Realistic Expectations for Reputation Management
This post is written by Rich Gorman. Author info at the end of the post.
Few things are more devastating than discovering that your good name has been dragged through the mud, particularly online, for all the world to see. For business owners, of course, this kind of online defamation can prove costly; bad reviews or rumors of misconduct, regardless of how accurate, can quickly lead to lost customers and diminished sales. For individuals, online defamation can lead to lost job opportunities and other forms of career damage, to say nothing of personal embarrassment.
That’s why more and more people are turning to the services rendered by online reputation management firms. Cliff Stein, Reputation Changer Chief Executive Officer, likes to say that online reputation management is “all about giving companies and individuals a say in how they are portrayed on the Internet.” As an alternative, many individuals and companies have embarked on DIY reputation management campaigns; depending on your reputation management needs, and the extent of any damage already done, the DIY route can sometimes prove perfectly effective.
But that begs a question: Just how effective is reputation management, anyway? Suppose that you launch a campaign that includes SEO, content creation, blogging, social media, and everything else. Can you really expect to see your name cleared completely, and all online defamation effectively undone? Or is there a need to modulate expectations to some degree?
The short answer to that question is that reputation management campaigns cannot unsay what has been said, and they cannot erase all defamatory content from the Internet, but there is hope for effectively rendering negative online listings non-issues.
Individuals on the Internet
There are a couple of things that are important to remember about people on the Internet. The first is that there is no way you can keep folks—customers, business rivals, or whoever—from writing things about you, even untruthful things. The Internet allows people to say anything they want, more or less, which means nobody is ever totally impervious to online attack.
The second, related point is that you cannot take back what is said by someone else. The Internet does not come with an “erase” or “undo” button. Anyone who thinks that reputation management can wipe the slate clean is a bit overly optimistic. However, that is not to say that online reputation management is ineffective: You just need to know what effects you should expect.
Rendering Online Attacks as Non-Issues
Reputation management is not about making attacks disappear, in a literal sense, so much as it is about making them virtually non-existent. As Cliff Stein of Reputation Changer has said, time and time again, the average Internet search engine user does not ever click past the first page of online search results. In fact, 9 out of 10 users never click past the first page, which means the first page is where damage is done.
Reputation management is all about ensuring that you have total control of that first page—and that any negative listings are booted to the fourth or fifth page, maybe. The deeper they are, the fewer people will ever see them—and as such, they are, in Stein’s parlance, virtually non-existent.
This is a key concept for those seeking to establish realistic expectations about their reputation management campaign. No, you will not cause bad reviews or embarrassing photos to up and vanish, nor are you likely to make a big dent in things overnight. However, by building and developing positive online assets, you can work to ensure that you are robbing those negative listings of their power to influence.
Rich Gorman is a veteran entrepreneur with a background in direct response marketing, but a true passion for online reputation management. He works alongside Cliff Stein, Reputation Changer CEO, to make the tools of reputation defense more accessible to companies and individuals alike.