Managing your online rep

The new reality is that if you have a run-in with a less than scrupulous supplier or client, your company could be marred by a barrage of negative ratings and comments on the Internet.

The reputation management industry is now very significant and, in many instances, the work they do can assist in damage recovery after a simple mistake. 

I heard of a company that bought an aircraft in the U.S. It was a perfectly normal transaction from a commercial and aviation perspective.

A few years after the purchase, a journalist discovered that the airplane had been used for drug runs across the border (or something equally damaging).

The aircraft registration was tied to the new owners and before you know, it they had an online reputation problem. It was a costly problem that took years to truly mitigate.

The bad thing about damage online is it cannot be hidden. Unless your name is Teflon Trump and nothing sticks, then you had better be prepared to spend some money for a consultant to assist in improving your online reputation. 

For years, we have struggled with true and honest evaluations of products or services. Various businesses set themselves up to give unbiased opinions.

In the U.K., we had the WHICH Consumer Guide that was the “go to” source for honest reviews of products. On the Internet, CNET was a good resource initially.

Then came the Internet. Review sites proposed they would show real world reviews of products and services by actual consumers.

It was great for the first while until less scrupulous individuals who participate in “black hat SEO” tactics realized they could build a list of positive reviews by paying people or exchanging services in a similar manner.

Hence, it is difficult to know who to trust. 

The advancement of the public reviews was the development of algorithms that were created by propeller heads who, in fact, were working for their employers.

So sites like Yelp would dish out garbage reviews until you advertised with them and, bingo, the algorithm changes and you get a higher rating.

In all, it naturally proves complicated to manage your reputation online if people are free to write whatever they want about your service or company. 

Perhaps the best thing is to find a friend who recently purchased a product or service and ask them what they thought. The balance of information may be swayed by greed or vengeance.


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
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Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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