What’s your online reputation worth?

online reputation, value. worth

Small companies can be completely ruined by one person that decide to vent his grievances online. And for large companies losses can amount to millions of dollars. All it takes is one disgruntled employee or customer.

More than an eye for an eye

Today’s online world has enabled destructive people to have a field day. Small companies can lose a lot of money and even go bankrupt. Sure companies make mistakes but sometimes there is no proportion between what harm they have caused and the price they have to pay. But still few companies take precautions.

Beware of disgruntled employees and customers

One company got badly hit by a former employee making negative comments in a forum of relevance to their business. The comments swiftly came up high on Google’s search results. Another example is an angry customer that took revenge on a small town company that had to close down as a result.

An IT company was mentioned in a thread on an online forum with thousands of comments. What the dissatisfied customer wrote had a huge impact and because the company didn’t react swiftly the damage was huge. They had huge problems  many years after the customer in question was compensated.

How much does bad online reputation cost you?

Having a bad reputation online can easily be calculated financially per month or year. A company that suddenly has a bad reputation just need to compare their sales to the year before. The difference is the price they are paying.

Ruining your brand or burning your company?

If customers don’t dare to buy from you because Google is wrongly giving the impression that your company is surrounded by conflict you will suffer. All it takes for that to happen is that someone googles your name and a revengeful post ends up high on the first page of search engine results.

Is your customer service excellent?

The customer is always right. But regardless if they are or not, you have to make sure your customers are content. Already before the internet one upset customer meant you lost ten. Nowadays you may lose thousands. So having excellent customer service is absolutely essential in our online world.

Does your internal communication make staff feel appreciated and important?

Many companies, especially SMEs, have not paid much attention to internal communication and merely regarded it as an expense. Nowadays that’s no longer possible. Do your employees feel “part of the family”? If not, do you communicate in ways that make them see what’s in it for them? Do they have access to you or other superiors to air their grievances? If not, they are likely to vent their concerns online. Nowadays everyone has an online audience, Facebook friends if nothing else. So if your internal communication isn’t making staff identify with and like the company, you have a problem that needs to be rectified swiftly.

How can you change your online reputation?

By pushing already highly-ranked negative posts down search engine results pages so that they are seen by fewer people. Several companies have started blogs and used social media to improve their online reputation. By constantly updating their blogs and social media accounts it normally takes about three to six months to squeeze the bad post down from the first to second page on Google.

Prevent it from happening

All businesses should keep an eye on the web and do what they can to prevent anyone from harming their reputation. You have to start monitoring SERPs (your search engine result pages) and how and when you are mentioned in online articles and forums. A simple way is to use Google Alerts or other such tools. It’s also important to make sure that you own all the URLs that could possibly be used to give the impression that the information comes from you. Angry environmentalists for instance purchased a .net for one company and started publishing negative information with the intent to harm.

Have you adapted to the internet recording everything and forgetting nothing?

With the increasing number of constituencies using the internet to find information, are you doing online reputation management? Do you know what your employees, customers or the public at large write about you online? If not, it’s high time you look into this aspect of our online world. The World Economic Forum recognized the importance of doing so by naming one online reputation management company as one of the 31 Technology Pioneers already in 2011. Through proprietary technology they enable companies to monitor the web, delete information, and control how they look when searched online. If necessary, use one of those companies.

The tools are there, so what are you waiting for? Someone to get a negative article about you published online? That people bent on revenge should have this kind of power is in my opinion completely wrong. But that’s unfortunately the way it is so, like it or not, it’s time to start contemplating how we should live our lives in a world where the internet records everything and forgets nothing. There are software that enable companies to see everything a person does online, including on social media. And once that kind of software is widely used the tables will be turned and revengeful people will find their online reputation ruined. They will not be able to get a job and people will be reluctant to do business with them. Presumably that will make such people think twice before trying to harm someone online. But until then, invest in internal communication and customer service to make sure your customers and employees are happy. It’s a small expense compared to a bad reputation online.

Picture: 401(K) 2012

109 thoughts on “What’s your online reputation worth?

