Reputation management is becoming a buzzword in the business arena and it is something that lawyers should be aware of too. Unfortunately, there are people who will post untrue negative information about businesses and professionals out of malice, or competitiveness. With the permanency of the internet, where information can be stored indefinitely, even a small amount of negative online feedback can impact your business for a long time into the future. The potential for internet trolls is something that all law firms should be mindful of, and it is a good idea to take preventative measures to help limit the damage caused by internet trolls and other online pests.
What are internet trolls?
“Troll” is a term that is often given to an individual who deliberately harasses others or starts arguments online. Trolls can make negative or inflammatory comments on online discussion boards, blogs, and social media, post unpleasant reviews about people and businesses, or otherwise cause trouble.
Being on the receiving end of negative feedback from internet trolls can be extremely damaging for your business, as their comments can be read by a wide range of people and can potentially deter people from using your services, or stop them from trusting you. Unfortunately, most of the information posted by trolls is unjustified or overly harsh, it is difficult to remove, and it can stay visible for years.
How can you protect your reputation online?
As a lawyer, your livelihood depends on your reputation, so it is important to protect it as much as you can. Being aware of the possibility of negative online feedback and internet trolls and taking steps to deal with them if they occur can potentially make a big difference to your future and your business.
Protecting your reputation is an ongoing process and it starts with being aware of the information that is out there about you or your business. It is a good idea to check regularly and conduct searches on yourself or your business to see what people are saying about you. There are a number of software platforms that are available to help you monitor social media sites and other internet sites to check what people are saying about you, or you can simply set up a google news alert or conduct regular searches on google.
What should I do if I find something negative?
If you find out that someone is bad-mouthing you online, there are a few options as to how to deal with the situation. Generally it is considered to be best to ignore trolls or people who are deliberately trying to provoke you, but in some cases you may feel it is necessary to respond.
If you choose to respond to trolls, it is important to make sure you give a calm and professional response and don’t allow yourself to react emotionally. Getting a third party involved in responding can be helpful as they may have less emotional involvement, and therefore be better able to respond in a calm manner.
In some cases, you may be able to request that negative comments be removed from sites, but you will probably need to provide strong justification for the request.
Don’t let internet trolls ruin your business. Keep informed about what is being said about you online, and you can hopefully limit the potential for damage caused by online troublemakers.