Historically, reputation has been a word-of-mouth affair. In the last century or so print, TV, and radio, have played a part. But the internet has changed the equation entirely. Now, the world is viewed through computer screens, and with it, social media, search results, and artificial intelligence have further complicated who participates in a brand's reputation. Whether it be for a product, business, or individual, reputation is now defined by how it is perceived through digital interactions.
Online reputation has a significant influence on both businesses and individuals. For businesses, a strong online reputation can boost customer trust, increase sales, and attract high-quality candidates, while a poor one can lead to loss of trust, financial decline, and recruitment challenges, as seen in United Airlines' case.
For individuals, such as Justin Bieber, a positive online reputation can enhance job prospects and networking opportunities, whereas a negative one can harm job prospects and personal well-being. Both businesses and individuals need to manage their online reputation carefully due to its enduring and impactful nature.
How Reputation Affects Businesses
Managed effectively, online reputation can be a potent tool for businesses. It can increase brand visibility, and customer loyalty, and eventually drive sales growth. But it's fragile – a single negative review or an unfavorable social media post can damage reputation, leading to a loss of trust, diminished opportunities, and even financial losses.
There are key factors that contribute to a positive reputation, including quality products or services, customer satisfaction, strong corporate responsibility, and effective communication.
The role of executives, particularly the CEO, in shaping a company's reputation is difficult to overstate. Executives, with their behavior, public perception, and crisis management skills all playing pivotal roles, blur the line between personal and business.
Elements like poor product or service quality, sub-par customer service, unethical practices, and inadequate crisis management can lead to a negative reputation.
Finally, there is a difference between proactive and reactive reputation management. The former involves consistent effort in building and maintaining a positive reputation, while the latter focuses on responding to potential reputation-damaging situations.
Further reading: Learn more about how reputation affects business here.
How online reviews and ratings affect business
Online reviews and ratings are like modern-day word-of-mouth recommendations – on steroids. Positive reviews can really help a brand's reputation, instilling trust and credibility based on "social proof". However, negative reviews can also damage a business's image and , ultimately, revenues. They provide a public record of customer dissatisfaction, which potential customers may use to evaluate the trustworthiness of a company.
Private feedback, through customer surveys, is not shared publicly and provides better reputation protection while still giving the company feedback. Surveys offer a direct line of communication with customers, allowing brands to capture insights into their experiences and perceptions. Conversely, negative feedback provides an opportunity for improvement.
How Reputation Affects People
For individuals, online reputation is a critical factor influencing their personal and professional lives. It can shape job prospects, personal relationships, and social standing. A positive online reputation can lead to better job opportunities, stronger personal connections, and improved social standing. However, a tarnished online reputation can cause harm, affecting career opportunities and personal relationships.
Further reading: Learn more about how reputation affects people.
Understanding Your Digital Footprint
Your digital footprint is the record of your online activity. It includes everything from your social media posts and comments to your online transactions and the websites you visit. Having a clear understanding of your digital footprint is essential for managing your online reputation. Be mindful of what you share online, as once something is posted, it's challenging to erase entirely.
Further reading: Learn more about digital footprints here.
Measuring Online Sentiment
Sentiment is how people feel about something. Sentiment analysis measures the general attitudes and feelings people have about a brand, individual, or topic online. Online sentiment analysis, also called opinion mining, uses artificial intelligence to determine whether the online discussion about a subject is positive, negative, or neutral.
It's particularly useful in monitoring social media and online review sites. There are several methods to gauge online sentiment, including the use of simple tools like Google Alerts, social mention tools, social listening tools, and more.
Measuring online sentiment helps brands track their reputation, respond to negative reviews or comments effectively, and ultimately provide better customer service.
Further reading: Learn more about how sentiment is measured.
Misinformation, and AI Propaganda
In the age of information overload, fake news, misinformation, and AI-driven propaganda can significantly impact an individual's or business's online reputation. It's crucial to maintain a vigilant approach and regularly monitor your online presence. Make efforts to debunk false information promptly and transparently to preserve your reputation.
Further reading: Learn more about how fake news affects brands.
Reputation Management Case Studies
One can learn quite a bit from case studies. Here is a collection of before and after scenarios to give you a more solid understanding of the kinds of issues that can be solved using reputation management.
Further reading: Select case studies can be found here.
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics, and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.