Your Reputation Precedes You

What is reputation to your business? It’s your lifeblood! In the modern digital world of Yelp reviews, movie critics and 5-star Uber ratings, managing your reputation and public image are more important than ever.

They can take decades to build and only take seconds to destroy or in the digital world, one click or one negative post that picks up a bit of steam. We’ve seen it time and time again, high-profile household names brought down by a gesture or practice that went viral, a few negative reviews or a controversial tweet. But how much do we really know about building a good reputation in the digital age and how do we build it in this somewhat faceless business environment?

How much is your reputation worth?

Firstly, we’ve got to pinpoint exactly how much reputation is worth. Now, like other intangible variables, it can be hard to place a dollar value on.

It’s like trying to put a dollar value on Richie McCaw’s leadership or toughness. All we know is it’s extremely valuable and we suffer when it’s injured or absent.

In a recent survey conducted by leading global PR and communications firm BursonMarsteller, 95% of CEOs believed that their business’ reputation plays a pivotal role in the success and profitability of their business. However, a tiny 19% had systems and procedures in place that could measure the value of their reputation.

In a world that is driven by data, it’s easier than ever to gather data that can quantify your brands’ reputation. Whether it’s scoping online reviews for keywords, gathering feedback from clients via AI algorithms or simply surveying your online platforms regularly, we have the tools to turn this intangible variable into tangible data.

If its out there, it will be found

Take a second to consider your personal and business’ digital footprint. What is out there about you?

In the past, when reputation was spread through word-of-mouth, negative reviews or feedback this could be washed over and forgotten. It may have taken some time but eventually, they would have been replaced.

However, as many people are beginning to realise, nothing goes away in the digital age. We constantly hear about it – a Facebook status or a negative news story published 10-years ago popping up to hinder future progress of a company or individual.

In the majority of cases, the first engagement prospective clients will have with your business will be online. Whether it’s 80% of customers choosing to view a brand or product online before committing to a sale, according to Market Track, or a potential lead or referred client checking your business out online before engaging your services.

As search engines continually seek to optimise our searches by developing algorithms that prioritise the most relevant information at the top of the page. Combined with the fact the majority of searchers don’t go past the first page, you better hope the top results are positive customer reviews or value-adding content and not bad press or customer backlash!

How you can build a good reputation

Like all good things, building a good reputation takes time and effort. It’s always best to actively create and maintain the reputation you desire, instead of being reactive and trying to change people’s opinions. As they say, the best defence is an even better offence! Here are a few pieces of wisdom:

Build your digital footprint by publishing relevant and value-adding content across your digital platforms. The best way to do this is to release a regular blog. I’m not talking about a travel blog or a food diary but a blog that’ll provide the reader with real value. Whether it’s industry trends, awesome work you’ve done or team updates. Not only will this help your business be more personable but it’s also the golden ticket in the SEO world. Blogs that are littered with strategically placed keywords can help boost your business to the top of search engines. And as I said, it’s vital positive content is the first thing people see about you online.

Secondly, be honest and be yourself. In today’s society, people can smell a phoney gesture or a meaningless press release from a mile away. Be genuine in your content offering, be yourself. Every business has their own story and tone of voice, use this to your advantage!

Lastly, if you wouldn’t say it, don’t post it! As soon as you press the post or publish button, you’ve lost control of the content, it’s out there and there is no taking it back. Use the 30-minute rule, before you post anything. Write it and then schedule it for 30-minutes later. This will give you time to reevaluate. Don’t release anything in the heat of the moment!

Understand, that your reputation in today’s environment is more important than ever. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t Facebook. We can’t suffer a massive public scandal and then release a new dating app to get back in the good books (maybe one day).

Once your reputation is damaged it can be hard to bounce back. Be proactive in the management of your digital reputation as your reputation truly does precede you.