  1. Hi Catarina, Thanks for writing this detailed article. I completely agree with you in regards to disgruntled employees and customers. All it takes is one post on Social media or a forum which can result in company closing down like you mentioned. Like you said it's important to start monitoring SERPs to keep an eye on when your company is mentioned on Social media or forums.

  2. Some businesses and people, think of the internet is just a place to throw out some information, or place to post an online advertisement. There is NOTHING more important than a companies, or persons, reputation, the internet is no exception. Like any business adventure, you must take the time and effort to make it work for you.

  3. The internet and social media has made it so easy for anyone to leave comments and reviews. Negative reviews end to get shared quickly and can ruin the reputation of anyone – individuals, blogs, companies etc. Sometimes, this works well for us e.g. At Christmas time, my son had booked 100 meals @£40.00 at a posh restaurant in London for his University. Some people in the Group had pre -ordered the vegan meals and the restaurant ran out of 5 vegan meals. He made numerous calls to the restaurant to get some money back for the students who didn't get their meal but no joy. I asked him to use Twitter to complain about the restaurant and within minutes, the restaurant called him and offered to refund the cost of 10 meals as a gesture of their goodwill. A good result for my son. More and more companies now pay a lot of attention to their online presence.

  4. When I was head of my agency team doing PR for one of the Big Four accounting firms, one of our jobs was monitoring an online forum where employees of different accounting and consulting firms posted comments about their companies. It was a way for our client to keep tabs on potential issues within the firm. And that was before the social networks were born. It's even more imperative today when there are so many online forums — including Yelp and Trip Advisor — where not only employees but customers can vent their feelings.

  5. Excellent customer service along with making your staff feel like part of a team can do much to prevent problems. However, there will always be someone dissatisfied who could harm your online reputation.
    Search engines like google should have a built-in component that identifies honest reviews from malicious ones. I'm sure the knowledge to do that exists.

  6. With the rise of social media it is fairly easy for potential clients to research on businesses and organisations. Sometimes all it takes is one bad review to put a potential customer off. I tend to check hotels abroad using Trip Advisor. Before booking I ensure the positive comments far outweigh the negative keeping in mind that some are never satisfied.

    You cannot guarantee that you will not make an error as a business but you can apologise and give the customer what they require proving that you care about their needs.

  7. This is one of those topics people tend to ignore until it smacks them in the face. I've personally never had a problem but I've known others who have so I track my name, the name of my website and the titles of each of my books for mentions online. Your advice on how to deal with a negative hit online is spot on. Not long ago I was helping a nonprofit with their PR and one of their challenges was that a company with the same name was being investigated for fraud and that news report was the first hit on the first page on Google for the name so I went to work on getting more published about the nonprofit's good work, interviews, etc. It took a couple of months but we finally managed to push the article on the "bad" company off the first page.
    My recent post 4 Reasons You Could Be Resisting Change

    1. What a great example you give, Marquita. And what's interesting is that you found out that it is possible to put down bad publicity, even if it's for another company with the same name:-)

  8. I think you really need to stay on top of it. Google your name regularly to see what is getting said about you online. Better to try and prevent these types of problems than fix the damage after it's already be.done. your online reputation is crucial today.

  9. As you noted above, excellent customer service is the best guarantee against having your reputation destryoed either online or off. Great and personal customer service should be a significant advantage for small businesses.And yet more and more large companies are embracing telephone auto-attendents, automated email response systems and various other types of robotoic customer service. A great case study in the U.S. is cable TV operator Comcast. The company has been cited by one media or consumer organization after another as having worst customer service in the country. Yet they remain a giant in the industry.

    1. Absolutely, Ken, customer service is essentia. But don't forget employees. A member of staff who has lost his/her job can be even angrier and cause even more problems than a customer.

  10. Catarina, I get so angry about this. When I research a product or article, I always look for a minimum of three reviews to be similar, whether good or bad and not identical (I find a lot of that too but that’s another story) because sometimes the bad review is based on nothing more than someone’s personal dislike.
    Everyone who is legit wants an excellent online reputation but it doesn’t take much to see it destroyed without backup facts. I haven’t set up google alerts (don’t know how yet but that’s on this week’s todo list).
    I love the Internet and all its possibilities but I hate when people abuse it.

  11. Online reputation is highly important. First impressions count therefore excellent customer service is a must. Customer feedback is valuable as then you can identify areas in which you can improve upon.

