You might have been told to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of criticism or ignore it and it will go away. So maybe there is a negative news story that featured your business or a few bad comments on a customer review site. “Well, it’s the internet,” you think to yourself, “Here today, gone tomorrow.
The next distraction will come along and it will be forgotten.” You recall that one celebrity scandal was discussed day and night on social media a few months ago, and now you strain to remember it. So you suppose the bad stories about your business or brand will disappear.
Why the Internet Sticks
We think of people who get through scandals here and there unscathed as being made of Teflon, because Teflon is a material that doesn’t let things stick to it. The internet may seem to be this way at first glance with its short-attention span obsessions that disappear in a cloud, but don’t be so sure. The internet is sticky in more ways than one.
You want your website to be sticky, in the sense that people not only visit it but are engaged once they are there in myriad activities, but sadly, chatter on the internet also sticks to your reputation.
But isn’t bad news or off color gossip on the internet forgotten in like, twenty minutes until the next big thing comes along? That might work in the world of big celebrities everyone recognizes. For stars, even bad press is at least press and attention.
However, whether you run a Fortune 500 company or a mom and pop store, the last thing you can afford is bad chatter. Bad reviews stay on those sites, people chatter on Twitter and Facebook and once you make a bad first impression in the minds of many, it is hard to get a second chance. The stars usually get another media go at it.
What Works For You Can Work Against You
If you run a business or provide a service, you have an idea of the basic principles of eCommerce. Get people to bite and then go after it. Hook them into your website with high rankings on Google and keep them there with engaging content and discussion. Encourage people to like your posts on social media or to comment on your page. Every bit of effort you put in to create an online presence can be used against you if a negative story comes out.
Perhaps you are hit with a lawsuit or there was a high profile news story about something unfortunate that happened in your store or restaurant. If you put extensive effort to be on the radar of as many people as possible, all of those building blocks can come tumbling down as people who recognize your company or brand discuss the unfortunate incident and may indicate they may not want to do further business with you.
If this is someone with thousands of Facebook friends, it could spell trouble for your brand.
What To Do About It
Restoring your reputation is not impossible after such a blow, but it is unlikely you will be able to pick up the pieces all by yourself. Think about it. Building an online presence took cooperation and consultation about your website, and maybe you took the advice of a sales and traffic expert.
After that, you friended influencers who in turn made others aware of your business. Just as you needed to consult with experts at the beginning of your journey, you may need to hire a reputation defender who will be your champion and who is skilled at revamping reputations in trouble. You may decide it is enough to release a statement or create content touting your company, but the main problem is it will seem biased.
A reputation defender can craft blog posts, social media updates, and short videos in a way that seems unbiased yet authoritative. It is hard to recruit individual champions who can write a few nice lines about your company or say good things about your brand.
As with a medical or financial problem, you need a specialist who will help you get out of the bind and has proven experience in breathing life in to reputations in trouble. In addition, don’t think a high Google ranking will necessarily rescue you. What people are saying on social media means a great deal, and it is a nearly impossible task to keep track of all of the opinion makers who have you on their radar.
We all can think of public figures and businesses that have recovered after a severe reputation knock-down. The main thing is not to give up hope and come up with a game plan for earning back your customers and driving business. It might not happen overnight, but gradual progress is preferable to a continuing decline.
Get your name out there in social media and in the blogosphere in a positive light and the reputation hiccup may be forgotten.
To make the process go faster and with surer results, hire a reputation manager to help you recoup the credibility loss and prevent such PR disasters from getting out of control again.