The adage goes, “Reputation is everything.” But as digital media continues to flourish, so does reputation—be it personal or professional. Individuals and businesses alike have to consider and monitor what their presence is like and get ahead of any potential issues that may arise.
Why is reputation important? These days, everyone knows how to search for a business before they engage, whether they are looking to make a purchase, use a service, or even get a job. As they search, these potential customers get a bird’s eye view of a business. They learn what sorts of offerings are generally available, and gain a superficial understanding of how the company they are looking for is perceived. Because they are still in the research phase, these individuals have no reason to invest heavily in a particular business. A cursory glance around the industry allows them to get a sense of major players’ reputations. From there these customers dig deeper with the brands that resonate most with them and whose reputation best aligns with their individual values.
As a result, brand reputation management has become more important than ever. Carefully controlling the first impressions that the public has when interacting with your brand can make or break the long-term relationship. Online reputation management for businesses involves carefully monitoring social media channels, reviews, and press coverage, and even keeping close watch over how competitors are being received. Brand reputation often starts from the top, with CEO reputation management. After all, a company’s leadership speaks volumes regarding its values as well as its future. Many businesses have collapsed as a result of not just scandal, but even bad press surrounding their executives.
A negative review here and there doesn’t hurt; in fact, many consumers will see it as making your online reputation more credible, since no business is perfect. For most businesses, reputation becomes a game of numbers: the more responses they can accumulate, the more authentic their reputation is and the more popular they may appear. To encourage brand buzz, many businesses leverage channels like social media to openly engage with their public. CEOs in particular often try to become more vocal and relatable, but this can backfire when they are not careful with their posts.
Engagement does not always go as planned. In fact, we often see the negative effects of social media on businesses. Opening up channels for communication may make the business more accessible to the public, but that can also open the floodgates for negative comments as well as attacks from trolls. CEOs need to be careful to ensure that company values reverberate through every channel of the business. They should also choose to engage with other individuals and businesses that share their values, and that can help the public develop an accurate, positive picture of the business. Proactively attempting to determine what “negative” can come out of every situation—including the various ways every comment may be misconstrued—is a key way that CEOs can maintain their corporate reputation.
Fortunately, there is a range of strategies available to help manage reputation—even after the damage has been done. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your brand’s reputation.