Have you heard about the Penny Arcade/Paul Christoforo story? If not, take some time to read about it. It’s the perfect example of how the Internet and bad business practices can ruin your reputation, trust and credibility in an instant.

As a real estate investor, your online reputation is just as important as your offline one. Prospects may search for your business on Google, search for your name on LinkedIn or come across your PPC ads online. It’s important that all online paths leading to your business are positive.

Here are some things that can damage your reputation online, reducing trust and credibility in your business:

Never Monitoring What’s Being Said

The Internet is an amazing informational resource because anyone can add information online. But this freedom can bring big problems for businesses.

Imagine if a disgruntled partner created an online smear campaign. Or an angry ex-boyfriend or girlfriend decided to share negative and untrue stories about you personally. These things do happen – no one is immune.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by constantly monitoring your online reputation. Thankfully it’s easy to find information about yourself on the Internet. Periodically perform a search for your name and your REI business. Search in the following places:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

A daily or weekly Google Alert can help you find most mentions of you and your business.

If you find information that’s untrue, first contact the person who posted it and kindly ask them to remove it. If that doesn’t work, consider contacting an attorney as you may be protected under libel or slander laws.

 Neglecting Your Online Home(s)

One way to instantly create a negative online impression is by neglecting your “online homes.” By online homes I mean the following:

  • Your website
  • Your social media profiles
  • Your blog

Although neglecting them isn’t necessarily damaging to your reputation, it can do a lot to damage trust and credibility. Keep your “homes” cared for and updated to create a better impression for prospects.

Never Responding to Questions/Comments

If you’re online – blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and you are receiving questions and comments, you need to respond in a reasonable amount of time. If you have comments and questions just sitting there unanswered, you may appear to be less than helpful and out of touch with your audience. Don’t neglect those questions and comments. Always respond and apologize for delays.

It’s also a good idea to alert your fans and followers if you will “go silent” for a week or two. You don’t have share the specifics, but give them the heads up.

Your online presence and reputation is very important for the success of your REI business. Be vigilant and always aware of what you say and what is being said about you online. This will go a long way towards building and maintaining trust and credibility in your business.