The task of managing a company’s online reputation has become even more complex with the increasing reach and popularity of blogs, customer review sites as well as social networks. And who and what do pose a threat to your brand image online? And how to deal with it? Let us find out!
Negative news spreads fast
Just imagine what will happen if a disgruntled former colleague or an unhappy customer decide to write negative things about your company? Their comments will reach several other Internet users in one go with the click of a mouse. Remember, the bad news tends to spread fast owing to the viral nature of all-pervasive social media, so it’s vital that you effectively deal with it on priority basis.
Aspects integral to online reputation management
You cannot afford to let the public opinion go against you. By being proactive in managing your online reputation, you can have a far greater control over what others get to see when they search for you and your company/brand name. From this angle, let us follow the key areas of online reputation management:
- In today’s highly competitive business environment, online reputation management has become absolutely essential to dig out an unfavorable mention of your company/ product/service. It helps to weed out any such piece of information so as to keep your brand image clean online.
- When you make use of a comprehensive platform to monitor social media sites, local review sites, professional networking sites, question amp; answer sites, blogs, wikis and forums, you will immediately come to know when someone mentions about your company – whether it’s for right or wrong reasons – on any of these popular platforms. This will allow you to take the necessary corrective steps, ASAP.
- You can address genuine concerns of your customers before they translate into PR disasters. In fact, this forms the crux of an effective online reputation management plan.
In essence, online reputation management is about devising a strategy to handle negative publicity, treating it as a business emergency. There are many constructive ways to respond to criticism in your endeavor to build credibility and trust in the public realm. You have two options:
- Simply ignore the feedback.
- Take it on its face value and learn from it.
So what is the most appropriate approach? Here are some vital tips!
Accept negative remarks:
Humbly accept the customers’ feedback even if you think that they are not right or the criticism is not justified. Give them the benefit of the doubt because the longer goes a tug of war, the lesser is scope for an amicable resolution!
Quick response is critical:
Being quick in your response helps. Timing is critical while managing negative news flow. Minor issue won’t snowball into a major controversy, if you face it right away.
Try to come up with a solution:
Retain your composure even while facing criticism. Consider the problem areas and try to come up with viable solutions. If this is going to take time, acknowledge the feedback, at the very least. Give a concrete deadline to the aggrieved customer as to when you will revert back.
Project your satisfied clients:
Referrals from your contended clients are usually considered the best possible means of creating new business opportunities. They can be equally useful in dealing with critical comments on the Web.
Integral components of online reputation management
Following are the integral aspects of online reputation management:
- A regularly updated blog can allow you to boost your online image. A series of informative posts will not only satisfy readers, but also attract search engines, thus enhancing the conversion prospects.
- Create dynamic profiles on popular social media platforms. Alternatively, you may start a Wiki or activate a customer forum.
- Contribute articles to leading industry-specific platforms on the Web. They not only increase your credibility, but also improve the search engine visibility.
- Remain in spotlight for the right reasons and draw attention of the media. If you have expertise to share or a story to tell, locate bloggers and journalists. Build mutually beneficial, professional bonds with them.
Why do you need a professional service to monitor social media?
A series of unsavory remarks about you and your company, if left unattended, may become perception. Ultimately, perception will become reality, unless you decide to challenge it. Unfortunately, you may not always be in a position to handle this tricky situation on your own, so it makes sense to approach a professional service that can assist you in monitoring, and if required, reestablishing your company’s reputation online.
There are several steps that you can take to ensure effective online reputation management with the help of experts.
- You must regularly monitor local review sites, blogs and social media networks to gather the general impression persisting about you and your company.
- Customer complaints should be approached tactfully. If you’ve erred in producing a product or delivering a service, then be forthright and apologize.
- In certain instances, the customer may be wrong. Still, it’s a wise idea to clear the misgivings without creating a friction.
- A string of excuses or apologies on a review site won’t do any good unless you try to fix the actual problem. Look at it as an opportunity to improve upon your products/services.
To sum up
Negative feedback will exist in every walk of life. In fact, the bigger your business gets, the more public scrutiny it may face. What matters is how you deal with your genuine critics as well as disgruntled rivals, perhaps spreading a foul word about you.
If you handle the adverse situation calmly, it will only enhance your credibility. The customers will resolutely stand by you even in the face of adversity, ignoring your harshest critics. In essence, a human touch is essential for a successful online reputation management program.