One of the most important assets of any small business is its reputation – stakeholder opinion can be a driving force when it comes to establishing the value of your brand in the marketplace. As consumers continue to enjoy unlimited access to information and unprecedented freedom of expression online, it seems that Reputation Management has taken on a heightened level of importance for small business owners. What is “Reputation Management” and how important is it to your small business? What is involved and can small business owners manage the process themselves?
Have you ever “Googled” yourself? Using a search engine such as Google has become the universal way to perform research on a person, product, service or company. The results of these searches are the foundation of Reputation Management. More and more, your small business identity is being established through online content. What is written and/or posted by you or others in websites, news, press releases, blogs, social media, etc essentially defines your small business.
Reputation Management is the process of identifying and managing your online content. In an Internet Duct Tape guest blog post, Tim Nash, a reputation management consultant and co-founder of Venture Skills, defines the three basic areas of Reputation Management as:
- Finding out what people are saying about you
- Creating a persona or brand image
- If needed, defending this image
The scope and nature of your online identity is becoming an important way of defining your small business. Right or wrong, true or false, what you or others (clients, employees, competitors, etc.) are saying about your small business online will affect your reputation.