Online Reputation: Most of us are taught from a young age that we shouldn’t care about what other people say about us. What matters is only the opinion of those closest to us, and if someone has a problem, it is theirs to deal with. In fact, that idea is a key element of positive thinkers and postulate gurus the world over.
“What other people think about you is none of your business. It’s their business. Wasting your time thinking about what they are thinking about you serves nothing. Seeking approval is a waste of your time and energy. It will only bring you suffering.”
This is an idea that resonates with many people. It feels liberating and it frees people from worry. All that really matters, according to this school of thought, is your own opinion about yourself. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, other people’s opinions are actually incredibly important.
Why Reputation Matters – Online Reputation
Your reputation is hugely important, whether you are an individual or a business. And a reputation is, very simply put, the sum total of everybody else’s opinion about you. What you need to hope for is that an overwhelming majority of people see you in a positive light. However, this may not always be the case.
In certain aspects of life, it is actually not advisable to go through life maintaining that the opinion of other people doesn’t matter. This can be very damaging to your life, not necessarily in terms of your personal feelings of self-worth, but rather in terms of your future prospects. Because those are the prospects where other people will judge you, based on anything they can find out about you, i.e. your reputation.
The Importance of Reputation Management
Reputation management must start by understanding the importance of online reviews. The most recent 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey highlights this:
“84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.”
What the above tells you is that public opinion may not change the way you see yourself, but it will certainly change the way other people see you. That is why your online reputation is so important, and why you should work hard at maintaining it.
How Your Reputation Can Get Damaged – Online Reputation
The ways in which your reputation can get damaged are vast and varied. Some of them may be more surprising than others. They include:
You are not responding to negative criticism. People understand that not everybody can be happy all the time. However, people do not understand why you can’t respond professionally and with courtesy.
Slander and libel coming from disgruntled employees, ex-partners, online bullies, or trolls
Not having an online presence
The last item is something few people realize can be bad for their reputation. This is perhaps because technological developments have gone so quickly, that it seems hard to keep up. It seems like only yesterday that the majority of businesses didn’t even have a website or, if they did, it wasn’t interactive. It took almost no time for it to go from that, to people expecting that they can conduct all of their business with you through the power of the smartphone while they are traveling through an area thousands of miles away from you. If you do not have a strong online presence, customers will distrust you and feel you may have something to hide. Losing trust is the worst thing that can happen between a business and its customers.