W Buffet on Reputation Management

Reputation Management: Misunderstood & Undervalued

Reputation is Important for Every Organization & Individual

Reputation management generally refers to online reputation, and is the process of controlling an individual or organization’s reputation online. In most cases, reputation management focuses on controlling a search engine’s search results. In general, the process usually involves promoting web pages that have positive or neutral information about an individual or organization and “demoting” or pushing down the ranking position of web pages that have negative information about an individual or organization. By pushing web pages down (on search results pages) that reveal negative information about an individual or organization, the web page is harder to find and fewer people will find it.

In my opinion, reputation management is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued services (for lack of a better word) utilized by organizations and individuals that need a good reputation to earn new business. The process of monitoring and managing an online identity/brand has a long list of benefits. Unfortunately, for many businesses and individuals they wait to begin a reputation management campaign until after a major event occurs that may have negative ramifications. The problem with this is that after it’s happened, a successful reputation management campaign is crucial for the continued success of that person or organization, and successful quick result orientated reputation management campaigns are more costly.

Of the 75% of U.S. adults who Google themselves, nearly half say the results aren’t positive.

Why is Reputation Management Misunderstood?

For many, reputation management is thought of in terms of “fixing” or “attempting to remove” negative online attention. It’s something management or individuals do after something bad like a negative review happens. This is an okay strategy, but it’s far from the best, and it’s always substantially more expensive and risky. Reputation management is misunderstood because it’s not something that should be done – after the fact – it’s something that should be done all of the time. It’s not only about fixing a wrong, there’s more value in using it to promote greatness. As a final point, reputation management is not only for large organizations, small businesses and high profile individuals – it’s a good thing for almost everyone for a variety of reasons e.g. an eventual job hunt, an eventual career in politics, a dream promotion, or even a board position in your home owner’s association.

Why is Reputation Management Undervalued?

Because it’s misunderstood and usually used to fix wrongs, reputation management is basically ignored. Organizations and individuals find no value in what their online reputation looks like until it’s too late, and because of this, they pay little to no attention to it. If you think a segment of the population buys products and services without looking into a company or organization, you’re 100% right. That said, I guarantee that a larger segment (greater than 80%) of the population looks into an organization or service provider before deciding to make a purchase decision. As technology gets better, and young adults and kids grow up, that segment will only increase. Reputation is undervalued, because in most cases, it’s not used to make an organization or individual look great all the time. Because it’s typically used to hide negative attention, individuals and organizations completely overlook the value in improving your online reputation – your “virtual doorway” – the profiles, review sites, your website etc… that are often a first impression of you or your organization. Enhancing these key platforms will make an organization or individual’s reputation look stellar and in turn convert more researchers.

Have you looked into yourself or your organization online lately, and if you have, did you take the time to look at how you look compared to your competition?

How Can I Make My Online Reputation Look Amazing?

First, every organization and individual is different. Rap stars are going to need a different strategy than Coca Cola, and a real estate agent will have a different strategy than a lawyer. Second, don’t do things just to do things. What does that mean you ask? Don’t create a Twitter account if you’re going to set it up and forget it. Unused abandoned profiles can actually make it look like you either stopped doing business or don’t have “your ducks in a row.” Third, find out why reviews matter, and always work towards earning them. Focus on building your reputation around things you care about, can stay active in, and are relevant to your organization or career. If you do not think you have time to stay active on social platforms, search for profiles on platforms that do not need attention – there are hundreds of them. You can make your reputation look amazing online by having nice looking profiles on multiple platforms and display testimonials or accomplishments on those platforms. Feel free to ask me about software available that makes managing multiple platforms easy and what it takes to get an effective strategy started.

What Platforms are a Must?

There are a few things every organization and individual can do to ensure they always look good for whatever their “target market” may be. Everyone, I don’t care who you are, should be on LinkedIn, Google, Yelp and Facebook. When I say “be on” that doesn’t mean create an account and leave it as is. That means complete your profile as much as possible. Make sure it has correct information, accurate contact details and that the about us/you portions of each site are completed (unique about you/us descriptions are best!). Take the time to tell people about things you’re good at, things you like, your other websites, websites you enjoy, and things you are interested in. Additionally, if you’re an organization, look for ways to win awards, and use press release distribution websites to talk about newsworthy things that occur within your organization – do not issue a press release for the sake of issuing a press release.

Take a few minutes each week to update your Facebook page with information that people may find interesting and valuable. And please, I beg of you, don’t only talk about yourself and/or your organization. Outside of those four platforms, you should try to create no less than 10 – 20 more profiles on platforms you are interested in and can keep updated. Relevancy matters, so find platforms related to your industry, and popular websites will help you get better results. If you’re a lawyer, there’s no reason to create a profile on activerain.com (a real estate agent portal), and if you’re a photographer, there’s probably no reason to create a profile on github.com (a revision control hub for source code).

Other Reputation Management Platforms to Consider