Online Reputation and your company
A company’s reputation has always been incredibly important to their overall success, growth and viability, but it has become even more in recent years. There was once a time when a company’s reputation was largely determined by what was presented in mainstream media, something over which they could have a decent amount of control. Today, a company’s reputation can change dramatically almost instantly, thanks to search engine results, online customer reviews, social media activity and more information available on the Internet. A seriously unfortunate byproduct of this online information is that there is simply no telling what is accurate, what is slightly inaccurate and what is grossly inaccurate, which means that a company’s hard-won good reputation can be completely destroyed by one or a few negative online reviews or false and misleading blog posts. Since more than a quarter of a company’s market value is directly linked to their reputation, these online threats create a very real reputation risk for any company.
Estimating Reputation Risk
Many companies agree that reputation risk is one of, if not the top strategic risk they have to face and manage today. Those companies that have experienced suffered reputation damages have often also suffered from loss of revenue and loss of brand value. This means that regardless of whether damaging information about a company is actually true or partially or entirely false, this information can spread quickly among consumers. Even those consumers who may suspect the truthfulness of the information they encounter about a company may yet avoid interacting with that company for some period of time–at least until they determine whether the information is actually false. What may be even more unfortunate is that there are cases where damaging information is proven entirely false and so promoted–and yet the original reputation damages incurred aren’t easily or quickly swept away. This is why preventative measures are far more advisable than after-the-fact corrective measures.
A company that makes reputation risk a priority is a company that understands the intrinsic value of a good reputation and what must be done in order to protect and improve it. Devoting the people, data, technology and other resources necessary for developing reputation risk and crisis reputation management is critical, since reputation threats can appear suddenly and without any warning. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, as well as blog posts, have made it possible for reputation-damaging news stories and scandals to go viral within mere hours of first publication. A company that understands their reputation risk and is ready to combat it is better able to prevent a full-blown crisis.
Needless to say, if a company is not fully aware of their reputation risk, they are helpless to do anything useful to manage it. It can happen that some companies feel they are effectively aware of and managing reputation risk through monitoring their website and consumer reviews on it. They may not realize that failing to watch for consumer reviews posted to other sites, maintaining SEO, and failing to maintain a social media presence, among other things, can contribute to reputation risk. Online reputation experts know exactly what to look for in order to accurately estimate a company’s reputation risk, and can recommend aggressive action to effectively manage it.
A Final Thought
Your company’s reputation is rightfully very important to you, because you have worked very hard to establish, grow and maintain it and because it is the main way that consumers get to know and trust you. It is for this exact reason that your company’s reputation risk should also be very important to you–knowing about what could harm your company and being able to take action to prevent or rapidly resolve it can make your reputation even stronger. This is not something to trust to guesswork, but rather something for which you will be glad you have received expert help.