Saturday, September 7, 2013

Managing your Online Reputation

I find myself at a workshop this week. The venue is an exclusive suburban place. The Missouri Athletic Club West. It is an alternative to the clubby and traditional downtown facility. It’s more family friendly, accessible, pool, dining, meeting rooms and overall a nice venue.  Attendees gathered for coffee at 7:30 a.m. and the small talk among strangers reveals an almost predictable new reality. Several of the guests used GPS on their smart phones to find the place. One even commented that the place was not particularly well reviewed regarding service and food. Upon further discussion, the report was coming from someone who had, in a hurry checked it out online. It turns out the statement he made, was based on two comments on a site like Yelp! (Note: I say“like Yelp!” because the workshop participant I just met couldn’t recall what review site he was even referring to). Therein lies the rub: an unfortunate broadcast based on two actively dissatisfied customers. I spent the morning and lunch at the place and frankly it was more than adequate and worthy of positive reviews from me. I was not moved enough to the point of trying to sway public opinion online, however. (Damage done. Hopefully the good experiences will outweigh the bad and the club will take appropriate action to maintain its brand and reputation.)     

The  2013 Local Consumer Review Survey by Myles Anderson of BrightLocal  recently published on SearchEngineLand among other findings:
Far more people state that they trust online reviews as much or more than personal recommendations.
The trust in online reviews is growing.
Consumers are viewing far fewer reviews before making their buying decisions
So you might conclude: It's more critical than ever to manage your online reputation, since people are reading fewer reviews, and basing decisions on them.
As an interesting coincidence, an online publisher called me from an industry association that very afternoon to ask me if I could contribute an article to advise members of a distributor network how to manage their online reputation. As it happens, this industry association had identified this topic out of necessity as members have found themselves victims of newly empowered (and unfiltered) online reviewers.
Something to think about. Your communication strategies need to include the digital and online realities. The sources will vary as will the quality and trustworthiness.  How will you manage your online reputation?     

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