Your online reputation matters to your employees, your investors and your customers.
Building that reputation takes a lot of effort. Some companies choose to buy their online reputation. Others choose to try to grow it over time. Everyone has the end goal of reaching more customers online.
The truth is that there are pros and cons to buying or building your reputation on the Internet. Both strategies have merits. Most businesses would do well to incorporate the best of both methods. Thus, they can consider the strategy to be an investment in their reputation.
There is not one strategy that offers the key to becoming a hit online. Whether you buy or build, both strategies require a proactive approach to reputation management.
Everyone dreams of growing their business organically. Word of mouth is, after all, one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. There are also a lot of benefits to reaching the right customers organically.
One of the biggest advantages is that you can control your rate of growth. As a result, you are in control of your own narrative. When you can remain in control of your story and your growth, you can grow at a pace that you are comfortable at.
This is ideal for startups. Moving at a controlled pace is ideal for those who may not be ready for the huge influx of customers that can result from inorganic growth.
But growing organically has some disadvantages. You may find that there are huge swaths of your potential market that you cannot reach. You may actually need to make the the most of certain paid online resources to reach all your customers. Not using these resources can limit your reach dramatically.
Building your also reputation also means that you will be put at a disadvantage. Your startup may have the best product. But if you are drowned out by those who throw huge amounts of money into buying their reputation, it will be hard to see any growth.
Building slowly can also be a disadvantage because when you're starting out, it is imperative to get products out to customers as soon as possible. When you're trying to build your reputation, it can be a struggle to keep your cash flow positive. In some cases, building your online reputation is not an option because you will have bills to pay.
Buying Your Reputation
Buying your reputation may sound negative. But in reality, every business does it. Creating valuable content, launching targeted ads and optimizing your SEO all cost money. In fact, getting your name out there costs money in general. Spending money does not cheapen the process-it often expedites it.
When you buy your online reputation, you are getting your name in front of a lot more people a whole lot faster, like using a cell phone booster. This will usually correlate with an increase in sales. These sales ideally turn into positive revenue. As a startup, you have a certain amount of debt. This quick cash can be a lifesaver when the bank comes calling for a return on a loan.
Stronger initial sales may also help you qualify for better access to credit lines and small business loans. A stronger visibility online will also help you entice investors who might once have been wary of your company.
But buying your reputation should come with a warning label. Remember that if you find yourself reaching Internet fame before you are ready, you can crash and burn as quickly as you rose to stardom. Everyone should have a contingency plan in the event that the company or product goes viral.
You can also lose control of your narrative when your reputation and visibility grow too quickly. The Internet is your most valuable asset as a startup but it is also your biggest threat. There may be things that inexplicable and cannot be predicted that can bring you down.
For example, if an activist group digs up information about your product that they don't agree with, they can use this to damage your reputation.
This damage is real. If you have grown too fast, you are not likely to have enough defenders to save your customer base.
You should also avoid buying too much of your reputation. Buying thousands of Facebook followers is easy and inexpensive. But these fake followers will not engage with your business. They will not like your posts. They will not search for you on Google. Plus, those who find you organically will find your reputation transparent. It is obvious when companies buy their likes. This can put real customers off.
Buying and Building Proactively
Both buying and building your online reputation have pros and cons. Which one you choose will often depend on how quickly you need to become profitable. Whether you choose to buy or build or a combination of the two, you must make sure that you make your strategy proactive and engage with your customers! After all, that is what you are online to do.
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