  12. I agree that a company should be monitoring their reputation. Recently, it has been easier to communicate with company through Twitter about issues on a product. It's great that they have employees monitoring their Twitter handle. This is important for any business even small businesses. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Investing in customer service and internal communication to ensure happy customers and employees makes sense to me in so many ways. The ability of a destructive person to cause a lot of damage to someone’s online reputation and to a business just increases the need. I too think it is wrong that one vengeful person should have that much power. I wonder if we can find the balance on the Internet (and the human wisdom to discern fact from malice) that allows the little person to have a voice without giving the bullies and revenge seekers power.

    1. Glad we agree, Donna. Not sure it it's possible to take away power from people seeking revenge. The only way would most likely be to have global legislation on the internet. But will that ever happen?

  14. Terrific overview Catarina. And you've covered the internal communications piece which often doesn't get done when people are thinking what is your online reputation worth.

    I have several Google Alerts set up to find out about my own.

    For sure these days speed of correcting anything negative would be critical. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Patricia. Your Google Alerts served you well, if I remember correctly, when someone stole an article you had written. Different issue but still. Personally have Google Alerts as well but so far no problems apart from someone posting an article I had written but with a link to it on my blog. The worst thing about it was that it was a woman in the US who is a communications consultant. Can't help wondering how content her customers are when she doesn't have ideas of her own?

  15. Great point. I think that online reputation can cost companies and individuals untold dollars and opportunities. It is interesting to see how an anonymous post somewhere can cause so much havoc and devastation.

  16. Whether its companies or people, getting a bad on-line reputation can cause issues. Too many children use social media to post rude messages or pictures to show off or shock their friends – only to get a shock when they don't get accepted at good colleges. Often they ruin their job prospects.

  17. Greetings Catarina,
    Something else I've noticed online are companies that use a little bit of reverse psychology and create marketing hype around the word "scam"… such as… Is XYZ really a scam? They have several websites giving glowing testimonials of their service or product to convince people they are trustworthy.

    Aside from that I know one person who employed a team of people in India to write glowing 5-star comments about him and his website. He says it's all a game and you just need to play it.
    I totally disagree. I think character and being true to one's own values is far more important.

    Kind Regards,
    My recent post Witness The Spectacular! Are You Missing Out On This?

  18. This post is right on point. A lot of people forget or just don't care about the repercussions and will air their dirty laundry online on different social media. Then a few months or years down the road they are wondering why they can't get a job

  19. I had a friend who had a run in with the law a few years ago and it severely hurt his online reputation because it came up as the #1 result when you Google his name. It took him a few months to build up other pages to out rank the page. But I know for a fact it had come up in job interviews for him before. Your reputation matters for your personal brand as much as it does for a company brand.
    My recent post How To Say No To A Recruiter

    1. Absolutely, Bravo. Glad your friend managed to sort it out. But it takes time so it's a good idea to really look after your online brand. But if you run into legal problems it's obviously difficult:-)

  20. Companies doe indeed go to great lengths to tackle negative reviews. However, it's not always just negative reviews that companies seek to remove. A couple of years ago, I posted a three-start review about some Keen sandals. My review was short and indicated the sizes ran small, but quality was okay. I was then contacted and offered a discount on replacement sandals, but I didn't want that brand since the fit ran tight as well compared to other brands. The bugged me once more and offered another discount. I didn't budge. It's not like a three-start review was going to be that damaging from the shoe company in Oregon that mailed them. Finally, the offered free shoes out of any they sold. That's when I caved and picked a great pair of Gortex hiking shoes out while also removing my review. It's the only time that's ever happened to me.
    My recent post Writing Process Blog Hop #amwriting

    1. Jeri, don't you think the company in question did a good job of making you satisfied. It's a great example of how to manage your online reputation. Imagine if they had ignored you:-)

  21. I've always lived by the belief in acting swiftly and concisely on negative reviews. Even someone who's confused and posts something highly visible can be damaging to online reputation.

    The biggest example is how I right tutorials for WordPress, plugins and hosting providers.

    I think negative feedback is really useful – it shows balance and can be recycled to show how you solved a problem – but you can't let it just sit there.

