Protecting Your Online Reputation...

By Andrew Groves

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How many of you make buying decisions based on online reviews? I regularly do and it forms a large part of the decision making process for me; in fact I have NOT bought from certain online stores based on the reviews of the user experience. 

Typically when you have a significant need or want and have come to a decision about that need or want you head online to check out sources of information and of course prices. The decision making process from reading reviews to purchasing is typically a short one and as such it is critical that businesses have a strong online reputation in order to turn “searchers” into “customers”.

Intriguing Recent Survey Results

A recent survey highlighted that consumers now base buying decisions on far fewer reviews than they did 2 years ago with the average buyer now reading about 6-7 reviews.

The survey also highlighted:

  • 73% of consumers trust online reviews; up from 58% in 2012
  • 12% of consumers ignore online reviews; down from 17% in 2012
  • 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 16-34 year olds place more emphasis on online reviews than those over 55

Now if we think about the companies that we work/recruit for it’s hard to argue that the same “consumer” process won’t be followed by job seekers. The recent arrival of Glassdoor in the UK makes this ever more pertinent as it gives disgruntled employees and leavers an outlet for frustrations and in some cases what they see as revenge if they consider they have been treated badly.

Glassdoor: A Wake-Up Call For Companies

Glassdoor was launched in the US in 2008 and a few months ago they opened their London office. The site is a real wake-up call for companies and in-house recruitment teams as there is no hiding from it. If your company has a bad reputation it won’t be long before everyone knows about it. The question is what to do about it? The initial reaction from most people is to rush to flood the site with positive reviews of the company in order to counteract the negative ones. This reaction has some merit and can be a sensible approach; however these reviews need to be “real” and not coerced as you simply can’t manufacture a company culture or image, the power of social media means you’ll soon be found out.

  • In 2013 more than 500 000 reviews were submitted to Glassdoor.
  • It is, at the time of writing, ranked as the 401st most visited site in the US & 1000th most visited in the UK.
  • The majority of traffic, 72%, comes from search engines with about 20% direct to the site.
  • Facebook provides the vast majority of their social media traffic at 75%.

Glassdoor has 3 main measures of a company.

  • Overall rating (out of 5)
  • CEO rating as a %age
  • “Recommend to a Friend” as a %

The site also carries company comparisons of benefits info, salary info, interview reviews, management and leadership.

A large part of the power of Glassdoor comes from the fact all reviews are anonymous, meaning that people will feel empowered to tell the truth with no detrimental effects to themselves. When you factor in that more people will visit the site to moan or vent their frustrations than they will to tell you how excellent you are, you can see what a detrimental effect there could be to your employer brand. With this in mind I recommend fully embracing Glassdoor and building your presence on it by buying the enhanced profile and ensuring you have compelling content. With careful mngt you can use the site to address issues and respond to reviews. Well positioned responses are very powerful especially if you get buy-in from your CEO or Senior Managers and use them to reply to reviews; and not just the bad ones  as seeing a “thank-you, I am really happy that you enjoy working here, we take our company culture and values very seriously…” style response to a positive review is an extremely powerful brand builder and arguably just as important as addressing the negative comments.

The great thing about Glassdoor is that your senior directors can’t hide from it, if you are continually getting bad reviews and obvious themes begin to emerge then you have a ready-made case to present to your board, especially if it supports growing turnover or an inability to attract top talent and ultimately an impact on business performance.

Glassdoor isn’t going away and the fact that  72% of the sites traffic comes from Google means that there is no hiding from it. We would be naïve to think that it’s importance will do anything but grow so don’t ignore it or laugh it off as you will pay the consequences. I’d would go directly to your companies profile (now) and check out what people are saying about you as you need to have a strategy in place for dealing with Glassdoor and the sooner the better.


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