There will be a lot of relieved Europeans as Google was mandated by the European Court of Justice to answer to its responsibility to manage reputation-damaging content among its search engine results based on the demands of concerned individuals. “The right to be forgotten,” as the European law requires, is certainly the direct solution to online reputation repair, which is becoming more relevant as one’s Google reputation increasingly influences an individual’s job marketability or business earning potential.
Any “right to be forgotten” may sound as flimsy as any fantasy memory potion, but the reputation management industry has been working towards that right for its clients for some time now. A priori, however, legal statutes weren’t in the brew. Online reputation clean-ups have so far been a mix of strategic SEO, quality content generation, and well-managed social media presence. These are all targeted and proven solutions that skirt other qualifying criteria before the right can be invoked. Criteria that decide, for instance, whether or not the reputation-damaging content serves public interest or not.
Businesses that have undeservedly suffered bad online reviews seem morally justified in trying to defend themselves. And reputation management allows them to do that without compromising the public’s interest in transparent consumer information derived from Google (and other search engine) queries. Thus far, the most just platform for both consumers and businesses is social media, which plays double duty in relaying firsthand what businesses have to say about themselves and giving consumers a democratic platform to react to this information.
It’s easy then to see where social media abuse for the sake of reputation management is rooted. While social media is an online reputation strategy, it also effectively holds up a mirror image back to businesses. If they stoop to incessantly flooding Facebook and Twitter feeds in the interest of bumping off unflattering Google search results, then the fair picture is that these businesses are nothing more than reputation-burdened outfits.
However, if they use social media as a channel for publishing, in a pace that follows a real marketing strategy and genuine responsiveness to customer concerns aired as comments or Tweets, then businesses have better chances of organically growing more positive reputations that will replace damaging ones. Social media reputation repair is distinguished from garden variety social media presence in that it recognizes the need to woo the Internet crowds all over again. There will be no other web reputation to fall back on than the one being created over the most interactive platforms. Here, party rules apply: Neither the wet blanket nor the rampaging drunk gets re-invited.