Managing and building a business is hard enough without having a poor online reputation to manage as well. But the implications of having such a reputation can be severe—here are numerous reasons why it’s best to nip negative links or online press in the bud (and how to do it) before they have an impact on the success of both you and your company.
Your competitors could take advantage of it. Before you even have time to manage a situation, competitors could be leveraging negative links and information about you in their own online press releases or on their websites. Don’t let them take away your edge because of a negative online reputation.
Existing and future customers will care. Loss of revenue due to a bad online reputation can be avoided. Your customers care about how your business comports itself. Don’t let existing customers see that you are not carrying yourself in a positive manner, and don’t deter future customers from purchasing your product or service because of your online reputation.
Potential investors and shareholders will care. No future investor or someone who already owns a part of your company wants to be associated with a business that carries itself poorly on a public stage. Nor do they want you to be losing customers and associated revenues because of your reputation. Your online reputation is, by association, their online reputation—avoid extremely difficult conversations with stakeholders, and prevent deterring new investors by keeping your reputation positive.
Your business (and you) could be more susceptible to legal issues. Litigious people prey more on companies that appear to be susceptible. If your business has already endured legal problems (which often are documented online), or you have a bad online reputation, people sometimes try to capitalize on this by making claims that are untrue, but that are consistent with what is being reported online. Don’t give bad people any ammunition to build a case (whether false or not) with your negative online reputation.
One bad link can beget another. Press love to report on companies in strife. This is bread and butter stuff, especially if your company has any sort of reputation at all. Don’t let yourself be a target by having negative links easily available for consumption by reporters in need of a good story.
It could impact your family. If your company starts to perform poorly from a financial standpoint because of a bad reputation, this could impact your own financial well-being, and therefore that of your family. Your family also, because they are associated with you, becomes associated with the company.
It could reflect poorly upon you as an individual. Being associated with a company that has a negative online reputation can spell trouble for us in our personal lives, as well as when it comes to trying to find new job opportunities. Be very careful about associating yourself with a company that has a poor reputation, because as they say, birds of a feather flock together. You don’t want others to think that you have the values your company does if they appear to be negative, and if you stay there in spite of those apparent values. If you run the business, obviously the implications can be all the more severe.
Prevent bad office morale. Employees are often aware when a company is in any sort of distress, particularly because a business’s distress is very often reported online for one reason or another. It’s not a good look and not good for employee morale when your company is not being represented in a positive light online. This may also impact employee referrals (which are like gold for Human Resources because recruiting costs are high and referrals save money), as well as other parties who were interested in working for you. If the company doesn’t appear to have a good reputation, it’s hard for a candidate to get excited about working for you.
This could lower your own productivity. It is not uplifting or morale-boosting for you personally when your company is being represented in a negative light online or elsewhere. Running a business is stressful enough. Don’t add layers of stress that can easily be managed around with some proactive measures.
No one else will do it for you. You need to be proactive about managing your online reputation. If you don’t have time to monitor it with free online tools, hire a professional to do it for you. There are many online services that charge a nominal fee to do so.
And speaking of proactivity, be sure to use your website to provide customer reviews on your products or services. According to an online study, 51 percent of millennials say consumer opinions found on a company’s website have a greater impact on purchase decisions than recommendations from family and friends.”
Don’t laugh off negative online links and damaging online information about your business. They can quickly create negative exposure on multiple levels, both personal and business-related. No businessperson has time for the implications of a bad online reputation.
Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from business reputation management to digital marketing strategy.