Maintaining and improving your company’s reputation is vital to a successful marketing strategy, in part because building your reputation goes hand in hand with generating brand awareness. For example, if a review is published casting your business in a negative light, you’ll undoubtedly create awareness for your brand as a result, although it will hurt your reputation. Fortunately, the reverse rings true as well. Finding ways to improve your reputation can also help positively increase awareness of your company.
Your company’s reputation is a critical part of your brand identity, and you should consider reputation management a key component of your company’s marketing efforts.
The Importance Of Maintaining A Positive Reputation Online
Bad reviews, whether they were written by previous customers or by professional reviewers within your industry, are going to show up in search results for your company name. This means that if a potential customer didn’t know who you were before their search, they would have a negative first impression of you that may tank any chance you had of capturing them as a lead. It’s not just reviews that will show up in search results either — any press that your company has had in the past, both good and bad, will show up. If negative results are showing up in user search queries, it will significantly damage your ability to generate organic traffic to your site.
Digital vigilance is the act of monitoring your online reputation so that you can identify issues that could potentially harm your reputation (or contribute to a poor impression of your brand) and address them right away. It’s an essential facet of reputation management since the faster you can address specific issues, the quicker they’ll be resolved.
For example, if a customer has posted a public complaint about their experience, working with that customer to improve their experience can not only keep the issue from growing into a severe PR problem but potentially reverse the effect it has. If you successfully address a problem and improve a customer’s experience, it could enhance your reputation because it shows that you care. It also showcases the effort you took to make things right. Such actions can help to boost brand trust as well.
Employ these digital vigilance practices to monitor your reputation effectively:
There are countless online review directories, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, TrustRadius, and more, that allow users to post reviews for businesses. Some directories are even industry-specific. Reviews can also be posted on social channels, such as Google and Facebook. Monitor these reviews in case anyone leaves negative feedback, and respond appropriately to try and resolve the issue. You mustn’t get defensive or aggressive, as this will only hurt your reputation further.
Routinely check the SERPs (search engine results pages) on Google for your company name. Articles published on significant websites will likely show up, which means that this is an excellent way to see if there have been any negative reviews or mentions from professional publications or websites.
Although monitoring SERPs is essential to track the overall reputation of your company and to identify significant issues that could affect your reputation, also track any mentions of your business in general. Even a less popular blog post that mentions you in a negative light could hurt your reputation. Fortunately, it’s not as challenging to monitor mentions of your business as you might think. Simply use Google Alerts by setting it up to notify you whenever new content is published using specific keywords, such as the name of your business.
Using a sentiment analysis tool, you can track the general tone and context in which your brand was mentioned in conversations online. This is particularly helpful since it can be difficult to identify whether brand mentions are in a positive or negative light through online conversations (such as discussions in forums or social media groups). Using sentiment analysis, you can break down whether existing conversations are positive, negative, or neutral.
One of the most effective ways to prevent negative mentions, whether they occur through reviews or on social media, is to be proactive. Asking customers for feedback will often keep them from taking their negative experience public. One of the reasons many customers post negative feedback in a public forum is because they feel that this is the only way that their voice will be heard. If you engage them directly for feedback and act on it, it will make them feel like you care and help to improve their experience, perhaps even salvaging it. Paying attention to feedback can help you solve issues that could have hurt your reputation in the future.
Do not let negative comments, reviews, or articles linger. Address them immediately if you can resolve the problem quickly, and customers may update their opinions in response to a successful interaction. If materials are published that are generating significant negative publicity, then the sooner you address it, the better. This can occur with an official statement or press release.
You cannot assume that your reputation will remain pristine forever, no matter how much effort you put into managing your reputation. Incidents that could hurt your reputation may occur at any point in time. How you deal with those incidents will affect how they impact your reputation over the long run. Because of this, you need to have an incident management plan in place.
The quicker and more effectively you can deal with incidents, the more capable you’ll be of salvaging your positive reputation. Here are some of the essential steps that you should be prepared to take should a negative incident arise:
Before taking action to address an incident, first, understand what exactly happened and assess the damage. Many companies are too quick to try and defend themselves without knowing the full extent of what happened. If the incident involved a customer, put yourself in their shoes, and try to understand their point of view. This will make resolving the incident much more manageable. For more serious incidents, such as if someone in a leadership position at your company has gotten into trouble posting something online, gather as much information as possible before deciding on an appropriate course of action.
