Conversely, it doesn’t take much to ruin the good opinion of others you’ve so carefully cultivated. Sometimes, just one bad review or even a single tweet can change everything, especially if you’re a small organisation without a dedicated PR team.
The ubiquity of the internet has also made reputation management trickier than ever. The internet is, after all, a vast network that transmits ideas and information all over the world at dizzying speeds. It’s also filled with highly reactive users—people who won’t hesitate to share and comment as loudly as possible on whatever strikes their fancy.
Given these conditions, it can be daunting to even look up what other people are saying about your brand online. If you’ve got no idea where to even begin, don’t despair. We’ve broken down some simple steps you can follow to increase brand awareness online, secure customer loyalty, and keep your business in everyone’s good graces for years to come.
Have a Reputation Management Plan
The first and most crucial step for good online reputation management is to make a plan. That said, don’t just jump in by making accounts on ten different review sites. Begin by evaluating your company’s current online image, as well as those of your competitors. How do your peers in the industry behave on social media? What sort of personality do they project? Which review sites do they favour, and how do your scores on those sites compare?
Once you’ve gathered this information, it’s time to decide on what goals you want your online presence to achieve. In general, it’s best to make these goals as specific and concrete as you can. You could aim for a specific number of followers or five-star reviews, for example, by a certain date.
Maintain an Active Social Media Presence
Don’t be one of those organisations with empty accounts just gathering dust on every major social media platform. Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with others, so be sure to use it to your advantage. Dedicate time (and, if you can, personnel) to updating your accounts regularly in order to grow your audience and enhance your online presence.
For instance, you might utilise social networks to share your company’s recent achievements, promote your latest products or services, or interact with current and potential clients. You can even respond to and resolve customer complaints and other issues via your social media accounts. This demonstrates that you’re on the ball when it comes to addressing concerns about your company.
Monitor Your Mentions
You want to know what people are saying about your brand—everything from endorsements to products they’d like to see to customer experiences. At the very minimum, this means staying on top of your social media notifications so you don’t miss any tagged mentions of your company. There’s also plenty of free tools online that will help you easily monitor untagged mentions on most major social networks and even in Google search results.
More often than not, you’ll be able to set your chosen tool up to notify you by email when someone mentions a certain keyword, like your company name or catchphrase. From there, you can expect to receive a daily or weekly summary consolidating all mentions of that keyword for you to peruse.
Respond to Reviews
Do reply to most, if not all, reviews you receive—no matter what platform you find them on, and no matter the content of the review itself. Your response can range from a simple thank you for a five-star rating to a detailed rundown of suggestions for how a customer might use your product.
The bottom line is that responding proactively to your reviews sends the message that your company values customers’ feedback. This proactivity, in turn, will inspire trust in your customers and encourage them to come back to you in the future. Potential clients checking you out on review sites will also readily be able to observe your responses and will hopefully think better of you for putting in the work.
Approach Negative Press Constructively
In the unfortunate event that you encounter negative feedback about your company online, avoid taking a confrontational approach. Engaging in arguments with your customer base will make you appear unprofessional and can ultimately hurt your reputation. Likewise, don’t attempt to censor or discredit these opinions. Don’t ignore them, either, in the hopes that they’ll eventually disappear.
Instead, make it a point to respond to the concerned parties as courteously and empathetically as possible. Communicate that you understand the issue, and provide a concrete plan for addressing the complaint. When dealing directly with a customer, it may sometimes be appropriate to make amends by offering them a discount or a complimentary item on their next purchase. Demonstrating your accountability in this way may just encourage your critics to give you another chance and allow you to keep their patronage in the long run.
Preserving your company’s good name on the internet is a continuous process that you’ll undoubtedly be working at for as long as your business is up and running. Given this, it’s wise to invest what resources you can in effective reputation management. Take a course, call in the help of an expert, or dedicate specific personnel to monitoring and maintaining your reputation online. In the long run, you’ll save yourself and your co-workers a lot of headaches, and you may just reap even greater profits, too.