    My recent post How to Place Your Ad Units Above the Fold for Over 50% More Clicks

    1. That’s great, Greg. But it would be more difficult for you if you were slandered on the front page of The New York Times and they had published the article online.It would needless to say end up on top of SERPs. How would you handle that? Or maybe you would consider it useful?:-)

  22. I once worked for a company that had poor internal comm'ns. I remember driving to work one morning and hearing on the radio that the company was closing down the division I worked for. We were shocked! they should have taken the employees aside and told them the news before releasing it to the media!
    My recent post a man of kindness

  23. These days it's a constant battle. The internet is a two-edge sword, no doubt about it. You have to be proactive about your online reputation so that your voice is heard over all those who would have a negative impact on you. When I purchase a product I read the reviews, all the reviews. There will always be someone who does not like the product, but if the good outweighs the bad I buy the product. You have to take the same view with your online reputation. Stay on top of it so people listen to you and not the negative people.
    My recent post Making Slippery Elm Balls With Grandchildren

  24. At a minimum, you should fairly regularly "google" yourself and your business entity. Any business in the hospitality industry should obviously have someone monitoring a site as important as TripAdvisor and all negative reviews should be responded to. My recollection is that there was a law suit recently for libel due to an untrue negative review. "Truth" is a defense to a libel or slander charge, but a lie is actionable. Of course, this is time consuming and expensive and can make a large company look like a bully.
    My recent post How to Travel Without Your Dog

  25. They're called trolls in publishing but it's the same thing. In some ways it's encouraged when someone complains about bad service etc on an airline and gets a free trip out of it plus all the publicity. And I think there are people who feed on the negative. I guess companies specializing in countering these claims and 'scrubbing' reputations are the next step. An interesting and informative post.
    My recent post Yoga For The Desk Bound Writer

    1. If a company has excellent customer service they minimize the danger of people slandering them online, Pat. What's needed to stop these people is to decide on an international law that applies tö the internet globally. Until that is done trolls can do whatever they want. Facebook for instance don't do anything about members harassing other members. It's called free speech.

  26. I cannot wait until the software is available to deter revengeful people. It will be fabulous to see their online reputation ruined – justice! Recently in Australia a celebrity who had been bullied badly via Twitter committed suicide. She campaigned hard to eradicate Trolls and bring this side of bullying to everyones attention. Unfortunately she lost her own battle.
    Back to your post though, you are right. Companies must get proactive with their online presence and ensure that people out to ruin them do not get their way. There is a place for bad reviews, but not for vengeance.
    My recent post Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

  27. Catarina,

    As you mentioned, it is critical to react swiftly online. Last year, we traveled to St. Martin and as part of my research, I came upon a message thread absolutely thrashing one of the major car rental companies. This thread had been going on for years. There were a few travelers who came to the company’s defense but there was absolutely no one representing either the local franchise or the company brand. It was absolutely amazing. What’s interesting to note is that although the discussion was on TripAdvisor.com, I had come upon the message thread because it was on the first page of results in Google. You would think that a major company would invest in the resources to monitor their reputation.

    As always, a great post that fosters discussion.
    My recent post Does Your Content Marketing Strategy Stand a Chance? – #FridayFinds

    1. Excellent example of how your reputation can be ruined online, Sherryl. The car rental company could have started a blog to long term squeeze the negative posts down. It actually takes much less than 3 years, which, as you say. makes you wonder why they haven't done anything to sort it out.

  28. Keeping your reputation stealer and clean isn't the easiest thing to do nowadays. Sadly, here are those who take pleasure in taking someone down because they are successful not because they done anything wrong or deserve the action. Prevention certainly is a part of it but the most important part is awareness and then take action as quickly as possible. Just my thoughts. 🙂
    My recent post Wine Tasting Room Etiquette: By Steve Huntington

  29. I agree that reputation monitoring has become essential for not only companies, but just us folks trying to develop a brand. This type of negativity has sparked a new industry with companies lie Reputation Defender who have developed software to "scrub" your Google for negative remarks. Son, as you point out, there will be a DIY version that I am sure will sell copious amounts. But while this conversation addresses companies that do mostly right and very little wrong, what about companies that do mostly wrong and very little right? Isn't social media still a viable strategy to rid ourselves of retail predators?
    My recent post Picking Up The Pieces…Where’s The Justice?

