No matter the size of your business, being active on online is vital for maintaining a positive online reputation. Now more than ever, customers and clients are talking; posting on Facebook about your latest product, tweeting about their experience with your company, and leaving questions and feedback on your blog instead of contacting your company directly.
How your business responds to these online comments, questions, and criticism can help or hinder your online reputation, which in turn can affect your company’s bottom line. Those that think they can ignore online comments, reviews, and criticism, should think again – your online reputation is more important than ever.
What Are People Saying About Your Company?
With 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it’s more important than ever to have a proactive plan in place for managing your business’s online reputation. Key components of a proactive plan include:
- Monitoring your online reputation on a regular basis by gathering public online content from social media channels, tweets, and blog posts
- Determining whether the negative or positive feedback is affecting your reputation
But knowing what’s been said isn’t enough. How you respond is just as important. The best online reputation management involves knowing when and how to react to what people say online.
Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation
Having a strategy or plan in place to manage your company’s online reputation is essential. Jump start your company’s plan with these tips that benefit businesses of all sizes.
Be Transparent – Open a 1-to-1 communication channel with customers and clients, and ask for their feedback. Be ready to address feedback publicly and promptly, and don’t hide criticism. But before your company “becomes transparent”, have a proper online reputation management plan in place, and employees that have enough social media savvy to handle it. While transparency can be intimidating, not being transparent can be riskier in the long run.
Monitor Your Reputation – Not only will monitoring your reputation allow you to react quickly when needed, but it can also bring in business as many consumers ask questions via social media when deciding whether or not to buy your products or services.
React Quickly and Politely – If you don’t have a definitive answer to a complaint or criticism, it’s better to give a simple “We are aware of the problem and are working on it, will get back to you as soon as we can” than to let the comment sit there and fester. You can always follow up with more information later.
Respond to Reviews – Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% of consumers naming this as key when judging a local business. Whether it’s positive or negative, feedback about your business can give you insight and the opportunity to improve. For tips on responding to negative reviews, and example responses, click here.
Fight Illegal Attacks – While everyone has a right to express their voice about your brand, there are boundaries that need to be respected and some negative content is actually illegal, including:
- Use of defamatory language
- Reporting false information
- Content that is aimed at damaging a company’s reputation
Depending on the scope of the problem, there are several ways to restore your online reputation, including reacting quickly with a legal liaison, devising a search marketing strategy to rank positive content higher on search engines, and hiring online analysts for serious attacks on brand image.
Ask for Help – The internet has changed quickly in the last several years, and business that haven’t invested much in communication can struggle with regular interactions on social networks, resulting in incorrect or inconsistent efforts. Hiring a company for brand reputation management can give your business the in-depth online monitoring it needs for successful online reputation management.
Your company has an online reputation, there’s no escaping it. But if you choose to monitor and manage your company’s reputation with care, it will benefit your company and your brand.