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 www.truerep.com 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.