Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Ways to Protect Your Company’s Online Reputation

"The goodwill your business generates isn’t confined to a brick & mortar approach. Every online activity that you engage in will reflect on your business. There are some differences, of course, in how the cyber-world operates apart from the “real” world. Speed of communication and the incredibly wide audience available make it imperative that a company be well aware of its internet presence. The New York Times has as much of an obligation to get the facts straight in its online edition as it does for the issues that hit the newsstands, for failure will ultimately lead to business decline.

"Below are a few items any commercial concern will do well to bear in mind on a daily basis.
  1. Google Placement – There are games-within-games regarding “placement” in Google-type searches, and the “rules” change frequently. Search for your own company from time-to-time to check whether your business is getting the right exposure.
  2. Promotion – “Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket” is how an old saying goes. Advertisement, however it is accomplished, is a vital component of commerce. Remember, however, that you need to be able to back up any claims you make, or you will lose goodwill and business.
  3. Testimonials – Testimonials can be in the form of quotes to be read on your business site or you can be a bit more creative, and use a Youtube video. If your product or service is easy to demonstrate, a clear online video can enhance your company’s credibility.
  4. Social Networks – Most people are already familiar with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and these networks all place highly in Google rankings. That means if you use these sites you will get the word out about yourself or your business, so you’d best be sure that the word is good.
  5. Word-Of-Mouth – Remember that everybody you contact online while you represent your business is likely to speak of the experience to other people away from the office or computer.
  6. Resume – As a form of advertising as well as a form of validation, it is important to a company to present itself in the best possible lighting, and a good resume can accomplish both ideals. If you have superlative credentials make sure they are available to your clientèle.
  7. Vigilance – There may be someone with malicious intent personally attacking you online, and sometimes the best technique to minimize damage is to ignore the negative entry while simultaneously burying it amidst a bevy of positive releases.
  8. Vigilance – If sensitive personal and financial information is entrusted to you then there is a great responsibility to protect consumers from “run-of-the-mill” online attacks, identity thefts and data piracy.
  9. The Office Party – What happens at the office needs to stay at the office, so companies need to be careful about the things they post online. One employee’s off-color joke or risqué photo is a potential firing or lawsuit just waiting to happen.
  10. Make Corrections – If a negative news item or blog feature about your business is published, and the piece contains errors, it is worth contacting the author, who is likely to make corrections if necessary. Bloggers and journalists also have reputations to maintain.
"All the rules of courtesy, etiquette and ethics that apply in the “real” business world apply to online commerce as well."

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