The world of reputation management has erupted with millions of people flocking to Google to drop in the name of a person they just came into contact with. This has happened to me.

“Hey I am heading to Manhattan for a conference. Which hotel should I stay at?” The friendly suggestion now results in a rapid due diligence on my part. Out comes the smartphone First impression? 2.6 stars and a Google page 1 scandal article from 2009 claiming bed bugs.

The internet is timeless and because of that comes the necessity to keep users apprised of changes, upgrades and improvements (like new mattresses in hotels and a change of management).

Disasters in reputation management can mostly be avoided with the right customer service tactics or even something as simple as responding to a poor review online.

Even today there manuals upon manuals on how to avoid these disasters as well as best practices for things like abusive reviewers, crisis responses, dealing with negative reviews et al. Sharing these insights can allow those who might need help with reputation management avoid a reputation flop that could tarnish their brand for years.

Consumers can smell when you are not transparent

Can you tell me a social media disaster which did not begin with a poor recognition of responsibility? I mean, where do I start?

I think a few different airline companies could benefit from online reputation management education across the board. United and Spirit airlines as an example—a simple Google search on both companies show a history of customer complaints that also fueled viral twitter threads, leading to certain reputation hellfire.

More than anything these airline examples came down to failures in service performance, lack of transparency with the customers and almost no proactive response. This is why the stigma on these brands still exists today.

Business Insider once claimed Spirit Airlines had become known as the worst airline of all time and they have since failed to shake away the label. And why? Because their endless series of PR disasters go unresolved with any real satisfaction. The after effect is one of near permanence.

Autosuggest is based on what Google thinks most people search.

Reputation expert and CEO of Massive Alliance, Brook Zimmatore formed a few maxims around reputation management. I’ll just drop these right here for Spirit.

“Reputation Management Maxim #1: Always take responsibility publicly. It allows the controversy to ‘vanish’ in people’s minds.”

“Reputation Maxim #2: Lies and mystery are the glue which makes something stick around. This is why scandals and reputation problems persist.”

Responding to trolls and abusive comments

There is a distinct and obvious difference between a trolling hater and a customer who needs help. The classification and observation of this should be practiced by anyone in Customer Service and Satisfaction departments as well as those managing the public social platforms for a brand.

In most scenarios, responding to haters results in replies which further antagonizes and can help make their point or even show ignorance on your part. This is what haters want you to do. If you have someone who has gone out of their way to leave you a heavily emotional or abusive review, comment, then you are more than likely not going to get very far with them other than classifying them into a category of “assign to customer service” generic response.

Pulling from Zimmatore’s list of reputation management Maxims we now have…

“Reputation Management Maxim #3: Haters will hate. The purpose of spreading hate is not to have their concerns resolved, but only to cause upset with the recipient.”

“Reputation Management Maxim #4: The best way to treat haters is to ignore them and then to outperform expectancies, be greater, win stronger and grow faster.”

But let’s not ignore the good guy. Zimmatore also has some words for them.

“Reputation Management Maxim #5: Consider consumer complaints as surveys. The attitude when receiving a complaint should be one of thanks and appreciation for contributing to the betterment of service or the company.”

Proactive Online Reputation Management

The advent of social media has resulted in an exceptional outlet for controlling a company or individual online reputation management. It allows for them to interact with users, provide advice and engage for the consumers in a very positive way. Done correctly, once can make themselves an influencer in the space which can generate further word of mouth advertising and create large amounts of organic traffic.

Blunders or PR fails related to social media activity are something that need to be managed properly. The real truth is that as long as we share more and more information online and create platforms where individuals are open to attack, mistakes, blunders, defamation, etc. The need for online reputation management will grow because all instances are varying and tactics become different.

People can confuse online reputation management with only removing negative reviews or trying to handle PR problems, but it’s so much more that. We live in an age where someone’s page one on Google is their new business card. In truth, a brand’s reputation is essentially what comprises the brand and the reputation should always be given center focus.

Small, big, or even just starting out, using online reputation management strategies to build one’s brand is vital.