Here is an article from the Revitalization Partners newsletter about the importance of managing your online reputation. At Juniper Capital, we are committed to sharing quality business advice that helps you achieve and maintain success. We specialize in real estate investments with private money loans in Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest. Share your thoughts on this blog, so we can continue to provide you with good information:

The importance of managing your online reputation. we are offering some thoughts on how to take action regarding online reputations.

The most important thing to remember when managing your online reputation is that, no matter the size of the business, your prospects, customers, vendors, anyone and everyone are talking about you. They post, tweet, comment, and blog. Even a business that has nothing to do with the online world can have one blistering review go viral and ruin decades of work.

One of the most recent business commandments is “Be Transparent.” Opening up to criticism and feedback can be beneficial for companies that embrace social media as a high priority. Allow your employees to talk about products and services publicly. Establish a 1-to-1 communication channel. Ask for feedback. Address criticism publicly with a positive, understanding tone. Put your company in a positive light by being the bigger poster.

Easier said than done? Most small and medium sized companies do not invest much on communication. They struggle with the concept. As a result, their online efforts are often incorrect or inconsistent.

There are two types of negative content that companies should be aware of:

1. Complaints on social networks – These need to be addressed properly, but unless your company has serious problems, they do not pose a real challenge to your business.

2. Online reputation bombs – This is negative information that is prominent in search engine results, meaning when someone Google’s your brand name they find defamatory content. Unlike social network content, this can negatively affect your reputation and damage a business.

Online reputation bombs can consist of:

1. Negative reviews – Review sites allow users to express their opinion on your brand. Did they like your service/product? Would they recommend it? Negative reviews can affect your sales, and addressing the criticism on the site may not be enough. Websites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer are examples of platforms that feature this kind of negative content.

2. Hate sites – Some people go beyond simple negative reviews and create ad hoc websites with their defamatory opinions, some containing illegal content. So-called “hate sites” can address companies and public figures with insults and false information. Needless to say, a search result like “The truth about (Name of Your Company)” or “(Name of Your Company) scam/rip off” will make potential customers run away.

3. Negative media coverage – P.T. Barnum famously said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” That may be true for controversial public figures like Paris Hilton, but often unfavorable media coverage negatively impacts companies and brands.

Everyone has a right to express their voice about your brand. There are, however, certain boundaries that need to be respected. Some negative content online is actually illegal, especially if it uses defamatory language, reports false information or is specifically aimed at damaging your company’s reputation.

What can you do to defend yourself? Depending on the scope of the problem, several paths can be pursued to restore your online reputation:

1. Aggressive SEO – If someone Google’s your name, your website and its pages should appear on page 1 and 2 of the search results. High ranking web sources talking about you may also show. If they display false information, the first thing that you or your online reputation management company should do is devise a search marketing strategy that increases the ranking of your proprietary positive content. Search engine optimization is too important to be ignored, especially for restoring your image.

2. Review removal – If a user claims something false about your company and the review is clearly aimed at destroying your reputation rather than providing feedback or if the review contains improper language, a legal liaison and a quick reaction makes it possible to remove the negative review.

3. Online investigations – In cases of serious attacks to your image, it may be necessary to hire skilled online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers via email tracing, data cross-indexing and other information collection techniques. Cyber investigations are the definitive path to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.

Your online reputation simply is your reputation. In the digital era, nothing is protecting you from criticism. This is good from a freedom of speech perspective, but bad if your company has been defamed and attacked. Our advice is devote the proper budget to preserve and foster your online reputation. Put yourself in the driver seat.

Revitalization Partners is a Pacific Northwest business advisory and restructuring management firm with a track record of achieving the best possible outcomes for their clients. They specialize in improving the operational and financial results of companies and providing hands-on expertise, with a focus on small and mid-market organizations. Contact Revitalization Partners for the best resolution in the fastest time with the highest possible return.

Revitalization Partners… when a company is worth saving.