How’s your online rep? Really?

One prevalent risk today that is generally ignored by most entrepreneurs and small business owners is that of their reputation especially their online reputation. What is most important in this regard is how to handle this risk across several platforms.

Your reputation is affected online mostly through consumer comments and your social media elements. Customer reviews and comments are critical to your branding and your reputation. You must address any negative comments immediately. Customer engagement online is critical to your marketing and branding success as well as an effective strategy for reducing risk to your reputation.

Search engine results can also play an important part in how your company is seen and considered. Have you or your marketing people ventured out to a search engine of late and typed in the company name? You may be shocked at what comes up. While reputation management is not rocket science, it does require constant diligence and a savvy and experienced hand.

Most small businesses do not tend to their online reputations at all and suffer in sales because of it. You can’t allow that risk to continue to float out there. Your social media presence is intricately linked to your brand and your reputation. You simply can’t react to a bad situation when it suddenly erupts. Again, proactive engagement and prevention is the strategy that works. If you can’t handle it yourself, find an experienced hand that can. Forget the cost. What would the cost be in lost business if left unattended?

Those brands and companies that are proactive in managing their online reputations are those companies that fare the best in the marketplace. People like to do business with people they like. So, designing your social media platforms to be interactive, to encourage creative engagement, allows you to manage your reputation, and your risk, on a close and intimate everyday level.

It is, also, important to educate your employees with regard to risk management. Most employees have no concept at all of risk and how it affects the company, as well as their jobs. Educate them in risk management and set up policies that will help your employees to be more aware when they are out online. Every employee has the potential to be a brand ambassador.

You must develop a plan for online reputation risk and find the skilled people that can attend to your social media platforms properly. Today, your online presence is serious business. There is so much to risk because so much can wrong quickly. It is far easier to proactively manage everyday than have to put out a serious fire because you have ignored your social media engagement. That fire could very well burn your business to the ground.