Web Reputation: What It Is and How to Take Care of Online Reputation

Web reputation

Having a good web reputation is important, albeit in different ways, both for individuals and for companies since for both the digital reputation inevitably affects one’s business. Let’s see how to build it, how to maintain it and how to avoid errors in its management

The web reputation is the online reputation of a natural or legal person and consists of the perception that web users have of that specific subject.

Every action that is carried out online, therefore, affects one’s web reputation , since every behavior and every news available on the net contribute to forming the idea that the user creates and the judgment that the same expresses with reference to a person or to a brand.

The personal and corporate web reputation differ in any case for the intrinsic characteristics of each and in particular for the elements that contribute to their creation.

If, in fact, the online reputation of a natural person is the result exclusively of the activities carried out by the same and any opinions expressed by other users, the elements that affect the online reputation of a legal person also concern other aspects. Think of the behaviors held online by third parties, such as company employees , who, although different subjects, are still linked to the brand itself and with their activities can affect the corporate reputation.

Index of topics

  • The importance of web reputation and personal branding
  • How to guarantee a good web and brand reputation
  • How to take care of and improve your web reputation
  • The right to be forgotten as a lifeline

The importance of web reputation and personal branding

Having a good online reputation is important, albeit in different ways, both for individuals and for companies since for both the digital reputation inevitably affects their business.

The close and indissoluble relationship that has now come to be created between online and offline means that the effects of one’s behavior are not limited only to the area in which they are made, but also extend beyond its boundaries.

If a person’s web reputation is formed by the set of actions that the same person performs online, it is necessary to include in these also those apparently negligible traces that are left, for example, in the various social networks that are used, such as comments and likes to content of others.

Not surprisingly, from a legal point of view, even a simple like has a very specific value, given that it has the same meaning as an express approval of the content, so much so that jurisprudence has recognized that the damage to image and web reputation of the employer resulting from a like left by an employee to a comment on a social network justifies the imposition of the disciplinary sanction of suspension from work , integrating the details of the violation of the obligation of loyalty and the principles of correctness and good faith in the regulation of the employment relationship.

On the other hand, we must not forget that, if the web reputation is given by the perception that everyone offers of himself online, it can be built according to a very specific strategy that tends to provide a specific image of himself.

Personal branding , ie the marketing activities applied to the natural person, is one of the tools that can be used to create a specific online reputation and thus “manage” how the person is perceived on the network.

The same goes for the company.

The creation and management of the brand’s web reputation involves the use of various tools that can be adopted by the company in order to promote a specific perception of the brand.

How to guarantee a good web and brand reputation

The online presence of a company requires various considerations concerning on the one hand the tools used for its online activities, on the other hand the subjects who, in various ways, with their actions can affect the corporate web reputation.

The company’s online reputation, in fact, derives directly from the combination of various factors , some internal to it, such as the ways in which marketing activities are carried out, others completely external, such as the reviews and reactions of its users; precisely because of these factors, the company will have to adopt specific tools and strategies according to the element considered.

In particular:

Marketing actions : the company will identify the marketing strategies to be adopted and the operating methods with which to implement them, actions which, based on the specific characteristics, could affect the corporate web reputation because, for example, criticized and not shared by users ;

Specific tools : the company will be able to adopt different marketing tools aimed at promoting the corporate brand, such as storytelling or diversified advertising campaigns. This promotion could also have effects on the online reputation of the company because, for example, it could unknowingly bring out critical issues that are relevant and incompatible with the brand. For example, think of the consultancy company that offers services for privacy adjustment and adopts marketing strategies aimed at promoting its services, which however presents itself with a site that does not comply with the law. In this case, the company’s web reputation would be irremediably compromised;

Protection tools : the company will have to adopt a protection strategy that is bidirectional, i.e. aimed not only at managing critical issues deriving directly from online users, but also at preventing those related to internal subjects.

In fact, we must not forget that if on the one hand it is not possible to prevent certain actions, for example criticisms or negative comments from users, on the other hand the company will be able to create effective procedures for the prevention and correct management of possible criticalities . The corporate web reputation, in fact, is also closely linked to the operating methods with which crisis situations are faced and conducted.

