The world of information is getting complicated. Even once reputable news sources are now having trouble reporting factual stories that are completely free of opinionated, uninformed gossip started in dark corners of the internet. This phenomenon is affecting the reputations of news organizations that have stood for a century as much as they are making turbulence for Facebook users with jealous exes.
So how does a smaller business, institution, or individual keep their online reputation intact? How does online reputation management work in a world where anyone can say anything they want? Well, apparently there is nothing we can do to keep ourselves and our businesses free from the trappings of online trolling, but there is starting to be more awareness about the issue.
There are programs that can monitor for keywords or phrases that come up on review sites. They can inform us of bad press as it is happening. Then we can at least respond.
One thing that everyone can (and probably should, at this point) keep in mind is that everyone in the civilized world is now carrying around a direct link to the internet in their pocket. So we can try to conduct ourselves and our affairs according to that thought. Once the bad review or misinformed rant are out there, however, there really isn’t a lot to be done. We can try to fight it or have it removed, but really all that we can hope for is that our consumers and friends are well-informed, free-thinking people enough that they will not let a minority opinion sway their overall thoughts on businesses, institutions, or people.
The comfort comes when one realizes that one’s reputation is still largely under one’s own control. Our own actions and interactions are what ultimately create the reputation, online or otherwise, that we need to manage. We can carry on and know that we can’t please everyone all the time, but if we don’t violate our own morals then we will probably do alright.