Some quick industry stats:
- 81% of consumers conduct research online before purchasing offline
- 30% will leave feedback online afterwards, most of time negative
- 87% of consumers believe a CEO’s reputation is a reflection of their company
For job seekers:
- 78% of executive recruiters Google you before setting up an interview
- 35% will choose to not hire you based upon their findings
Now, with the above in mind, how would you rate your reputation? Are you aware of what is being said about you online? These are things every company and individual needs to think about before expecting to run a successful business or find a reputable job.
At SearchFest 2009, there was a presentation on this topic, which included talks by Tony Adam (Yahoo), Marty Weintraub (aimClear), and Todd Friesen (PositionTech). Here are some of the key takeaways from what was said:
1. Know where to monitor your business – The online world is constantly expanding and it can be difficult to know where to start. However, it’s always better to hear bad news before good news, right? Therefore, start with anything negative about your company or self. Check out Ripoff Report. This site allows you to search for any negative report that has been filed against your company.
2. Your reputation is everywhere – Don’t just monitor the big name sites like Facebook and Myspace; try checking Yahoo Groups and Twitter.
3. Know how your brand is being used online – Use Check User Names to monitor this. It searches a large number of current social media sites to determine which usernames have been taken. This is helpful to see if someone is using your company name or brand inappropriately.
4. Give your customers the opportunity to provide feedback – If your company has reputation problems, yet is unwilling to provide an avenue for customers to complain, where else will they go to do this? Constructive criticism is preferable to emotionally driven complaining. Set up a system to show your customers that you value their opinion and that their complaints will be addressed.
5. Own your search results – Don’t let negative press be the first thing that shows up in Google when your company is searched for. However, if this is the case, create content on social media sites to move anything negative lower in the search results. Also, create sub domains and internal link them.
6. Monitor your reputation frequently – Set up Google Alerts and customize your iGoogle account to help with this. Twitter Search is another good option. Search for your company name or keyword you want to monitor and then subscribe to the RSS feed for the results. Finally, Yahoo Pipes is another alternative, but can be slightly difficult to manage at times.
7. Be active on customer review sites – 90% of customers trust a 3rd party site while 75% believe companies lie about themselves. These are the things that affect conversions and overall revenue. Know what customers are writing on review sites and be ready to address complaints in a timely manner.
8. Be transparent – If you screw up, be honest about it. Your customers will appreciate you for it.
In closing, without a strong reputation, it doesn’t really matter how amazing your business model is. Monitoring and managing your reputation can take time, but in the end, the benefits of understanding what your customers want and like/dislike will outweigh any cons.
(photo courtesy of EndlessPlain.com)