Your online reputation is now an important factor in the success of your brand or business. A survey found that 86% of people will think twice before deciding upon purchasing or using a service from a business that has negative reviews online. Another survey found that almost 92% of people will look to their peers when deciding upon purchasing a product or using a service. This refers to both online reviews and word of mouth, which ties into your online reputation.

As with any major business decision it is best to plan it out and have a strategy in place. Below is a quick how to get your online reputation management strategy up and running. There are five basic steps which we have outlined below.

The first step is to identify your current reputation. Look up your brand on search engines like Bing, Yahoo and the big one, Google. Take a look at social media such as Facebook and Twitter which are the major ones today. Search around some message forums and blogs if you can find any that mention your brand.

Once you have found out what your current reputation is, the next step is to make note of where changes have to be made. If your reputation is fine the way it is, then you should ask yourself, how do I stay on top of my existing reputation and prevent future scandals? A good word of advice is to have a Reputation Defender review monitoring and start tackling the major issues first and then work downwards to address the less visible issues affecting your brand’s reputation on the web.

The third step, after you have identified where changes should made to your online presence, is to develop a strategy for building up your online reputation. This includes figuring out which strategy is best at meeting your needs. Ask yourself what will work best in your situation? Is it focusing on social media? Will it be creating blogs and responding to reviews on the web?

One you have come up with the strategy it is time to actually implement the strategy that you have created in the step before. This is step four, and it should incorporate all of the research and solutions you have come up with in the previous four steps. Go ahead and built that content that you feel will boost you reputation the most.

The last step is integration and being proactive. Consider combining your online reputation management strategy with customer service, public relations or marketing. Update your content regularly and think about ways to boost your reputation and how to prevent problems from popping up in the first place. This is what proactive thinking is all about.