Having only just a website to represent you online and nothing more can put you in a dangerous position. Why? Anyone can create negative comments about your brand on social media sites, or post some bad reviews on forums online which would then rank on search engine results, and be displayed for customers to see whenever they search for you. Imagine the horror of that scenario. Reputation management is greater than what it seems to be, for it can make or break your business in a very short span of time.
For others, reputation management might somehow equate to damage control. Why control damage when you can prevent it in the very first place? What you can do now is to think forward and proactively develop your online reputation before somebody else does—in a negative way. It really is an investment for your own good because after all, reputation management is not only about redeeming your brand from negative situations, it’s also about establishing your brand’s presence and highlighting its strength and positives. Here are some tips on how you could manage your presence and reputation online.
1. Create your presence on all available avenues online.
Your business website is not enough for your online presence. Make sure that you create your profiles consistently on all social media sites, from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and all other industry-specific social channels. You should also be present on Youtube or Vimeo should you have any videos to promote. And these should not be just “I’ll-post-when-I-have-the-time” type of thing. It should be done on a periodic basis, with a set content strategy that is aimed towards reaching your goal. It shouldn’t be purely advertising; it could be something like posting helpful content, quotes, or sharing some facts that are all related to what you are offering. You can even encourage your customers and your employees to share their positive experiences with your company online to encourage more interaction. The key is to build a community of believers in your brand.
With the right content strategy, you can build up your brand’s influence, as well as consumer interest and engagement. Your posts will be a reflection of your brand, and expect that people would somehow react. Make it a point to be active and always ready with a quick, professional response. Let longer conversations be in a private message, and not exposed to public.
2. Create a distinct social media presence for the personalities associated with the business.
The founders and top management play a significant role in being associated with the brand. It is crucial to build a strong and positive profile for these individuals, and clearly show the relation between them and the brand. Most especially for businesses owned by “titled” individuals such as doctors, lawyers, or accountants (to name a few), in this case, people are searching for the names of these professionals. Yes, the concept might be like having their own CV exposed online, but that is the point—to sell their product or service based on what they can offer through their background and experience.
Blogging is not just for SEO. It’s about asserting your brand as an authority on something. It’s all about your brand’s views, showcasing your offerings and specialisations, and provides a solid ground for you to take a stand, most especially needed if you want to prove a point when there are major statements about your company.
4. Listen to your audience.
Take the time to really pay attention and take note of what your customers want. You can determine those not only on your social media pages but on the pages of the competitors as well. What are they raving and complaining about? This can serve as your guide to veer away from what they would find annoying.
Another thing is that it clues you in on what they really think of you. Are they complaining for your shoddy customer service? Your inferior product perhaps? It could be true that the “customer is always right” so do give it some thought and try to act accordingly based on the negative comments. Appease your customers without creating any friction. Never be tempted to create online arguments, which is a sure-fire way to do more damage than good.
5. Learn to apologise.
And if you finally realised that you have indeed let your customers down, please do not hesitate to apologise sincerely. Being transparent and owning up to your company’s mistakes and shortcomings can end the critical situation, as long as you make a genuinely unconditional apology. And believe that they would know if you’re just messing around.
Managing a brand’s online reputation is not an option, it’s a necessity in today’s digital age. Any business should never hesitate to invest time and money in developing their online reputation. If you feel unsure though on how to work your way around your audience, or if the damage has been done and you are finding it challenging to recover, it wouldn’t hurt to entrust your brand to reputation management specialists who can take care of the mess and put you back up in the game. After all, it’s better to invest on them than lose the business completely because of mishandled issues.