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March 12, 2015

No Reputation Online as Damaging as a Poor Reputation

It’s clear to see why having no reputation online is just as bad as having a poor reputation

Some company executives believe that staying silent will safeguard their and their firm’s reputation online. Yet having no reputation online can be just as damaging as a having a poor reputation.

Company executives recognise reputation risk

Deloitte’s 2014 Global Survey on Reputational Risk showed that company executives across the world see reputation as a major risk for their firm.

Data revealed that 87% of company executives surveyed believed that reputation risk is more important than other strategic risks their businesses currently face. Meanwhile 88% of companies are explicitly focusing on managing reputation risk. Yet 47% of those questioned feel least prepared to deal with reputation risks posed by third parties.

Third parties can damage a company’s reputation online

Third parties pose a particular risk to a company’s reputation in the modern era because they have access to online technologies.

With these technologies third parties can utilise social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and other digital assets such as blogs and forums to assault a firm with a barrage of unwanted content. This strategy proves effective because these sites are trusted by Google, as the search engine sees them as reliable sources of information.

Therefore they will rank on the first page of a search for a company’s name on Google. Data from Chitika shows that the first page of a search on Google garners 92% of all search traffic. This means that people will see the unwanted content that could put the company in an unflattering light and damage its reputation online.

Staying silent will not protect a company’s reputation

Some company executives believe that the best way to combat reputation risk is to say as little as possible. After all, if you don’t say anything, how can somebody use it against you?

In the modern age, people are going to talk about prominent companies and their executives online, whether they say something for them to talk about or not. By staying silent, executives are leaving themselves open to comments posted by third parties online – to which they will be ill prepared to respond to or control. Worse, the comment has a strong chance of ranking on the first page of Google for the company name in question.

Successful executive targeted by tech-savvy ex-partner

A recent article ‘Being “Off the Grid” May Damage Your Online Reputation’ published on the Huffington Post blog talks about a case where a successful company executive found it hard to combat unwanted content online. The individual had purposely avoided using social media and other online profiles, for privacy reasons. Consequently when a former friend defamed him online, he had no digital assets with which to reclaim ownership of the first page of Google for a search for his name. The incident wrought serious damage on his and his firm’s reputation.

How can company executives build a reputation online?

Company executives need to be proactive. It is important to build a good reputation online to protect yourself from potentially damaging comments from customers or competitors. There are several steps executives needs to take to construct a positive reputation online:

  • Create digital assets: The first step is to create digital assets such as social media profiles and blogs. These assets rank highly on Google as the search engine sees them as authoritative. They can be used to populate the first page of Google for a search of a company executive’s name.
  • Optimise digital assets: Assets need to be optimised for the search engines to ensure they rank for the executive’s name. If Google doesn’t associate the asset with the name, it won’t know to feature it in a search.
  • Post content to digital assets: Optimisation alone will not be enough for a company executive to control the first page of a Google search for their name. The search engine likes fresh, relevant content, so executives need to post regular content to ensure their assets rank.
  • Put out PR: PR is another digital asset that ranks highly on Google. The search engine sees them as authoritative because they originate from news outlets. Distributing news stories also gives company executives an opportunity to promote themselves and their firms in a positive light.
  • Monitor their reputation: As an extra preventative measure company executives need to monitor their reputation online, so they can spot any issues early. Setting up alerts (e.g. Google Alerts) can flag up unwanted content as soon as it appears online.

Company executives need to establish a presence online

It’s clear to see why having no reputation online is just as bad as having a poor reputation. If a company executive doesn’t have a digital presence, they have no way of limiting the damage unwanted content can reap on the first page of a search on Google for their name. Yet if they actively engage in online reputation management they can ensure that they and their business maintain a good reputation online.

Check out Igniyte’s guide on company reputation management to find out more about how to safeguard corporate and executive reputation online.

For more information or a confidential discussion please contact Simon Wadsworth on email simon@igniyte.co.uk or tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8686.

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