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Managing Your Online Business Reputation: What to Know

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January 15, 2021

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Just a decade ago, a business reputation might have been handled by a public relations company. However, nowadays, an online business reputation is usually handled in-house or through outsourcing to a specialized online business reputation management company. In addition, every sized business needs to be aware and proactive about managing their business reputation online. It's no longer just a concern for larger corporations.

With almost every company doing business online, it's more important than ever to learn everything you can about managing your online business reputation. Following is everything that you need to keep in mind about effective online reputation management in today's world.

What does Online Reputation Management Consist Of?

Online reputation management includes a wide variety of concerns and action steps. It includes things like monitoring online chatter about the company, responding to customer comments, questions and concerns, and implementing strategies that will promote a company with a positive outward-facing brand in order to enhance the company's reputation.

The Facets of Online Reputation Management

There are many facets of online reputation management. Each of them must be maintained simultaneously. This is why many companies choose to outsource their online reputation management to an expert company. Here are the facets that must be considered with comprehensive online reputation management:

Publicity

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This includes things like media outreach, media relations, investor relations if there are investors in the company and relationships with influencers and bloggers. Publicity might take the form of print ads, event appearances and radio interviews.

Partnerships

Partnerships include things like tie-ins with charities, community outreach projects and co-branding with other companies that are not competitors but that can help with a company’s online business reputation. For example, a mattress company might partner with a bed sheet maker or a juice maker might partner with a company that makes blenders.

Social Media

The social media factor of online business reputation management includes all the social media platforms that are most popular today, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, TickTock, YouTube, etc.. Since it's nearly impossible for a company to be active on all the social media platforms at once, hiring an outside online reputation management company is almost essential.

Content Creation

Contact creation ties in with online business reputation management because it is a great way to leverage positive messages about the company and also to influence the public perception. Contact creation can take place in-house or it can be outsourced to an online reputation management company. The content could include things like information about what's going on in the company, current reviews, webinars, videos, podcasts, customer testimonials and stories and behind-the-scenes information about employees and management.

Paid Media

Paid media includes things like Facebook advertisements, Facebook sponsored posts, Twitter cards, sponsored tweets and more. These are all effective at influencing the company’s online business reputation. The downside is that paid media can add up very quickly and eat heavily into a company’s marketing budget.

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Each of these facets of online reputation management offer a company ways to positively influence their online reputation and for the public to react in a negative or positive way. This is where the practice of managing the online business reputation really comes into play.

Managing Your Online Business Reputation

When it comes to managing your company’s online reputation, you or your reputation management company needs to be doing the following steps on a consistent basis:

Regular Audits of the Online Business Reputation

You should come up with metrics to measure your online reputation. Regular audits should be performed. You will need to thoroughly review what the public is saying about your company, determining how the public views your brand and, finally, figuring out what challenges you need to face and how to overcome them.

Monitoring the Brand

Brand monitoring is another step that needs to be done. This is the part where you find out what the brand is saying to the public. Brand monitoring needs to continue throughout the online business reputation project.

Strategizing Online Business Reputation Management

A strategy needs to be developed to manage the online business reputation. This will include things like setting up specific goals, defining what kinds of resources you have to use for your online business reputation management, figuring out where you will focus the bulk of your attention as far as the various facets of online business reputation management and, finally, prioritizing the tasks that are involved. As you can see, the strategy development is very complex and will take some time to complete. This is why a lot of companies choose to outsource their online business reputation management.

Determining the Tone

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Whether you do your own online business reputation management or outsource it, you will need to determine the tone of voice of your customer responses. The tone of voice will coincide with your brand. For instance, if your brand is more lighthearted and humorous, then your postings can mimic that tone of voice, as can your paid media advertisements.

Policies and Guidelines

Finally, you will need to come up with policies and guidelines; usually by the company’s executive management team. Everyone who is involved in implementing the strategy will adhere to the policies and guidelines set forth by your executive team. This will also help protect you against lawsuits and other problems with how the online business reputation management is handled, particularly with regard to negative reviews.

Handling Negative Reviews

Every business experience gets negative reviews at one time or another. There is no way to please every single member of the public all the time. No matter what you're selling, whether it's a product or service, there will be people who find something bad to say about it. The important thing to remember is that negative reviews can be handled. And, remember that all negative reviews aren't bad. There is a belief that there’s no such thing as bad press. Of course, it's very important that negative reviews are taken care of in the proper way. Here is how to handle negative reviews.

Don’t React Hastily

When you read something negative about your company, you may have a knee-jerk reaction and want to respond as fast as possible. However, it's really never good to overreact or be impulsive. What do you really want to do is to think about things; typically overnight. This will give you a calm head so that the negative review can be responded to objectively and clearly, without emotion.

See the Other Side

When responding, always see the other side. The first thing that you should say in any kind of response to a negative review is, I understand, or we understand. This lets the public know that you are listening to their concerns. Even if the negative review is a completely undeserved rant about the company, you need to be perceived as a company that is willing to listen to anyone.

Don’t Place Blame

Another thing to remember when responding to negative reviews is to remember that you should never blame the customer. For example, you should never say that the reason why they are dissatisfied with your product or service it's because they didn't use it right. Never blame the customer.

Keep Public Responses General

You don’t want to get into a nitty gritty back and forth with the customer. Instead, keep your responses very general. The place for dedicated customer service is in a private email correspondence or over the phone, not on a public forum. Respond to the customer in public, but deal with the problem directly in private.

Make Sure to Offer to Solve the Problem

Everyone likes to see that a company stands behind their brand. If you have a customer who is complaining about your product or service, make sure that you offer to solve the problem, whatever it is. This will make people have more trust in buying your product in the future. Everyone who reads the negative review will see how are you responding when faced with a unsatisfied customer.

Stay Objective

The tone of voice for all of your customer responses should be very objective. Don't use emotional language or emotional punctuation such as exclamation marks. High emotions can always be interpreted wrong way when read by the public and you don't want it to look like you are overly upset about a negative review.

Follow Up

Finally, you always want to follow up with customers who left a negative review. This is especially the case when you have gone out of your way to try to rectify the situation. When you follow up, you can ask the customer to update their review or their comment. Now that you have not only taking care of the problem, but that you have made sure that the customer is satisfied, going forward.

A positive online business reputation is essential for any business that wants to be successful in the long term. If you would like assistance with your online business reputation management, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.

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