When trying to build an online reputation, Brands usually merely slap together a website, set up social media pages, and publish content. Many do not understand that there are deeper layers to online reputation management than merely just having those pages out there on the Internet. It goes beyond setting up profiles and getting (negative and positive) reviews from clients.
I am a lawyer, though I have a deep interest in marketing and online assets building for professional services firms. And I also do work in that area. Recently, a law firm in Lagos named [REDACTED] hired me to critically assess their online assets. For 2 day, I set down to work, accessing and assessing their online trail; then I noticed something: another “law firm” supposedly based in Benin Republic named [REDACTED] had a website that was a carbon copy of the website of this law firm I was auditing their online portfolio. They copied EVERYTHING in the website, down to the partners and associates working with the firm, merely changing their names and educational qualifications.
I pointed this out to the law firm managing partner, and it turned out that he was not even aware of what was going on. I initially takedown proceedings and got the website taken down.
Online reputation management is an issue professional services firms and consultancies should be more deeply invested in. obviously, the law firm was being impersonated and had been for a while before I noticed this anomaly and pointed it out to them. What it also pointed out was the fact that they had neglected their online reputation, such that someone out there took them for easy game and worked to utilize their details, infringe on their intellectual property, and pass off unknown services as theirs.
There is a possibility that this issue would have gone undiscovered for years unless someone had pointed it out. There is also the high possibility that their images were being used to commit fraud, until they were stopped.
Monitoring and Prevention
If you have an online reputation, or your firm has an online reputation, then it is pertinent to actively monitor and prevent intellectual property infringement and defamatory cyber attacks that are aimed at destroying your firm’s reputation. For a firm that cannot employ an in-house team to actively handle their online reputation management, it would be instructive for them to use the services of online marketing experts who in turn will use dedicated deep online search tools to monitor the conversations on the Web about them and discover any infringement of their intellectual property, unfair practises, and defamation of their Brand name.
If a Brand’s online reputation is affected negatively whether in the form of the publication of infringing content, defamatory statements made, or real profiles are passed off under fake names and credentials, then identifying, yanking and ultimately halting that unlawful behaviour becomes the paramount consideration for any firm. In some cases—and depending on the wishes of the firm involved—yanking these infringing content and stopping the unlawful behaviour may not be altogether enough. Some wronged firms may want to go a step further by obtaining court judgments and monetary compensation against the persons involved.
If a firm chooses the latter option for its online reputation management, the wide geographical spread of the Internet may make it difficult and time-consuming to obtain the necessary Court relief(s) because of the fact that these crimes may cross more than one jurisdiction when they were originally being executed. This will ultimately make legal action in that circumstance an expensive undertaking.
The Best Class of Experts to use for Online Reputation Management
Online Marketing Experts: You will agree with me that an online marketing professional with experience in Search Monitoring and online portfolio management will make a better online reputation management resource person than a professional without these experiences.
Lawyers: There are thousands of blogs and websites out there, and the number of online defamation and infringement online continues to rise over time. There is a distinct flavour using an actual lawyer who is highly skilled in online brand management and has actual Domain Name expertise will bring. In addition to monitoring, identifying and having solutions for infringements that can (and do) occur to Brands, a lawyer skilled in Digital Domain will also have a battery of advice under his belt pertaining to legal measures that can be taken against infringers.
In today’s world, perception is everything. What you put out there to the world to read and view is what they will view you as and what they will believe you are. Or, what others put out there about you and your Brand is what people will read and then believe. Investing the time and resources to monitoring what is put out there on you and your Brand, or how your Brand is being used, will help you prevent horrible reputation dives that will give your Brand a negative perception. And remember, perception is everything nowadays.
You will hit a deep low if your Brand has a negative perception out there, or there is infringing or defamatory content out there which you don’t know how to handle or take down. Take active charge of your Brand—if you have one. Even if you don’t—which is a Branding decision on its own, albeit a passively negative one—you might want to start Googling. What you find out there in the Deep Web may surprise you.