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    Have you ever Googled your name? Have you followed it up by your company name? Does that question alone make your stomach churn with what might come up from college or early adulthood when you were an entirely different person?

    The truth is, we all have some skeletons lurking around the internet and in a world where online life and personal brands are on the rise, online reputation management is becoming increasingly important. 

    When Your Online Reputation Matters

    Most of the time, people treat online profiles as an extension of their mind, sharing thoughts, special moments, and general happenings of their daily life. But for those of us that decide to build a business, work for a well-known employer, or rent in a competitive city (like the majority of the young adult population), your online reputation is what could make or break big opportunities! 

    So how do you find out if your online reputation is at risk? Do a quick name search. If more nonprofessional results show up associated with your name (old tweets, casual social media photos or results irrelevant to you and your beliefs), this is a sure sign you should spend more time developing or beefing up your professional profiles. Pages like LinkedIn, Medium, or even Pinterest can give people a window into who and how you operate in the world. This becomes especially important when the general public, employers, business partners, or landlords are considering doing business with you. Even if you aren’t thinking about doing business online, that doesn’t mean it stops people from wanting to do business with you based on what they see. 

    Your Brand is a Reflection of Your Reputation

    When you walk into a room, what are you known for? In our culture centered around achievement and perception, we often get lost in the noise and are creating shallow, external based connections more than ever. Therefore, what/how we present to the world is often taken as fact, but our actions make all the difference in the long term. 

    Take e-commerce tycoon Amazon for example. Their brand is a reflection of their reputation of fast delivery, variety, and multimedia. These are very positive and admirable qualities, propelling people to do business at record rates. However, companies with strong brands but a poor reputation are especially susceptible in these circumstances and can find themselves without the necessary reputational capital to quickly recover. Cadbury, on the other hand, has a strong brand, but in the early 2000’s suffered greatly when their products were linked to the obesity epidemic and then a salmonella outbreak in their facilities dug them into an even deeper hole. However, they recovered within the public eye by focusing on their positive and quirky brand messaging vs. the products themselves. 

    Having a strong brand history saved them even though their reputation was in a crisis. If you or your brand work on building a strong online reputation, with factual information, professional appeal, and a true reflection of your values, then it will be easier to bounce back from any setbacks that may sway people from engaging with or buying from you in future. Focusing on reputation management before it’s too late is often more effective than crisis planning at the time you’re facing online heat.

    Reputation Management in the World’s Largest Marketplace

    In a world full of options, why would someone choose to buy from you? It’s the age-old question that helps to synthesize good marketing, but now more than ever, reputation is even more important than marketing because word of mouth is still what compels people to buy most. Reviews matter!

    Online reviews/testimonials are the greatest reflection of your reputation for newcomers. On Amazon, certain companies will have a drastic increase in sales because of the overwhelming positive responses left by previous customers. Companies with few or no reviews are often skipped over or subject to second guessing. 

    When you have strong social proof among audiences and customers, it will improve the overall visibility of your brand. Your website ranking will increase, and more customers will be exposed to your brand. Each review site will have different methods in the way they rank the content on their own site, but Google grabs the information as well. Google often treats reviews as fresh content for your brand and positive reviews is one of the ranking factors they use in the search engine algorithms.

    Always Be Proactive 

    Whether you are an apartment hunter, personal brand or growing an online storefront, your online reputation management becomes increasingly important for opportunities that lie ahead. 

    Bottom line is:

    • 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has a 4-star rating
    • 40% of consumers only read reviews written in the last 2 weeks
    • 89% of consumers read businesses responses to reviews

    Looking into where your reputation stands and working towards improving it online and through word of mouth is going to serve you in the long term.