Build and protecting your online reputation: a brief how to guide

peacock reputation

In today’s digital lifestyle, no matter what you do or where you are in life, it’s important to have a good and solid digital footprint. Most people aren’t just interested in the reputation of the brand they are dealing with, but they also want to see the face behind the business. This is where personal branding and online reputation management become friends.

Before the big boom of the internet, most companies could count on the simple fact that news traveled slowly. They had plenty of time to create and develop a plan to any potential problem. With the current growth of consumer generated content any member of the public can quickly post their opinions and concerns to to be seen by everyone.

People trust opinions from other people and this means that bad reviews and comments can destroy your personal and business reputation. If you think that this is the only problem with managing your reputation online, think again. Your competition, former employees, and basically anyone can attack your company and yourself by posting negative information on the web for others to read and comment on.

Sometimes the comments can be untruths or gossip, but it can still damage your reputation. For large organisations these negative comments and feedback can end up in the hands of traditional media (radio, news paper, television) and can create a PR catastrophe.

The importance of online reputation management

When people go online to find out more information about your services or products, you want them to see only positive reviews and a solid ranking on the search engines. Search for your company name or any services and products that you offer. Hopefully, you are listed in the top search results. Also, look at the other results on the search pages for your company or services. What are the other results telling your potential customers?

Other people doing a similar search will exactly see the same results. Have a look at what stands out about your company when you are looking at the search results. Is the information up to date, true and positive? What are others saying about your company on blogs and forums related to your industry?

People from all over the world are using the internet to search and research for answers to their questions and to help them with their purchasing decisions. When a potential customer do a search for anything your company relates to online and all that they find is negative comments, will they do business with you? I think not. Negative comments online can affect sales, employee recruitment, investor relations and your credibility. In simpler terms, negative information about your company can damage your brand.

Process of online reputation management

The process of building, repairing and optimising the digital footprint of your business or personal profile combines PR, traditional marketing, SEM (search engine marketing), social media and various other digital marketing strategies to improve the visibility of your brand.

As more positive and up to date information about your brand is added to various online channels and the search engine rankings, channels with negative information can be pushed further down the list, making them less visible to your customers.

Most of the time when people are searching online for answers, they only look at the first or two pages when they do a search. Increasing the number of digital properties that displays positive information about your company can improve the chances that your customers will only see good information about your company. A good and positive online image will lead to a better brand reputation.

Responding to negative comments

Pushing down any negative results that are relevant to your brand on the search engines is not how you should deal with negative comments and mentions about your brand. Yes, there are methods as explained above to push down the negative comments on the search engines, responding to the negative comments is also important.

Always research the cause and effect of the negative comment or mention so that you can comment with the best positive response. Never insult the person who posted the negative comment. Rather, have a look at why they have posted the comment and try to turn the outcome into a positive one. Many times you can turn a negative foe into a brand advocate.

Having an online reputation management strategy means that you are taking an active interest and part in your reputation online.  As new online trends and technologies are launched every day, this is becoming more important everyday.

Anton Koekemoer


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