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The 8 Most Damaging Online Reputation Mistakes You Can Make


Warren Buffet once said, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.’ In the high-speed information age of the Internet, we might amend that to say it takes five seconds to ruin it, or nanoseconds if we’re talking about viral content.

Surprisingly, most companies’ reputations aren’t ruined by angry customers or cunning competitors. You’re much more likely to make a gaffe yourself that costs you in terms of customer trust. Here are the most damaging online reputation killers to be avoided at all costs.

1. Social Media Under the Influence

Perhaps the worst mistakes are made when you decide to get on Facebook or Twitter after having a few too many drinks. Companies have to be careful about what they say in posts and tweets. Even if you’re slightly tipsy, the filter that keeps you appropriate may fall by the wayside. There’s nothing more embarrassing than waking up and discovering what you posted the night before.

2. Badmouthing a Client

Never badmouth a client or customer online. The whole point of your online presence is to attract clients and customers. When you say something nasty or inappropriate about one, this sends the message to prospects that you don’t respect them. Even if your product is popular and valuable, you’ll drive them away.

Actually, it’s never a good idea to trash anyone online. This goes for colleagues, competitors, or any other people that annoy you. This rule even applies if a person has said something about you that you don’t like.

You should be building a reputation for being a friendly person that anyone can feel comfortable sharing information with.

3. Flat-out Lying

The urge to lie or bend the truth online is always there. It’s easier to lie through a computer screen than in person. In fact, you may be stretching the truth without realizing it. But the best thing you can do for your reputation is to be honest and transparent. You should always assume that a lie will be discovered and you’ll be exposed to the inevitable damage to your reputation.

4. Embarrassing Photos and Videos

One embarrassing photo or video can completely ruin your online reputation. Think of all the celebrities that have suffered this fate. Be careful about what you’re doing whenever cameras are present. You want your viral video to be one about how cool your products are, not how drunk you were at a party last weekend.

5. Ignoring Customer Complaints

Always respond to customers quickly and attentively. When a customer complains about your company, other potential customers are listening. If you’re AWOL, they’ll be wondering what’s up. Instead of disappearing, engage the customer in conversation. You can turn the complaint into a customer service opportunity by showing that you care.

6. Getting Defensive

Again, if there’s a complaint or someone says something nasty about you, don’t get defensive. This looks bad, even if you’re in the right and the other person is a complete jerk. When you’re defensive, it shows that the person got under your skin and that there might be some truth to the attack. It also shows a lack of confidence on your part. Always handle complaints in a friendly, professional manner.

7. The Invisible Man/Woman

To build a good reputation online, you need to be consistent. Don’t disappear for days or weeks on end. Make it part of your regular routine to be present and interact with your audience online.

8. Online Reputation on Autopilot

Actively monitor your reputation consistently and frequently. Don’t only get concerned with it when there’s a problem. Set up alerts so that you know when people are talking about you and respond quickly when they do.

All on the Same Page

If you have a staff of even one other employee or contractor, make sure they understand how serious online reputation is. Create a reputation policy so that everyone is on the same page and you can effectively avoid making any of these mistakes.