When Does Reputation Management Become Unethical? That is an interesting question posed by Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People.
There is obviously a great deal of power in being able to hide certain search results from the majority of searchers. With this power however, comes great responsibility. This responsibility becomes even more important if one considers that there are currently no guidelines to help guide us through the murky waters of morality.
It is certainly true that by careful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) one can push negative references down the Google search page, or with sufficient other online properties perhaps even off the top 10 page. however you cannot make them disappear. Now with the rise of social media, it is even harder to still all those dissident voices.
The words of Katie Delahaye Paine as recorded by Liana ‘Li’ Evans reflect current reality.
Trying to manage your reputation in a social media environment of today, is just plain silly (and futile), you just can’t.
Both PR Coverage and Social Media (it’s better when they are working together) have a big effect on how companies are perceived and in the end a big effect on what they are doing. The key though, is to measure both what is working and what is not working. Companies also need to understand that people are talking online, they are saying and doing things with brands, products & services, whether you are active in the conversation or not.
The first imperative of course is to try to make sure that the actions of your company are blameless, as far as you can achieve that. With such a policy you no longer need to hide but can become active in the conversations. You probably need a blog and may well decide to be active on Twitter.
One example among many is the CPA advertising network, ClickBooth. Early in the year, there were a number of negative comments from disgruntled affiliates that could be found through search. Now there is a ClickBooth blog and you can also follow ClickBooth through Twitter. The two approaches provide the best possible channels for dialoguing with any who may be dissatisfied. Now that is the way to do reputation management.