The Unwritten Rules of Reputation Management

Everyone on the web need to give frequent thought to their online reputation!

When is the last time you Googled you name, phone number, or address just to see what is out there?

You may not like what you see!

Here are a set of rules to help define what you approach to Reputation Management should be:

Everyone has an online reputation

We all have an online reputation to maintain. Don’t believe it, go ahead and “Google Yourself.” Even if you don’t find anything written about you, then that’s still your reputation or lack thereof. You should make sure that what’s found in Google, Facebook, Twitter, something you’d be equally comfortable showing to the world!

Your reputation is an extension of your character

It doesn’t matter how hard you work on managing your reputation, it will only ever be as solid as your actual character. Tiger Woods had a reputation of being the greatest golfer and a family man. His character revealed otherwise. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Every reputation has an Achilles heel

While Toyota may have spent years telling us that its cars are the most reliable in the world, defective “sticking” gas pedals told us a different story. In fact, even though Toyota tried to deny the increasing incidents of sticking accelerators, its customers were the ones steering the car manufacturer’s reputation in another direction. Instead of denying the issue, Toyota should have been the first to recognize it! When you recognize and acknowledge your weaknesses, before your customers, you have the opportunity to craft a response that improves your reputation. Do you know what your reputation weaknesses are ?

Listen twice, act once

When it comes to listening to your customers, listen and listen again. You should spend twice as much effort on listening as you do responding. It’s too easy to simply jump in and reply to a negative Tweet or Facebook post without fixing the underlying problem. Instead, you should spend time actively listening to the feedback you’re collecting about your reputation. Listen for trends. Listen for opportunities. Listen, listen, listen! When you actually take in what your stakeholders are saying about your reputation, you do more than just fix a problem, you make sure you fix the underlying issue that created the problem in the first place! 

A crowd is louder than a solitary voice

At some point every company realizes the power of the crowd. You’ve heard of “crowd sourcing,” your reputations requires “crowd voicing.” Simply put, your reputation is going to be far greater shaped by a crowd of opinions than one single voice. You should determine whether you want that crowd to be a choir or a lynch mob. By being proactive, by loving and nurturing your online community, you can build a harmony of satisfied customers all willing to say great things about you. Alternatively, you can ignore your customers and wait until they become so angry, so disgusted by your actions, that they rise up against you. 

If you build it, they will come

Do you know where your customers are? Have you built them a thriving Facebook community? Can they receive customer service via Twitter? Do you have a blog that keeps them updated on all the changes with your products? If you build an official, company supported social network, then your customers will know exactly where to head, should they have a question or complaint. 

If you don’t build it, they will

If you decide not to embrace your reputation stakeholders, then you run a huge risk that they’ll create their own community. Not so bad, if you happen to have a strong reputation. For example Apple gets by with no official social media effort. But, it’s generally not a good idea to stick you head in the sand and ignore those that want to share their experiences with you. If your customer wants to complain about your abusive customer service reps they may well head to Facebook or Yelp. If you don’t have an official presence then you are leaving these dissatisfied customers to define your reputation for you! You need to both discover where your customers like to “hang out” and then make sure you’re hanging with them!

Your reputation WILL come under attack

No matter how hard you try, your reputation will someday come under attack. It happens to everyone eventually, When it happens you will need help, just like in law you need a professional working for you and guiding you through the nightmare.

Being stubborn is more expensive than saying “sorry”

United Airlines, what in the world were you thinking? Draggin customers off of your planes on video! Seriously! Don’t make the same mistake as United. When you receive a complaint from a customer, look beyond your pride. Look beyond the immediate expense of making the customer happy. Instead, ask yourself, what’s the worst case scenario here? What’s the lifetime value of this customer value that would be lost. How could this hurt future sales, new customer acquisition, and your reputation? 

Three strikes and you’re out

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time and you may as well kiss your reputation goodbye. The unwritten law here is that most customers will forgive you the first time you screw-up. Some, will forgive you a second time it happens. Get to the third screw-up and you are out!

The laws of reputation management will change

The rules will change, and change frequently as the underlying technology changes. Reputation management is still a developing process. Make sure you are working with someone that understands the changes carrying us into the future.