The moment your online reputation is compromised by negative content on the Internet, whether through a complaint, review, social media posting, video or photo, it’s natural to experience the feelings of fight or flight. However, leaping in and responding without a strategic plan could end up fueling more damaging content. The flight option is no more effective, because hiding from or ignoring negative online content will not make it disappear.
Terry Powell of The Entrepreneur’s Source shares some tips to help mitigate the damage and jump start the recovery process for those who find themselves facing an online reputation management dilemma.
Respond As Soon as Possible
Waiting too long to respond can send the message you are either unaware of the issue or that you are avoiding the problem. Instead of waiting for the fire to die down, being silent actually has an adverse effect. The flames are fanned even further by those who continue to post negative content, respond to it or share it. Let the public know you are aware of what is being said and are on top of business by addressing the issue and keeping them updated on the steps you are taking to resolve it.
Admit Wrongdoing and Apologize
Do an honest assessment of the claims being made online and acknowledge any wrongdoing on your end. The root of the problem must be addressed before any reputation mending can be done. If you are responsible for the mistake or if the negative claims are true, the best approach is to get in front of the issue, apologize and let the public know that you are addressing the problem. Never admit fault for untrue accusations or claims. It is important to stand by your values and remain honest in all situations.
Take the High Road
When people are saying negative or untrue things about your business online, your natural instinct may be to respond defensively. But, no matter how satisfying lashing back may feel in the moment, it will almost always do more harm than good in the long run. Instead, make an effort to hold your head high and continue to present yourself in the best light possible. If you are defending actions or refuting false accusations, always remain courteous and professional, even if the other side refuses to play nice.
Share your Story
In most cases, the offensive or negative content can never be removed. However, this does not necessarily mean your online reputation is lost. The Internet was a platform for the negative content, and can be the same amplifier to your positive content as well. Sharing and publishing positive and even neutral online content can help to displace the negative items in the search engine results pages.
Consistently developing new, quality contest through blogging and social media engagement can help to offset negative publicity or customer complaints. Then those who search for your business online are able to see a more well-rounded and complete story of what you and your business truly represent and stand for.
Improving your online reputation takes patience and persistence, but it can be done. Remaining truthful and transparent by strategically sharing your story online can help to mitigate the damage caused by negative online content.