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When you think of your company’s online reputation, you might first think about your social media presence. That’s important, but it’s only one part of reputation management basics.
More fully, reputation management speaks to how your brand is perceived by other people. It’s the control and improvement of that perception.
A comprehensive Reputation Audit provides invaluable insight into your company’s online reputation.
Today, most threats to your reputation come online. You need an effective online reputation management strategy to meet that challenge. That strategy helps you use digital channels to shape how people view your goods and services.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, people are talking about you. Whether you like it or not, they’ll continue to do so. They’re tweeting about you, posting on Instagram and Facebook and writing about you in blogs. They’re rating your company and its products on review sites.
And other people are reading these things. If folks are happy with you and your brand, those readers will know about it. If they’re unhappy, potential customers will know that, too.
More and more of today’s consumers research a brand online before they purchase. People are willing to pay more to buy from a company with good online reviews.
Your product may be at the head of its class in quality, but that’s not enough. The services you offer might be the best around, but that won’t ensure your success. In the online world, your product is only as good as people think it is.
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Potential customers pay attention to online reviews and social media posts. In their minds, anything you have to say is secondary. What other customers say comes first.
What can you do to ensure people speak highly of you and your offerings? Here are three facets of reputation management basics that you need to put into practice.
You can’t manage your online reputation unless you know what that reputation is. You can’t know unless you monitor. Other people are looking at what’s said about you, and you need to check it out as well.
You need to look everywhere someone might be writing about you. It might start with Facebook and Twitter but it certainly doesn’t end there.
Whether they’re positive or negative, true or false, social media posts spread like wildfire. People don’t stop to ask if they’re fair or if they’re accurate before they share them.
If something that concerns you is going viral, you need to know as soon as everyone else does. You should perform regular searches on all social media platforms. Don’t look at just the ones where you have an account.
People who shop online read product reviews. Hardly anyone buys on Amazon or eBay without considering what other shoppers say their experience has been.
Know about and respond to online reviews. It’s a keystone of reputation management basics.
In the pre-internet days, newspapers, magazines and TV could boost or harm your reputation. That hasn’t changed.
What has changed? Now folks share these sources far beyond their primary audience. People don’t have to subscribe to the newspaper or turn on the TV to learn what they say.
Anyone can be a blogger these days. It’s easy to get a site hosted and start telling the world whatever comes to mind.
For some bloggers, what comes to mind is the company they dealt with last week. If they had a good experience, they might share that. If the experience was bad, they won’t mince words in complaining about it.
This category includes not only the basement blogger blowing off steam. It also includes those who have some expertise in their fields and publish reviews.
If you’re a widget manufacturer, there might be a website called “This Year’s 5 Best and 5 Worst Widgets.” You need to audit to know where you stand on sites like this.
If you Google your company name and one of the page one results is a hate site, you have a problem. These sites might have names such as “The Truth about YourCompany” or “YourCompany Stinks.” They might include terms like “scam” and “ripoff” or words that are even less kind.
These “reputation bombs” are a threat to your business and need to be dealt with.
Pieces of your online reputation are all over the internet. You can assign an employee or two to sit at a computer and run searches. However, that’s neither efficient nor effective.
You can’t excel at good reputation management basics without monitoring tools. DIY tools such as Google Alerts and Ahrefs Alerts are of some value. It’s even better to consult a professional reputation management company and/or install a full-function monitoring tool.
If somebody posts something negative about your company, you should respond in most cases. However, you need to follow a few principles.
Sometimes the best response is no response. If you can’t fix the customer’s perception, and it’s a mildly negative remark, it may be best to let it go.
If you do respond, especially to a customer complaint, your reply should be prompt but not hasty. You don’t want to answer defensively or in anger.
Even if you can’t take care of the problem immediately, you should acknowledge it. Customers understand that not everything can be done right now. However, they want to know that you are listening and are working on it.
Tone is critical. A friendly answer to a tough complaint often wins people over.
Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. Let them know when they can expect to hear more.
Your level of response, if you respond at all, depends on the type of content and its impact.
Treat customer criticism as a learning opportunity. Even if you think the individual is unreasonable, others are likely to have the same opinion. Use feedback to get better.
Your reputation management basics shouldn’t be restricted to “putting out fires.” There are ways to boost your online reputation that have nothing to do with complaints and criticism.
While unfair online content certainly exists, companies tend to get the reputation they deserve. To be seen as good, be good.
Deal fairly with your customers, vendors and employees. Acknowledge weaknesses and criticisms.
Above all, don’t try to cover the truth. Everything you’ve ever said is out there somewhere.
If you try to bury a mistake, it will eventually come out. The backlash will create a bigger reputation problem than honest acknowledgment ever would have.
While you must respond to complaints and criticism, your reputation management basics shouldn't be focused on these things. They must be about how you position your brand positively online.
If you’re on social media, know why you’re there. Have a better reason than “because everyone else is.” The best reasons are to increase brand awareness, generate leads and drive sales. Specific goals help, such as a target percentage increase in responses on each social media platform.
Also, own your Google Search Engine Results Page. Use SEO techniques to ensure most of the results on SERP page one are yours. Don’t let someone else define what potential customers see when they Google you.
Invite customers to review you on the ratings sites. Ask for feedback directly. Even if the view is negative, you need to know about it.
Avoid dealing with criticism spontaneously as it arises. Decide in advance what you’ll do with negative online content. Determine which situations require a response. Have a template for doing so.
If you have monitoring in place, you’ll always know whether your online reputation is improving or declining.
Has your online reputation taken a hit? Call 844-810-6755 to polish that digital reputation and improve how you’re seen on the internet.
Reputation management basics matter. You can’t control your online reputation unless you know what that reputation is.
We do an in-depth audit of your online presence. We’ll help you deal with negative content and promote positive content. We’ll establish ongoing monitoring so you can be sure you have control of your brand.
Click here to learn your reputation management options and start building a better online image today.