“Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.” (Victor Hugo)
You get to a professional conference, sign up at the entrance and clip on your nametag, peek at your phone and see that you’ve arrived a bit early. Good time to grab a coffee and croissant before the refreshments stall gets too crowded. As you sip, you take a look around, trying to find colleagues for small-talk to fill up the time until the lectures start. They always start late.
After a brief introduction – “Hey! How are you? How you doing? What’s going on?” – conversation gets a bit stilted, and every now and then you look to the side, until you notice something really weird: on the wall behind you there’s a big poster with your name and a stupid lawsuit that some angry customer took out on you a couple years back. On the other wall, there are a few family photos you’d rather not share with the people at the conference, and just below, an unflattering review of an unsuccessful product your company put out back in 2009.
Does this sound unrealistic? At a conference, maybe, but on the internet this how you appear, and this is how you look to anyone who’s ever taken a business card from you, who would like to get to know you, and who’d like hire you, try out your products or widen their circle of acquaintances. Many research papers show the huge effect that your online reputation has on people’s decision making once they search for you or your company.
It takes three seconds to type your name into Google, and another few seconds to scan the results. Search results on Google’s first page with your updated profile, your certification, awesome reviews from the last few years mentioning your name – all of these can determine your future, and the success of your business.
So what is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is basically a service that allows you to control the way search engines display results involving your brand, whether it’s your personal name or your company’s. This way, the most relevant results, which you’d like to be made visible, are shown to those searching for information. Reputation management comes to bridge the gap between the way your brand really looks (or the way you want it to be seen), and the way it’s portrayed on the internet.
“80% of reputation damage is a result of incompatibility between buzz and reality.” (Digimind)
Online reputation is a combination of two fields: online public relations, and search engine optimization (SEO). Many SEO companies now offer reputation management services as well. While SEO certainly plays an important part in reputation management campaigns, it’s important to realize that high-quality reputation campaigns need a lot more than just SEO.
How are you affected by your online reputation?
Much, much more than you think. It’s enough just to take a look at the statistics to see how relevant your online reputation is:
- 92% of consumers trust information found over the internet more than any other source.
- 70% of consumers check out online ratings and reviews before they buy a product.
- 87% of consumers connect the personal reputation of the CEO to the reputation of his or her company.
- 70% of recruitment managers in the USA have rejected candidates for a job, just because of information they found about them on the internet.
Today, consumers are smarter, and before buying any kind of service or product, they look it up on search engines, social networks, and specific websites whose core function is to organize and rank relevant products and services. Customers, business associates, employers, investors, and potential dates – they’re all searching for you online, and the first impression they have of you will be based on what they find when they scan through the search results. The question is: will they like what they see?