    1. Seems we agree completely, Jacqueline. Online retail predators don't last long. Mind you I'm sure there's an exception to that rule. Could give you a list of people on social media that I wouldn't have anything to do with because of their behaviour online. And the odd thing is that they are often academics and business owners. What's wrong with treating people the way you want to be treated? And why would anyone do business with them unless they thrive on being abused?

  30. Sound advice about the importance of having a good reputation online.. Although prevention is better than cure the unforeseen can come up and bite so as you point out the damage control aspect is also important and you make good points on ways to achieve it.

    1. Glad you agree with me about having a good reputation online. Curing it is not too difficult but that doesn't bring back lost income. A small business that goes bancrupt as a result will fiind it difficult to cure:-)

  31. Catarina I am amazed at how often businesses ignore their online presence, it is such a costly mistake. Of all of the factors that contribute to online presence I am particularly conscious of the point you make about internal communications. Employees are either your best advocates or your worst detractors.
    My recent post Surprises at Work

    1. Glad, but not surprised we agree, Debra. Yes internal communications makes a huge difference for instance when it comes to making someone feeling good about what happens in the office as opposed to resent it and take revenge online.

    1. All true and good points, Leora. But being polite is unfortunately not enough if a customer feels he has had a bad deal or an employee is resentful because of being made redundant. You have to try to have customer service that is as excellent as possible and the same applies to internal communications.

  32. Great topic, Catarina. You've illuminated a problem. While the efforts to protect one's reputations may be prodigious, the one small safety factor may be that with all that is available on the internet, the bad may be buried among the several hundred thousand results of a Google search.

    I am still shocked when one of my blog pages comes up number one from among 46 million results in a Google search. Still, it is only one Google search.

    My recent post Merkel and Charybdis

  33. I'm glad you brought up the importance of having good internal communications. As you allude to, it's one of the best deterrants of keeping a bad online reputation from happening. A bad reputation doesn't start only from customers, but from inside, or from ex-employees. I also love that you said use a blog as a deterrant or as a way to drive the "bad exposure" down the page rank on Google. I'm a big proponent of business blogging, and so I totally appreciate this idea. I had never thought of using blogs in this way, though, so this was enlightening to me. _As for Google alerts, pretty sad that I am the only one in the company where I work that has set these up. There have been several times I've alerted our executives to either what the competition is up to, or what is being said about us. Not sure why they are not doing this themselves, or setting up a process to make this happen (even though I have shown them all about it). Maybe I should be more proactive and encourage this even more than I have been.

  34. A few of my colleagues who also blog were discussing over lunch today the changing cyberspace environment. Can you believe this, large companies are willing to pay bloggers to mention their product in a blog with a link back to the product. The mention of the product is subtle.
    For instance, I hastily brushed my teeth with my favourite Mint (XYZ) brand of toothpaste and ran to grab the taxi to the airport. Hurrah we were flying to India!
    The reason, mention of XYZ sound like an advertisement yet it appears in Google searches and improves visibility, the content is not repeated (which means Google does not penalise).
    I would prefer to stay away from this, it doesn't sound quite right.
    My recent post Law Street (The Economic Times:April 27, 2012)

    1. Doesn’t surprise me Lubna.

      Social media is interesting. We all work for free for Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter and make billions for the owners.

      But we get, or at least think we get, something in return since we build up our personal brand, network and so on.

      There are however a multitude of people who promote articles from The New York Times, Harvard Business Review and so forth by starting discussion in groups on Linkedin with a link to articles from those papers. And they don’t get paid to do so. Presumably they believe that by doing so people will believe they are brilliant and associate their name with, say, Harvard, even though they didn’t study there?

      By the way, it’s different when you include a video from say Harvard inan article on your blog because then the video helps you promote your blog.

      To get paid for mentioning products with links in your blog is a far better idea than promoting articles on social media without getting paid for it. Many times wonder if members of social media are keen on slave labour? If not, why do they devote a lot of time to working for free for the publications in the world?

