There’s an old saying that goes “what you don’t know, can’t hurt you,” and while that may be true in terms of gossip and organized crime, it’s definitely NOT true in business. In the age of the internet, it’s safe to assume that people are looking at and talking about your business all the time, and, good or bad, you need to know exactly what is being said.

The free and instant exchange of information that the internet provides can be a powerful tool if used correctly. But its easy accessibility means that anyone can post an online review that everyone else can readily find. In fact, Adweek reports that 81% of consumers will google a brand before making a purchase or signing up for a service, and 61% of consumers will read through online reviews before making a decision. That means that your online reputation is vital to your success-- ignoring it can lead to disastrous losses.

If you don’t know what your customers are saying about your brand or product, then there’s no way for you to be a participant in the conversation. You can’t elevate your customers’ experience, make necessary changes, or invest in the things that are working right if you don’t know what those things are. It’s like trying to follow a map you’ve never seen.

If you aren’t growing, changing and increasing brand awareness then eventually customers will walk away, finding another brand that offers a comparable product but with a better customer experience. The ultimate end? A lot of lost revenue and a reputation you may not be able to reinvent.

According to a study by Time Magazine, the brain prioritizes negative information over positive information. Meaning that once someone has seen a bad review or a negative post about your brand, it can be almost impossible to forget.

In today’s age, pleading ignorance just isn’t acceptable. The internet isn’t new, third-party reviewing platforms aren’t new, and Google is no longer an up-and-coming search engine. Being in the know is a must.

Regularly googling your company, and frequently checking third-party review websites like ConsumerAffairs are important ways to keep up to date with what is being said about your brand. These practices allow you to control the dialogue surrounding your business, addressing issues as they arise and increasing practices that work well. Engaging with consumers and being an active, vital part of the conversation is the fastest way to increase brand awareness and overall revenue.

If you’ve been running with the mantra that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, and ignoring your online reputation, then it’s time to make a change. Hop on to third-party websites, spend some time googling your brand and get a general sense of what is being said. Even more importantly, schedule a demo with ConsumerAffairs for Brands. Speak with a representative who will walk you through your profile page, and give you helpful tips on ways to enter and remain a part of the conversation.