Top 5 Ways to Repair Your Reputation Online
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor
In some cases a bad reputation is deserved. Perhaps in the course of doing business you made a poor decision or had a major flub. Hey, we're only human; these things can happen no matter how professional you try to be. It may be the result of a misunderstanding or poor communication, or maybe you really just stuck your foot in your mouth. Whatever the reason for your bad reputation, however, you can own up to your wrongdoing and find ways to make reparations. But what if your negative reputation is the result of a smear campaign? What if a rumor somehow gets started (or a business rival perpetrates it in an effort to undermine your business credentials) and it spreads like wildfire even though it's not true? You probably don't want to issue a mea culpa since you haven't done anything wrong, so how can you turn the whole ugly mess around? Here are just a few ways to repair your bad rep regardless of what caused it.
Find the perpetrators. If you can prove that a certain person or entity is spreading false rumors about your business online, you have grounds for a lawsuit. Many people seem to harbor that misconception that they can say whatever they want in the online arena and they'll be immune to real-world punishment. But any written defamation of character released into a public forum is considered libel, and therefore subject to laws that govern such actions. Of course, finding the responsible party is no easy feat. You might have to hire a specialist to help you track down IP addresses and such.
Inform host sites. If you discover libelous information circulating about your business you can certainly contact site administrators to have it removed. Unfortunately, this can be like chasing a thousand marbles through a maze with a downward slope; it could really get away from you. Once people pick up on the rumor and it starts to spread you'll have a hard time containing it. But if you catch it quickly, squashing it could save you a lot of heartache down the line.
Speak up. Social media is a tool to use on behalf of your business, so when it gets turned against you it's easy to despair of fixing the damage. However, keep in mind that these vast networks can always be used to spread a positive message to combat the negative press working against you.
Take action. They say that actions speak louder than words, so perhaps your best bet is to do something to disprove the rumors circulating about you. For example, if someone claims that your business is prejudiced against certain groups (like the military or the elderly, for example), go out of your way to invite those people into your business, potentially offering some kind of special deal or discount to show that you have nothing against any particular group.
Get professional help. You're no expert in reputation-building, so when your online business suffers this kind of setback you may want to go to the pros for help in cleaning up the mess. Profile Defenders and Reputation.com are two sites that can deliver the goods. They will target the source of the attacks against you, find ways to neutralize them, and then work to rebuild a good reputation to blot out the libelous rumors pervading the internet. The services can be fairly pricy, especially if you're running a small-scale operation, but it could just save your business.
Post Provided by Amit Hooja