Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reputation Management For Dealership - The Beginning

More and more dealerships are concerned with Reputation Management but the vast majority don't understand the difference between true Reputation Management and damage control. I am not a Reputation Management expert by any stretch of the imagination but this is what I have learned in months of research. I am sharing this in hopes that we can learn how to avoid disasters together. It's always more fun when we can learn together isn't it? If you want to read about this from an expert I highly recommend Andy Beal's new book (mine is on pre order).

First let's take the definition of Reputation Management from Wikipedia. They define it as "the process of tracking an entity's actions and other entities' opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. All entities involved are generally people, but that need not always be the case".

Some SEO providers sell their reputation management services saying " for every negative post we find we will create 10 positive posts.". My fear is what they really mean is that they will go to wherever that negative post is and create 10 fictional user ids so they can make "not me" posts. This tactic was probably fine in 1984 but today's Internet users are far to savvy to fall for this. (In the spirit of full disclosure I don't know if this is how they would handle things or not, but that is what the ad implies.)

High quality reputation management starts long before that angry person starts blogging about how they have been wronged. It starts with creating a positive online presence in a wide variety of online channels. This takes time, it takes hard work and to really be effective long term I feel you should become a quality member of a couple of online communities (Subaru enthusiasts site maybe? Or your local chamber of commerce if they have an online form, and always posting positive customer feedback on all of your websites). The more positive references to your name or your dealership the harder it will be for those negative things to get to the front page of Google and the easier it will be to get rid of them if you do.

No one can guarantee that if something negative is said about you that it will ever leave the front page of the search engines, and trying to bury it is going to cost you thousands of dollars just to try. Isn't it better to hedge your bets and start filling the search engines with positive things today?

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