Precisely with this in mind, the company will have to prepare:

An internal policy for its employees that regulates the methods of use of social networks and their online activities, so that they are in line with the company mission, the brand and the values ​​transmitted by it. This correspondence is fundamental for corporate reputation precisely because it directly affects the user’s perception in relation to the corporate brand, especially in cases where the individual employee is easily associated with the brand for which he works;

A management policy of its online presence by identifying the tasks and subjects assigned to the creation, publication and management of the contents to be conveyed through the network, providing for procedures to be followed both for their approval and publication. Anything that is shared on the web directly by the company, or that is attributable to it in any way, significantly affects the creation of an online reputation. Having pre-established procedures that regulate this activity means, for the company, being able to monitor everything that is directly shared by it, both in terms of content and in terms of the methods of sharing (think, for example, of the importance of tone of voice adopted in the various communications to be conveyed).

An internal policy for the management of any critical issues that may occur online (social media crisis, negative comments, negative reviews, etc.), identifying also in this case subjects authorized to intervene, procedures and timing for the intervention. Correct management of critical issues allows the company to maintain and protect its web reputation from incorrect actions that can create irreversible damage for it.

How to take care of and improve your web reputation

The web reputation, as anticipated, can be created through a careful selection of the activities to be carried out online, the contents to be shared and the operating methods with which to carry out these activities.

Achieving a qualified web reputation is not an easy and above all fast process, it is a path made up of several steps that requires, on the one hand, constant monitoring of everything that happens online around the brand, and on the other, specific management activities. concerning the actions that the company carries out directly on the web.

In particular, the company will have to focus on some elements, namely:

Constant monitoring of one’s online presence : constant, continuous monitoring of the activities carried out online directly by the company makes it possible to evaluate the perception of the brand by users and, based on the analysis carried out, allows the company to modify the strategies adopted or change them completely if they are ineffective or even negatively affect the web reputation;

Constant monitoring of the conversations that are created around your brand: the constant control of user conversations guarantees the company to be able to intervene in an effective and timely manner where a criticality should arise. In this hypothesis, targeted and immediate action can make it possible to avoid or limit the negative effects of a possible social media crisis.

Division of tasks and identification of specific reference skills : to protect its web reputation, the company must first identify the reference figures to which it can rely on the basis of specific skills and assign individual activities to them. In particular, three different aspects will have to be evaluated:

Web community manager : the drafting, publication and management of content must be assigned to a qualified person with specific skills in the management of the online presence. Furthermore, the tasks to be performed, the timing and the relative procedures must be identified in a specific and detailed manner. The company that decides, for various reasons, to rely on an inexperienced or unqualified subject, risks that its web reputation will be irremediably compromised by errors which, if committed online, precisely due to the mechanism with which the network works, can have a disruptive effect on his reputation.

Publication procedure : the company will have to agree with the person in charge of online publication a procedure that will have to provide, for the protection of the company itself, the prior approval of what is shared on the network. Approval can take place in the most diverse forms, it may even be lacking if the company decides to rely totally on its social media manager, but inserting a provision of this type in its internal policy means reserving the possibility of controlling the contents and preventing possible problems. which, once realized online, create inevitable misunderstandings and complications that require further management activities.

Crisis management procedure : the company, as already anticipated, in order to correctly manage its web reputation should adopt an internal policy regarding the management of a social media crisis. This means that, in the moment of maximum criticality, having a well-defined and specific action plan allows you to:

identifying the subject (or subjects) authorized to intervene and therefore allows you to have the correct contact person for crisis management;

adopt a single line of action consistent with the values ​​promoted by the company;

limit the possible negative effects deriving from the intervention of a different subject (for example an employee) who, through his own response and behavior, can amplify the negative effect of the crisis;

identify methods and timing for interventions.

The right to be forgotten as a lifeline

A final element that must be considered in relation to the corporate web reputation is the right to be forgotten , provided for by art. 17 of the European Regulation 679/2016 on the protection of personal data ( GDPR ), erroneously considered in many cases as a lifeline for the corporate web reputation, on the belief that it allows the elimination of negative information concerning the company published online.

The article in question, however, recognizes the right to cancellation, in the English version ” right to be forgotten ” only for natural persons, given the scope of application of the Regulation.

It follows, therefore, that the corporate web reputation cannot be managed on the basis of this right , except in the case in which the information to be deleted relates to natural persons who are directly or indirectly connected to the company; but this is a different story.