5 mistakes to avoid with reputation managementFigures rule the world, but information runs it.

To get ahead, you’ll need to stay on top of flowing information; accessing, analyzing, tweaking and disbursing it to the right channels at the right moment and in the right form. If this online reputation management practice sounds like too much work, then you probably didn’t know what else information can do apart from gaining you more sales and orders.

You certainly can’t run the risk of providing this kind of information to third-parties. Unfortunately, studies, including recent data provided by the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), show that more businesses unknowingly ��give out’ the information third parties need to do as they please.

Your online reputation management needs a boost if you have had to rethink your strategy, lost a competitive edge, or closed down shop as a result of corporate espionage. If any of the following sounds familiar in your case, you may want to re-strategize for your online reputation management sake. Here are the 5 mistakes to avoid when managing your digital brand.

  1. Not evaluating your cyber liability

Cyber liability describes the risks your business can run into over the World Wide Web. These include but are not limited to hacking, negative reviews, corporate espionage, etc.

Information about your business is a goldmine. From business partners, hackers, the press, stakeholders, to competitors, everyone wants a piece to read and understand your motives better and most likely to help them keep abreast your every move.

Some of the most sought after details include business secrets such as short and longer-term strategies, advertising modes, name and contacts of both new and return clients, employees’ identities, company emails and their use and other sensitive data that could help seekers get ahead of your business strategy.

  1. You don’t check your Digital marketing agency

A digital marketing agency is the online version of brick and mortar marketing and consultant firms. Technically, an advertising agency manages everything you do online, such as web development, website design, social media marketing, viral advertising and mobile apps development. At some point you’ll have to share intimate business details with your online marketer.

Unfortunately, more and more of these firms have been caught off-guard selling clients’ information to the latter’s competitors. Seek to know what your digital marketing agency is doing with your data and review their data protection policy keenly.

  1. You’ve left war against cybercrime to “others”

The National Small Business Association (NSBA) found out that most small businesses are not concerned about their online reputation management and what cybercrime has to do with it.

Unfortunately, a small business is most likely to be hit by a hacker attack, more than a large firm is. And about 60% of small businesses hacked wind down operations within a six-month timeframe. This happens mostly because as the NSBA report spells out, as information on customers leaks, your business will have to take responsibility. If clients decide to sue, then you can see how this affects your ability to do business.

  1. You haven’t asked the Experts

Managing your online reputation is a task that’s best handled by a professional?

Your own employees could be smearing mud on your business name. A past stubborn customer may be envious of your progress despite their exit and can decide to launch a propaganda campaign against you. Competitors are always happy to promote anything that gives them an edge over you—including majorly skewed reviews about your product or service, or a viral video that could hurt your brand.

A dedicated online reputation management service provider’s job is to track down repute-destroying information anywhere online and destroy it on your behalf. Online reputation management takes full-time engagement, dedication, specialized tools and software and advanced online knowledge.

  1. You want to save money

Saving cents does make sense. Alright, so you do have an IT department. Most small businesses don’t have one, primarily because running an IT department can be expensive to install and maintain—limited resources you could use to grow your business. But even if you do have an IT department, are your in-house creatives aware of avenues of managing an online brand?

Your IT guys will develop your website, kill bugs, build links to cloud storage platforms, backup data and create engaging mobile apps for customers. What your online brand protector will do, on the other hand, is ensure that these resources are not abused and used against you–probably by the very same IT department that created them.

Attacks—hacking, negative reviews, corporate espionage, etc—cost way too many small businesses grief and money than you’d use to pay an online reputation manager. Furthermore, you can establish parameters to measure online reputation management value and see whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

Your online reputation affects everything that you do. While the internet provides arguably the best marketing channel anywhere, it is a major risk not to be prepared for some of it’s risk factors. Third parties are increasingly on the radar for indulging in less than business-friendly practices without their victims—small businesses, mostly—knowing about it. Hopefully this features helps you avoid the 5 mistakes that businesses are making as far as online reputation management goes and help you protect your brand’s online presence.