Regardless of your sector, industry, or niche, how your company or business looks to others on the Internet goes a long way in impacting your levels of success or failure in all your endeavors. Customers and prospective clients certainly check out businesses online before they decide to sign contracts or spend money on products and services. For that matter, other businesses and companies vet you before they establish professional relationships or associations with you. You might not realize it, but professionals looking for work might even decide to apply for your positions or look somewhere else just based off of your online reputation, so it can actually impact your very workforce.
While it is possible to have someone on your in-house staff track your online reputation, it's best to have an outside party, agency, or firm have the work contracted. There's an entire profession dedicated to online reputation tracking, and managing it is quite another story. It's to your advantage to have experienced and trained professionals track customer reviews of your business, social media mentions, news articles, press releases, and blogs that discuss your business. Those are the basic fundamentals of just tracking how your business looks online, and professional agencies often have quantitative ways of grading or scaling your online reputation, so you know whether you're getting a D- or an A+, depending on how they break down their scale.
Managing your online reputation will depend on three things. The first is where it is right now, the second is where you want it to get to, and the third is what areas of weakness you need to shore up in order to improve how you look online. This part of things is not unlike search engine optimization, and it certainly has its roots in that field of work.
Managing your online reputation management is a combination of improving your positive factors, while possibly also suppressing any negative ones. Creating content that puts your business in a good light should always happen, but it should also be highlighted and promoted. Furthermore, any content that's already out there and not originally yours that puts you in a positive light should definitely be promoted.
In terms of dealing with criticism or bad news that's out there, three different ways exist to handle it. The first, which is very useful when your business might have done something wrong, is to admit fault, use it as a learning opportunity, and demonstrate clearly how things are different now.
The second and third involve dealing with negative criticism. If you're at all successful, you're going to have 'haters' out there. An analysis of your online reputation might show that their negativity could be as much as 40 percent of mentions out there about you. Promoting the positive pieces available can lower that percentage to 20 or 10. In some cases though, you might just have to drown them out. Running SEO on positive pieces on those same keywords can bump negative commentary to the second page of related Google listings and just make them go quietly away.