Successful reputation management requires online business owners to be aware and involved in what’s being said about their business online. But are you aware of what’s being said about your online business? I would argue that most newbie’s don’t know what’s being said but you can bet the most successful internet marketers do. To fully protect your online business reputation, it’s important to have a review procedure in place, such as performing a regular search for your online business name on various search engines, social media sites, and user review web sites. Make sure to search by business name, category, business owners and members of the company. But is this enough? With the increasing number of gathering sites coming into play everyday, both negative and positive comments and reviews instantly flood the web, social media sites, and mobile phone communities, and ends up in the hands of the consumer. While this can start some excitement when finding a new online shopping site, it can also serve as a way to relese frustrations or disappointment that you’ve had with an online shopping experience gone bad and although this new level of accessibility is great for consumers, often business owners feel the at a loss when it comes to a negative review or comment, being that they have no way to defend their business reputation. Imagine this…Not living up to your consumers expectations; customer service, price, etc. an unhappy consumer writes a bad review of your business on your favorite online shopping review site. The unhappy consumer has just formed a connection with like-minded/prospective customers and it’s a proven fact that people are strongly influenced by business ratings, scores and consumer comments. What we read on these sites can definitely influence our decision to do business with this online shopping site or choose another that doesn’t have any negative reviews.But it doesn’t stop there…this consumer’s review is then picked up by the other related web sites, search engines, social media sites and web services offering aggregated consumer reviews and the information floods the internet.Freedom of speech is one of the greatest rights we have and everyone is entitled to their own opinion but what about the voice of the online business owner? How can he or she tell the other side of the story or clarify inaccurate or unfair statements?Better yet how can online business owners harness this to their benefit? Here are a few suggestions. Use the same web sites to speak out to your customers. Listen to what is being said and carefully consider whether a response is appropriate. A lot of user reviews or social media blogs have a following or are part of a community and that community can feel threatened if an outside voice appears defensive. When trying to correct an inaccurate statement, think about responding by first thanking the reviewer for the feedback, and then make them an offer or give a response that shows you are taking action and will do what it takes to regain the consumers trust. Remember, people that take the time to post their review of a business want to be seen and heard. To build a stronger relationship with the consumer, you need to validate their voice. When you do this you build a stronger relationship and hopefully as a result, they will be try you again and write positive review the next time.When it’s not possible to alleviate a bad review or if you’re not able to join a blog or discussion, you can still treat the situation as a free focus group with feedback. Consider the feedback and use it to help find ways to improve the business. You’ll be amazed at the insight that is out there and how you can fold that into your online business strategy and internet marketing efforts.The biggest problem in business is an unknown one; consider feedback you receive as a way for your business to become better and to ultimately become the online business that people to talk about-in a positive way.