online brand reputation management is a strategic imperative to many companies.
When a potential buyer switches to a new product - it may be a products for it's beloved pets -, in many countries, his first reflex is to go and check on the Internet, using a search engine.
When a candidate looks for a job, he also may find information on a company on social forums, such as the websites that allow you to rate your company.
Like it's said on this blog, Building a brand takes years, but a negative comment, especially one that is highly visible on search engine rankings, can tarnish a company’s image in a small fraction of the time.Many companies do not realize that recent negative comments may appear first on search engine rankings, damaging their online reputation and negatively affect brand recognition. Negative posts that cannot be removed need to be addressed assertively. Reputation Management works to remove or refute negative posts or comments. However, it is often necessary to effectively compete with and push down, or make less visible in the search engines. This can only be accomplished through consistent implementation of quality content that will be seen by Google, Bing and Yahoo as more relevant for the relevant keywords and phrases being searched... The key to building or repairing an online reputation is to show that the company takes an active interest in reaching out to its consumer base.
More than 500 millions citizens and consumers create content on the Internet. They compare, criticize, share their expectations.
Enterprises more and more watch this.
This is also true for our industry:
I met once a lady in charge of Social Media at Saventis.
It's quite easy to be forced to move by the social media space, as it happens to Dell who recalled 4 million batteries when one exploded while a smartphone was doing a movie in a symposium, Nestlé failing at social media after a Greanpeace campaign amplified by social media, or Domino Pizza story on youtube which forced CEO to public excuses.
It is our responsibility to inform our management when we find inapropriate content about our company or our products on the web. Competitors may try to illegally destroy our online reputation. This may not come from a strategy, but just from passionate sales representatives fed up with the market shares they may loose against us. Consumers may also inapropriately report adverse effects or lack of efficacy while not using the products appropriately. They even can be genuinely convinced they are right.
Managing our online brand reputation will become more and more important in the coming years. From the time being, don't hesitate to report to your management when you find content that may attack it.