As the internet expands and evolves into an increasingly dense and complex environment, your brand’s reputation becomes harder to protect. Now, your customers are tweeting, posting, and sharing every little thought they’ve ever had about you, and more people are paying attention to these thoughts than ever before. Reputation management can be the difference between harnessing the online environment to your advantage or crumbling at its mercy.
In this article, we’re looking at the most important things your online business needs to be doing to preserve it’s online presence and reduce the devastating threat of negative chit-chat. Let’s get right into it, starting with:
What exactly is reputation management and why does it matter?
Reputation management is about making sure your brand has an online presence that is as favourable as possible. From reviews left by past customers to press coverage, the main aim of reputation management is to ensure your target market perceives your brand the way you want them to.
Why’s it so important? Because whatever business you’re in, if you’re online, your customers will be talking about you – don’t you want them to be saying the right things? 82% of consumers admit to reading online reviews and 93% say that this “research” plays a huge role in swaying their final purchase decision. Only 9% of consumers say that they’ve never searched for businesses online.
You might have direct influence over what your company says to your audience, but your customers and all sorts of other stakeholders combine to have a much larger voice that could go sour at any minute. Ignore them completely and you’re essentially flying blind. Put the work into curating your brand’s reputation, and you tip the power of the online world in your favour. So, where do you start? Here are the best ways to get your reputation management strategy fired up.
Google yourself constantly
First things first, you need to get a grip on what’s being said out there about you and the easiest way to do that is to search for yourself. You can use Google Alerts to keep you informed of any content that’s published containing keywords of your choosing. Set up a set of alerts for your personal name, company name, the products you sell, and any common phrases or misspellings that might relate to your individual business. This will go a long way in keeping you up to date on when and why people are mentioning your brand online.
Monitor your social media presence
One of the first things people do when they fancy a rant is to pop their thoughts in a social post. You’ll need to keep a constant eye on what people are saying about your brand across all major platforms. Hootsuite allows you to set up a dashboard for monitoring comments and mentions of your brand on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Monitor comments on your own publications like a hawk
Nailed a few killer posts recently that have really built up some momentum? Or maybe you’re currently working on a series to be published in the near future? Either way, you comment game needs to be on point. Whenever someone mentions you in a comment related to a post, whether that post is by you or someone else, you need to be responding to people’s questions, feedback, or curiosities.
Most blogging platforms will keep you perfectly notified of comments placed on posts you’ve written yourself. But it can be a little more tricky monitoring comments left on third-party blogs. If you comment on someone else’s blog, you can then opt-in to stay updated whenever someone else comments on that post. You’ll need to make sure you place a comment on as many posts related to your business as you can to ensure you’re monitoring a wide web of places you’re most likely to be mentioned.
Track reviews fiercely
As we mentioned before, reviews are super important now. If you want great conversion rates, you need great reviews. The biggest review platforms include Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Angie’s List. You’ll need one eye on these continuously to see what people are saying about your products or services. Are people saying good things already? Create a page on your website to share all of your great reviews from these leading platforms in one place!
Here’s a handy collection of the best ways to tackle negative reviews:
Address negative situations carefully
Found some very unhappy folks? You need to act fast as timing does play a key role. Negative comments on the web are like fires on a farm – the entire barn can go up if you don’t react like lightning.
The best thing you can do is reply to negative reviews and comments, as opposed to trying to erase them. If you just delete bad comments on your blog, this’ll just enrage the aggrieved person even more and might anger some of your other followers who shared their thoughts. If it’s overly vulgar, you have an excuse to rub it out, but if someone is simply expressing a concern you should treat it as an opportunity to show how caring your brand is.
There’s nothing wrong with owning up to mistakes and doing what you can to fix them. Nobody likes excuses, everyone loves solutions. A negative situation can be converted into a highly positive one if your brand is seen handling it meaningfully.
A good example of this is the approach taken by Dell in 2006 when they had to recall 4 million laptops due to faulty battery systems. The brand used it’s blog to reassure customers that the problem was well understood and did what was necessary to fix the situation promptly. Instead of 4 million complaints, they created 4 million promises that when things go wrong, Dell has you covered.
These are the essentials! Reputation management may still sound like a bit of a buzzword to some, but in truth, it’s something that no online business can afford to ignore. Follow the tips above to make the best start in monitoring your presence and addressing small flames before they blow up into brand crushing wildfires.