After you assess the situation, then create a plan of action. Never take action without a plan in place. Once you do have a plan for tackling an incident, make sure that everyone throughout your organization is aware of the plan and that they will know what their responsibilities are. For very public incidents, make sure everyone knows what to say and what not to say to prevent the incident from being further exacerbated.
If the incident was, in fact, the fault of your company, then you should take responsibility. It’s not good PR when a business tries to lay the blame elsewhere (especially if it’s on the customer). Taking responsibility is viewed as an honest and transparent move that can help mitigate the potential damage caused to your reputation.
Although you shouldn’t take action without a plan, you should try to address the incident as quickly as possible. The longer you take to address it, the more attention it’s likely to garner, and the worse it’s going to look. Being proactive is essential to reputation management in general.
Take what you’ve learned from the incident and implement measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Not only can you prevent another fallout from another similar incident, but showing the public that you’re taking steps to prevent another incident will help you regain your good standing in the public eye.
Social Media Reputation Management
Social media is one of the best ways to manage your reputation because it allows you to engage with your audience publicly. The way that you engage will help to mold the impression that your audience has of you. With that in mind, consider these ways that you can improve and manage your reputation on social media:
There are numerous tools that monitor social media for mentions of your company. Using such tools will make it easier to address criticism or join discussions that are relevant to your brand. This is also an excellent place to use sentiment analysis tools to get an idea of the overall sentiment that people on social media have about your brand.
There are plenty of ways to engage with followers in a meaningful way to help improve your reputation. Posting helpful content that you create or that’s available on other websites can help bolster your authority. Addressing any comments left on your page by followers helps encourage further engagement. Asking your followers questions can help to encourage followers to share their opinions or feedback. The more you engage, the more your audience will relate to you on a personal level.
If someone leaves a negative comment or review on your social page, address them as soon as possible in a friendly way. Even if they are aggressive for no reason, by publicly trying to resolve the issue, you will only help bolster your reputation as a brand that works to make things right wherever possible.
It doesn’t have to be all about you. You can engage with people in forums and groups that are having discussions that are relevant to your company or industry that aren’t directly about your brand. This is a great way to add value to their conversations and to position yourself as an authority on whatever subject is being discussed. This can leave a good impression on people participating in the discussion.
Ways To Establish A Positive Reputation Online
The most effective way to combat a negative reputation is by building a positive one. There are many ways that you can foster a positive reputation among your audience online. By creating a positive reputation, you’ll also foster a lot of goodwill, which can be incredibly useful when it comes to dealing with incidents that could reflect poorly on your company. Use these suggestions to establish and maintain a positive online reputation:
Not only does excellent customer service help to improve the customer experience, it can help prevent issues caused by misunderstandings from coming up. There are plenty of ways that you can provide excellent customer service. For example, make your customer support team available across multiple communication channels for the convenience of your customers. Address questions, concerns, and complaints in a timely and respectful manner. Train your customer service team to be friendly and helpful, and implement chatbots to provide support 24/7, just to name a few.
Creating and publishing high-quality content that is helpful and relevant to your audience will help to build your brand authority. As you increase your brand authority, you will increase your brand trust, which will have a positive impact on your company’s reputation.
Transparency is essential to the trust you build in your brand. A lack of trust can hurt your reputation. Being transparent means clearly communicating your company’s goals, being honest about your products and services, only using ethical marketing and sales tactics, and addressing negative reviews or comments instead of deleting them. Never remove negative mentions. Someone will always be able to recover them, which will only show the public that you tried to hide them. Cover-ups can significantly damage the trust people had in your brand.
When people engage with you, whether it’s through social media, through an online chat feature, or the comments on a blog post, always reply in a timely and polite fashion. This goes for both positive and negative feedback or comments. After all, not only do you want to address negative comments to prevent a negative reputation, but you want to encourage people who leave positive feedback as well since this helps foster a positive reputation.
When you avoid criticism, whether it’s a bad review or a negative comment on one of your social channels, you effectively tell the world that you don’t care about who had anything negative or critical to say. This will leave the impression that you don’t care about the customer experience and that you’re above the idea that you could improve your company in any way. In fact, not addressing criticism can hurt your reputation more than the criticism itself.
Take note of the mistakes that you made and make sure that you learn from them. Take measures to ensure you don’t make them again and learn from past experiences how to deal with any future mistakes.
Reputation Management Is Essential To Your Online Success
Your company’s online reputation will always follow you around since everything is indexed and essentially permanent. It’s why reputation management is so critical to your online success. While reputation management does involve taking measures to prevent your company from earning a poor reputation, it also means taking steps to foster an excellent reputation proactively.