Due the real-time nature of social media, your business reputation can be made or broken in 140 characters or less. This is not a warning, but a reality. There are also hundreds of complaint websites like Hellopeter.com with high organic rankings where people can vent their frustrations and experience with a particular brand or company. Having an online reputation management strategy is not a nice to have anymore, but a must have.

The digital world keeps on evolving and technology changes at the speed of light. It’s 2013 and more people are connected these days than ever before with the birth of smartphones and tablets. If someone posts something negative about you online, will you know about it? Will you be able to respond in a timely manner? Will it hurt your reputation online?

If someone leaves a negative comment about you online on one of the complaint channels, it’s likely that it will be displayed on the search results of Google when someone searches for your brand name or even key employees working for your business. The problem is that these complaints stays on the internet forever and sometimes legal action can get them removed, but it’s not as easy as you think.

How can you protect your internet reputation in this interconnected world? Find a couple of tips below to help you with online reputation management.

Online reputation management tips

Monitoring: Every business should setup monitoring and listening outposts where they can see what people are talking about them online. This will also help you identify certain issues relevant to your industry before it turns into a snowball. Negative comments spread like a wildfire online. Be prepared and catch these before they turn out of hand and negatively affects your reputation.

Response: If someone posts a negative comment about you online, what are you going to do? Take some time and study the situation. Don’t react to negative criticism with an argument as it can worsen the situation. If you take this approach it’s like trying to put out a fire with petrol. Simply put, it doesn’t work. Assess the issue, resolve it and be helpful. Try and turn the situation around. This can sometimes turn the person who left the comment into a brand advocate.

Repairing: It’s not a good idea to delete the negative comments. It could also add more negativity to the overall result. Rather, find ways on minimising the the damage. Why did someone leave a negative comment about you? Is there something wrong in your product offering? Your services? Learn from this and how you can make your business better. Also, respond by acknowledging the problem and that you are in the process of fixing it.

Your reputation online is worth gold. Start creating processes and systems in place so to help you find ways on improving your footprint online. Ignoring the negative comments won’t make it go away.