What does your reputation say about you?

I had a call from one of my fellow Froggers this morning. Whilst killing some time on a train journey, she read a rather compelling newspaper article she just had to share with me. It was a shocking story of a widowed 65 year old woman, who when visiting her local hairdressers found out she had been having her reputation slandered on the social media site ‘Bebo.’ The woman, who had never used a computer in her life not to mention even owned one, was recovering from a stroke and is now in such a distressed state she is taking pills after discovering the information written about her.

It raises a question here, if someone other than yourself takes your name, brand or product and publishes negative statement about it on a social media site or a blog, how harmful is this to your reputation and are you monitoring what is being said about your company or yourself personally?

The term “reputation management,” is now increasingly well known in the search engine marketing (SEM) world. If a user finds a an article or posting on a website displaying a negative comment in the search results for your brand, they may click the link, and believe what they read, just as people did about the windowed 65 year old in the paper today. If one page can have that much impact on one persons life imagine what it can do to your business? It may lead to devastating effects.

Since the roll out of Web 2.0 there are a growing number of Web sites that offer forums in the spirit of generating user content and visitor interactivity. Sites such as the Epinions.com and even Amazon.com contain feedback mechanisms with discussion boards where unhappy customers can post complaints. Sometimes, discussion pages from these sites can show up in search results, sometimes near to or next to your listings, which could affect your reputation on the web.

Reputation whether online or offline is everything as it could be the make or break of a business. For example, when Bernard Matthews found their stock of Turkey’s had been carrying the H5N1 outbreak of bird flu, the negative press coverage online and offline that followed, caused them a huge loss it profits and valued customers, not to mention serious brand damage.

The search reputation management strategy offered by Leapfrogg monitors online reputation allowing a business to react to any negative press, harmful blog posts and negative topics containing your name or brand, which could be potentially damaging to your business. For those businesses that react quickly to such incidents, there can often be positive effects resulting in damage limitation sooner rather than later.

This story just reminds us of how valuable our personal and business reputations are and the devastating effects it can have on our wellbeing within our lives in any situation and a reminder to us all to keep an eye on what is being said about you.

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