It is virtually impossible for any business to exist today without some sort of online reputation. Even those businesses that fail to maintain an online presence are affected by the fact that most consumers are willing and even eager to speak about them online–through social media, review websites and more. A business that actively maintains an online presence and works hard to protect their online reputation with various management tools or through the help of a dedicated online reputation specialist is better able to present consumers with the business image they desire. That said, online reputation management is far more than knowing how to fix your online reputation should something go awry. It is also about understanding how online reputation threats can occur, and what tools you can use to protect against them. Perhaps even more importantly, it is about understanding the impact that technological advancements have on your online reputation and how to properly manage it with this in mind.
How Technological Advancements Affect Online Reputation Management
Understanding what must be done to effectively protect one’s online reputation is not as simple as learning a series of rules and then simply adhering to them. This is due to the fact that those things that can damage or improve your online reputation are constantly changing and evolving–which is why online reputation management must be constantly changing and evolving as well. One of the biggest sources of changes and evolution is various technological advancements, which can be a great asset when used properly and a great detriment when ignored.
Consider first how advancements in technology have actually opened the door to more business-consumer interactions. With various social media platforms and other online forums, consumers are able to easily reach out to and connect with a business. They like to express how they feel about a business or brand, as well as their products and services. They like when a business consults them about new products or services and truly seems to care about their feedback and opinion. Social media allows for a much more personal communication to exist between a business and consumer when the business responds to consumer questions, concerns and comments, and herein lies an amazing opportunity to boost their image. Even where a consumer has something unflattering or downright critical to say about a business, the business can still turn the situation to their advantage by responding promptly and professionally, indicating their care for the consumer and their interest in setting things right. If a business ignores this avenue, however, and fails to maintain a social media presence or fails to communicate with consumers through social media, it can be very detrimental to their reputation.
Consumers today expect to be able to find businesses online easily, and get in “behind the scenes” of these businesses through social media platforms. It is not at all unusual for them to respond harshly and critically if a business fails to step up and create and maintain this desirable online presence. Since many more consumers interact with businesses online today, rather than through brick and mortar establishments, they expect and demand this type of human connection, and with the technology to support it businesses must step up and fill the need.
The Bottom Line
Some businesses may pride themselves in establishing more personal connections with consumers by forming in-person relationships. They may feel that by shying away from a strong online presence they are somehow preserving the idea that online connections are less genuine or fulfilling, and therefore they are making a unique name for themselves. Unfortunately, while some consumers may understand and support this general idea, the vast majority of consumers today will be irritated by the lack of a strong online presence for the business. They are more likely to view it as a mark of the business’ isolation from, rather than connection with, consumers, and they are unlikely to hold anything back when telling others about it. It is therefore in a business’ best interests to stay abreast of technological advancements as regards online reputation management, and connect with consumers in the way that current consumers most desire.