“Company selfies racist tattoo while smoking” – How to manage online reputation

If your company is ignoring what people are posting, tweeting and commenting online, you are risking more than an embarrassing selfie on Facebook. You may be surprised to find that people are forming opinions of your business based on social media chatter. If so, you’re not alone. One third of Irish companies are ignoring their online reputations and not monitoring what’s being said about them online.

We live in a “pull economy” where people, employers and customers find you on the internet. Business owners are often taken off-guard when typing in their brand name on Google causes negative comments to pop up. A string of negative reviews from an embittered client or disgruntled employee may be the first thing people see, particularly if they’re posted on a popular website.

Once negative comments are online about your company, it’s difficult to get rid of them. Sales, public perception and hiring ability all take a hit. Simply not interacting online is no answer, since customers don’t like a deafening silence when they search for you online. People will quickly lose interest and go with another company that has an active, engaging online presence. Trying to fix your reputation once it’s been sullied is difficult, nearly impossible. Try and control the situation BEFORE this happens. There are some ways you can shape what people find when they search your company name or product.

The best way to get positive information back is to create it. Create a profile for your brand on social media that do well on search results e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube. If you don’t have a domain name, it’s not expensive to buy one. Use it to start blogging professional, useful information about your company, products, helpful support etc. Video ranks very well on Google. Could you create a “how to” video about your product for YouTube?

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All of this social media management can seem overwhelming. Who, after all, is going to create these accounts and post original contact regularly? In a smaller company, that may be the person who is taking using their spare 5 minutes today to read this (thank you!).

Social media can be very tricky. Even multinationals often get it wrong. McDonald’s came up with a twitter hashtag for people to post their great experiences. But the hashtag was used to post horror stories too, one customer saying he would rather eat his own diarrhoea than eat there again. McDonald’s had to take it down.

Think about hiring a freelancer who can do this work for you AND has access to tracking tools to let you know exactly how you’re doing on social media. Start by checking your online reputation yourself by setting up a google alert for your name or company name. Go to https://www.google.com/alerts and off you go. Maybe you’re lucky and it’s all love and unicorns for you online. But if it’s like mean girls out there OR a deafening silence, then you need to work on your online reputation.

Embarrassing wedding dance video? Company, time to grow up.

Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.