  35. Glad you agree with me about the importance of this topic, Geek Girl. Presumably you know a lot about it. The same phenomena exists on social media where, on Linkedin, approx 2-3 percent of members behave badly i.e. bullying, nasty comments, slandering others and so forth. Don't these people realize that they are shoothing themselves in the foot? Their abuse behavior can come back to haunt them 20 years from now and stop them from being accepted for a post in say, The State Department:-)

  36. What an excellent article. I have many takeaways: It is really scary to know that a negativity false statement aout a company or an individual can reck havock for a greater time then it is possible to imagine. Paying attention to the noise that is out there about your business is more important then ever. Taking decisive steps to mitigate it even more so. I'm going to be checking mine out right now.
    My recent post Breville “The Hot Wok” Electric Wok: Product Review

    1. Thank you Susan. Probably the most difficult is someone who was fired, like in Lubna's story. When they are angry they can spread inside information that's not flattering for the company as revenge. Even if the information is true taken out of context it can seem horrendous:-)

  37. This is so very true. The entire cyber-world has become one giant battlefield. I once noticed that a colleague who was asked to put in his papers (for lack of performance) had begun to use various groups in LinkedIn to vent and vent loudly. I managed to send these posts to our HR dept, which then replied accordingly, alerted the group manager and had the posts removed.
    A company when confronted with such a situation should rope in some trusted employees who know that the allegations are false and also launch a campaign on social networks if need be.
    When it comes to blog, since I have begun to review books, on a rare occassion an author had sought a 'nice' review, instead of an honest review. I refused to take this forward, did not send my postal address for shipment of this book and have stayed away from review of his books. Even when it comes to an individual, even if it is a non-professional blogger as in my case – I review books as a hobby – the online reputation matters a great deal.
    My recent post Duffy Barkley Seek Well (Book 2)

    1. Glad we agree Lubna. Your collegue who vented his anger in Linkedin groups is a good example Good thing your HR department managed to have his posts removed.

      Like you I don't do anything online that I don't want to take responsibility for. For that very reason I, for instance, neither have guest writers nor recommend strangers on Linkedin. We make our own brand online and it's there forever.

  38. Great post Catarina. In the 'old days" if in a large company you would set up listening posts for any and all mentions of the company and brands in the media as well as a customer service policy that all employees would know. This meant that the procedure was easy to follow.

    Today it is necessary to do the same thing to include the online world whether it is done in house or via a company. Speed of response is a key today and having a clear policy of how to handle different situations.

  39. Hey right there with you! Your name is EVERYTHING especially professionally. I have a saying "Enforce what you Endorse"

  40. Glad you agree with me Bryan. Catch is if you only answer the toxic post is seen by too many people. So you need to do something to push them down the SERP. Otherwise the damage will be done despite your answers. People may not bother to read what you have to say.

  41. Even the largest companies aren't keeping track of what's being said about them on social media. A colleague was tracking "Twitter imposters," people who have other people write their tweets. She called the PR Department of a Fortune 500 company to inquire about the CEOs' tweets and it turned that that this time it truly was an imposter. Someone had commandeered the CEOs name and was sending out tweets. That was the first time the company found out about it.

    1. Horrifying example Jeannette. But it doesn't surprise me. Unfortunately there is a huge need for legislation online to deal with such perpetrators. Just look at Linkedin, there are an abundance of people using fake identities. Why should such fraud be allowed online? Expecially since some of them are up to the kind of activities you mention.

  42. Hi Catarina,

    I like this post – straight and to the point. It is in everyone's best interest to just NOT be rude, unprofessional, or inappropriate online or offline to your customers – especially online. The bottom line is that even if a company has done nothing wrong, and has tried in every way to appease an unhappy customer, that same customer might still try to smear the company online and there isn't anything that the business can do about it. Your suggestion to track what is being said via the web is a great suggestion. In this case, it is certainly better to know than not know, and if necessary, the business can do their best to do some damage control.

    1. Good points Julie. Some people are just nasty and no matter what you do they will persist with their revenge. If that happens the only thing to do is try to put their post down SERP in order for less people to see it. If necessary it will a company will have to hire an agency specializing in dealing with such problems.

