It can take years to build a reputation and a few minutes to ruin it. In the age of social media networks, user-generated content (UGC) platforms, review websites, personal blogs, etc., both positive and negative opinions about a brand can travel far and wide within minutes like wildfire.
Regardless of whether you sell products and services online or operate through brick-and-mortar stores, it is important to manage your online reputation today. If you don’t, you may be in the position of sitting ducks.
A single blog post, video, or tweet can damage your business’s hard-earned reputation within a few days if you aren’t proactively managing your online reputation.
Here in this post, we will share with you our selection of 10 pro tips for successful online reputation management of your business. Read on.
1. Audit Your Business
A brand reputation audit is a must.
Before you start the legwork, be sure to do in-depth research on what’s out there about your business organization, properties, products, etc. on the web.
Check all of the first ten results for important search terms. You may also need to run searches on relevant review platforms.
Before you start cultivating a positive online presence with blogs, reviews, etc., you need to understand what you are up against and what’s already been said about you.
You can make lists of links that are positive, negative, or neutral to figure out which ones need to be elevated or improved.
2. Increase Your SERPs Coverage and Claim Your Space on the Internet
Your SEO team should aim to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs) for terms related to your company and brand. This is equivalent to fortifying a mansion against a possible attack.
Websites, blogs, social media profiles, etc. belonging to your business can buffer against potentially negative listings in the SERPs. When SEO is done right, you can succeed in pushing web pages critical of your brand beyond the 1st page.
Almost 75% of searchers never look at organic listings beyond the first page.
Besides gaining more visibility in the SERPs, it is equally important to create profiles for your business on all major social networks. You may also need to have a presence on platforms such as the Better Business Bureau.
Even if you do not intend to use or maintain these online properties right away, you’d still want to have complete control over them.
What if you decide to have an Instagram profile at some point in the future and learn that the username has already been taken?
Besides social media profiles, it is also a good idea to buy domain names that can be directly associated with your organization.
3. Protect the Reputation of Your Key Employees or Management Officials
In many industries, people don’t necessarily search for the services or products offered by a business organization. For instance, in case of a law firm, a hair salon, or a healthcare facility, people would be more interested in knowing who they will deal with instead of the organization itself.
Therefore, protecting the online reputation of your key employees, founders, co-owners, etc. should be a part of your overall online reputation management strategy.
Make sure your key employees and senior management officials maintain a strong social media presence. Keeping a low profile on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, whichever applicable depending on your line of business, does not work in the long run.
Many businesses keep a low profile or avoid social media altogether, hoping not to attract too much attention. This only makes it easier for others to ruin your employees’ (and your organization’s) reputation on the Internet with as little as one negative social media post.
When your key employee’s reputation is sullied, it will directly affect how people look at your business.
4. Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions to Bad Press
Many business owners are tempted to respond immediately when they are staring at a potential PR disaster. On such occasions, it’s advisable to take a step back and analyze the situation instead of giving knee-jerk reactions.
Yes, it is a good idea to make statements such as, “We’re aware of this,” or “We’re looking into it.”
But, it’s important that you do not react negatively, blame your competitors, or attack your detractors. Any sign of a meltdown in such a situation can fuel the negative sentiment against your business organization.
It is equally important not to make immature cover-up attempts or completely disregard bad press.
Before you respond, whether through a tweet, Facebook post, press release, an official video blog, or a press conference, gather as much information as possible. Have your PR team do it quickly and prepare for a well-calculated response.
5. Offer Good Service to Your Customers
Marketing is important, yes. But, quality is still the best thing a business organization can offer to its customers.
This is one of the best ways to get people to leave positive reviews and comments on the Internet.
Encourage your employees to behave and serve your customers in a manner that elicits positive responses.
6. Promptly Respond to Online Complaints of Customers
When your customers write about their grievances on Twitter or Facebook, for instance, be sure to reply promptly and politely.
A simple, “We are aware of this issue and are working on it. We will get back to you with more information,” is better than a delayed reply with tons of information.
7. Don’t Spare Illegitimate Attackers
There are occasions when you must take the bull by the horn. In the case of illegitimate attacks on your organization’s reputation, do not hesitate to initiate legal action.
If someone posts content that’s factually incorrect or a person intentionally indulges in illegal behavior that can damage your online reputation, go ahead and have an attorney deal with the problem.
Back in 2009, some employees of Domino’s Pizza posted videos in which they were playing with food, meant to be served to customers. The company initiated legal action against these employees and got them fired and arrested.
8. Use PPC Ads to Combat Bad PR
There are occasions when your business is in the news for the wrong reasons.
For instance, if a food company named ABC Inc. is drawing negative PR due to an isolated incident at one of their outlets in Chicago, it can buy PPC ads for search terms related to ‘ABC Inc Chicago’ and direct searchers to a page that tells its side of the story.
9. Generate and Respond to Customer Reviews Online
Did you know that nearly 91% of internet users read online reviews? Almost 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation from a family member, relative, friend, colleague, or neighbor.
Your happy customers or clients can be your brand ambassadors on the Internet.
So, be sure to encourage them to review your products or services on consumer-facing review platforms such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Foursquare, Better Business Bureau, etc.
While you are at it, implement the review schema, especially if you run an eCommerce portal.
There are various strategies to get your customers to write online reviews.
You can, for instance –
- Make it easy for customers to leave a review.
- Give customers an incentive for writing a review.
- Provide them with multiple options to choose from.
- Train your customer service representatives on how to encourage customers to leave a review online
- Use consumer satisfaction surveys to gather customer responses
- You should respond to each review whether it’s positive or negative.
Regardless of how great a product or service you are offering, there will be unhappy customers at some point in time.
When someone is critical of your brand or offerings, respond to their concerns as politely as possible. Ask yourself if their concerns are valid. If what they are complaining about is true, work hard, and try to address the problem.
If you have been at fault, it’s okay to admit your mistake and show that you are genuinely willing to make amends.
This way, many brands successfully redeem themselves even when they receive negative reviews or comments on social media networks.
Strictly avoid emotional responses when you respond to false or negative comments and reviews on the web. You need to maintain a professional outlook at all times.
10. Monitor Your Reputation
You can take necessary action only when you are aware of a problem.
Therefore, it is important to keep track of what people are saying about your business on the web.
You can set up Google Alerts or use tools such as Mention to holistically manage your brand reputation on the Internet.
Often, social media monitoring can also help you get more business. There are occasions when people are asking questions about your business on Facebook or Twitter. You can join in the conversion and respond to their questions.