Thanks to Social Media, some words, pictures, sound bites and videos become brands in and of themselves. Reputation is the belief that defines you in the eyes of your audience and your reputation constantly competes with content (i.e. words, pictures, sound bites and videos).
A good reputation and the trust of the audience seed and feed each other. They enhance mutual trust and make the audience forgive or forget your mistakes and lapses. Of course, reputation can be hurt as easily by rumors as by facts. William Shakespeare saw rumors as a “blunt monster with uncounted heads”, but today its easy to count the millions of harmful posts on social media.
In this context, reputation management has boiled down to managing perception. Perception is a very fickle thing; it only needs doubts to change. Most people do not have the attention span to seek evidence or justification and if they doubt you, they doubt your reputation. The old adage of “actions speak louder than words” is no longer sufficient. Today, reputations need the action as well as the narrative that speaks well of the action. You must become your own media broadcast and content manager on the World Wide Web, building your relations and your reputation.
Somewhere in the audience, there will always exist a critic or a detractor who will discover the weakness in your narrative. It does not matter that his tool of choice is a rumor or the disclosure of a fact. What matters is how you manage it.
Ways and Means to Manage Your Reputation:
Maintain Your Own Reputation Pages
Rather than have prospective customers only see reviews of your company on others’ websites limits your ability to respond to reviews. Rather, create your own page like growthink complaints that allows you to show customer praises and concerns and respond to them as you see fit.
Preach What You Practice
Practice can be defined as: What you do, How you do it, Why you do it and about the When and Where you discovered the motivation to improve your practice. Your reputation will be constantly tested for “authenticity” under the spotlight of social media. Authenticity is not rocket science. All you need is the confidence to express yourself as you are and your honesty should be compelling enough to invite honest feedback from others.
Monitor and Engage your Followers
Online reputation management is all about the conversation (i.e. the right response at the right time and place). Monitoring and analyzing the social media activity on your page makes you aware of the threats to your reputation, and the hindrances to a good audience experience. The trick is to let the good overcome the bad, instead of simply trying to hide the bad. The story of triumph always makes for a good narrative.
- If the feedback is dishonest, it helps build trust in your brand. Reinforce your narrative rather than tearing down such feedback, and the audience will do the tearing down for you.
- If the feedback is blunt, the audience is willing to ignore it and still hope that you try to improve yourself.
- Then there are the trolls who may strike on social media. Here, you must show the resolve of not being as harsh as the troll (humor and wit always helps) and having the sound judgment to ignore them when necessary.
Be Aggressive and Proactive with your SEO
A good first impression is critical in managing your reputation. The Google Search Page must lead first time visitors to the good stories. You are not burying the less reputable points and you are transparent enough to let it be, but you can create a good first impression. Word based searches, image searches, voice searches, news searches; all the bases must be covered. You never know what will come up first, until you have done a thorough SEO.
Be Responsive to the Audience and to Self Improvement
The audience values your attention no less than you value theirs. Let their participation be of value to your story of self-improvement. Let them contribute directly to your reputation building.