  43. Excellent article Catarina. This is such an important topic. I'm always watching my Google alerts and log ago bought the most common TLD level domain names like net and mobi. It's amazing how much damage can be done to a company's reputation. The example that comes to my mind is the YouTube video "United Breaks Guitars" against United Airlines. It had almost 10 million views the last time I looked and attracted the attention of CBS News. This is definitely a different world that we live in now.

  44. There are other tools that businesses should be monitoring like Yelp, Yahoo Pipes, City Search, Angie's list. I know some of these are only in US but there are probably similar ones in many countries. I explore these in this post http://bit.ly/dCf3L7.


  45. Actually these services have now been offered to the everyman. In the facebook age, it's common to see someone bIasted on the web. These companies advertise on the radio how they can eradicate bad information about you on the web here in Los Angeles. I totally agree with Keyuri's comment.

    1. Good to know Dennis. Pretty soon that kind of services will be offered all over the world. Just hope libel legislation will be applied online as well. Why should these people be able to blast someone online and not in real life?

  46. great article which could be inlcuded in any employee training handbook.
    I hope more companies will become aware of their on-line reputation and it's
    link to profit and credibility.
    there are many ways to use on-line reputation and it makes you think about the
    positives and negatives of having instaneous feedback. having specialized agencies is a
    brilliant way to take control of the on-line brand.

  47. first of all i would like to thank you for posting that kind of articles. What's happening nowadays with big firms, they are hiring specialized agencies, with joined efforts, to manage and maintain a good reputation. i will go further and share with you Gatorade experience, they hired a team of 15 specialists to leverage their reputation. They are facing a major brand hit: youth are considering Gatorade as an old brand that were used by previous legend but currently the brand does not reflect the youth image and interests. Gatorade first action was to start online reputation management as the first advertising solution.
    I believe in the coming 10 years we will be dealing with several online agencies specialized only in that type of management.

    1. Good comment Wissam. What you are predicting will most likely happen. Let's face it, it's essential since it only takes one person bent on revenge to create a bad reputation online.

  48. Absolutely love the fresh layout. I really liked this article about online reputation. Thank you for this great write.

  49. It's amazing how many companies just don't understand this, Catarina!

    Many seem to think that by not monitoring what's being said about them, they can avoid trouble – but all that happens is that things can easily get out of control. Companies MUST track what's being said – it's so easy to do with Alerts, etc. – and react very quickly. Taking an unhappy customer and showing you care can turn him/her into a brand advocate, and there's little that's more powerful.

    Just look at the trouble the Benihana chain is getting itself into due to the Kuwait franchise trying to sue a blogger over a mildly critical review. The hashtag #BenihanaKUW says it all…

    1. Couldn't have said it better myself guy. Having said that I have noticed on social media that about 2-3% of all people are genuinely nasty and want to "assasinate others" for nothing. Those people it's difficult to stop from going for the kill because they thrive on it and feel powerful doing so. But having excellent internal communication and customer service should avoid about 97% of the potential trouble.

      1. Hi Catarina, well written article. I have seen many times people who post negative or provoking comments on Linkedin group discussions just to be noticed ! It is hard not to respond . Sometimes you can beat them at their own game, but at the end the damage is done. Just one sarcastic post can destroy a nice conversation because people are afraid to be criticized in public. It's a shame!

        1. Agree with you completely Anne. It's time for those people to be careful. If not, they will suddenly find that their reputation is dameged and they will not be able to get a job and people will be reluctant to do business with them.

  50. It is curious that as a society we focus on "online bullying" predominantly in our children's lives. You very effectively point out that it is caustic in the professional adult world as well. Seems unlikely that a vengeful individual in the midst of a smear campaign will find their conscious so the best thing to do is prevent it from happening whenever possible. It's damage control before the fact. Good leaders should be meeting with their employees or clients regularly and assessing for yays and nays. Gettng the "yays' in writing could come in handy as discrediting any future negativity that is expressed.

    1. Great comment Keyuri. When I swim and have a sauna I have noticed that teenage girls don't dare to take off their bathing suits in the sauna. They are afraid of a bully taking a photograph and posting it online. It's seriously time to legislate online activity. Why should someone get away with a smear campaign online when they can't do so in real life? These people are no better than the ones creating viruses to wreak havoc.

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