Posted December 15, 2010 2:59 am by with 5 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

78% of people surveyed in a recent poll said they believe it is very important to look up information about people and/or businesses online before deciding to interact or do business with them.

And when they look you up, what will they find? Social media is a great tool for connecting with your customers but it’s also a potential minefield for those who don’t tread carefully. Take the Chipotle restaurant manager who recently posted to Facebook that she’d run over a cat on her way to home. The company says it was the work of a hacker, but more likely it was just a bad joke on the woman’s part. It caused a flood of nasty comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page and even a retaliatory page called Chipotle Hates Cats.

It just goes to show you how little it takes to mar a good reputation online and it’s not just companies that are worried.

The new survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive for Intelius, revealed that 90% of U.S. adults want more control over the information that is available about them online.

* 80% believe their online identity is now as important as their “offline” personal or professional reputation.

* Compared to this time last year, 43% of women said they are now more aware of the information that exists about them online, compared to only 38% of men who say the same.

* 63% said they believe they should check their online information every 6 months or more, but 27% admit they have not done this.

The biggest blow:

* 74% claimed they would most likely refuse to interact or do business with a person or company if they found negative information about them online.

That’s a scary number.

You should be aware that the numbers above were part of a press release surrounding a new website called where you pay a monthly fee in order to manage your online reputation. Still, best interest or not, these numbers probably aren’t too far off the feelings of the general populace.

Reputation has always played an important part in growing a business but now it’s a whole lot trickier. With Google caching every word you’ve ever posted and Facebook fans tagging every unbecoming photo ever taken, controlling your online reputation can be a full time job.

Here are a couple of quick tips to help protect your rep.

— Never post in anger. No matter how right you are, your remarks will always come back to bite you.

— Always assume what you’re posting in private will become public. It’s simply too easy to cut, paste and email. If you wouldn’t want your customers or clients seeing it, don’t post it.

— Routinely sweep through Twitter, Facebook and Google searching for your own name and your company name. If you find complaints, address them. Stay on top of the bad buzz so you can deal with it before it gets out of control.

Do you have a tip to share? Post it in the comments below then go Google yourself. You may not like what you see, but you’ll be glad you did.

  • In my opinion people must check their on-line resources or whatever more often if they want to use them for profit!

  • To be honest, I’m amazed this number is so low (only 78%). It’s a force of habit now to Google anyone’s name who comes across your desk – especially when it pertains to a potential business partner, employee, babysitter, or whatever. I expect this number to rise each year until it’s not even a question anymore. Great post!

  • Joshua Corbelli

    Thanks for the post. It’s time we see hard numbers reinforcing what most of us already know. I do say, however, how amazing it is that some people still don’t understand the power of their online profiles. Pretty amazing. Anyhow, great post, look forward to more.

    • Cynthia

      Andrew and Joshua, I think that for people like us (I’m making assumptions knowing you read this blog), Googling someone is a given. But there’s a huge group of people that barely turn their computers on and some that don’t even own computers! Can you imagine?

      Personally, because I do spend so much time online, I often forget that others don’t come by it naturally. My husband, my parents, even one friend of mine who creates amazing music videos but can’t get the hang of narrowing a Google search to find the person she’s looking for.

      In the future, a Google Check will be one of the boxes on all worker applications right after police check and drug screening.

  • Great post Bernie! Online reputation management has never been so important with more and more consumers going online to research and read reviews before making a purchase. We at chatmeter always advise our clients to contact negative reviewers privately, as this avoids a public confrontation and is the best route to pursue when refunding a disatisfied customer.

    If you are looking for some free tools to help you monitor your online reputation, check us out. We have tools that help businesses monitor the reviews and chatter about their business, track their social media pages, and compare with their local competition. We also have page for affiliates here: