When doing a business, reputation is everything — it gives a social proof of your brand. Without it, your future prospects won’t do business with you because they feel your competitors will give them better services. Since your content is everywhere online, it will hold a public perception.
Where do customers look for reviews of a brand? They go online and consult Google. Studies say that 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses and many of them do not trust the brand until they read at least 10 of their reviews online. It is human nature. We trust other people to tell us what is good and what isn’t.
In fact, the millennial trust these reviews more than they do personal recommendations. So, yes, people are talking about your brand. Let’s see how you can manage your reputation. After all, it’s the public relations on the Internet.
Be Available to Your Customers
Companies must be present where their customers are. This builds trust and lets your clientele know that you are there for them and they are valuable to you. Be it a feedback on your website, tweets, or posts about you – ensure that you employ some strategy to be present and respond to the people who took out time to write to you (or about you!).
Mentions on social media can usually be tracked, but it is a role that requires a professional just like any other aspect of your company. Today, there are forums dedicated to an industry or niche where people share their opinion for the various brands.
Be present and be polite. If a brand’s representative is absent from such a forum, they become grounds of unsupervised support groups for those few people who have had some semblance of a negative experience with you.
Respond to the Negatives
‘…only with acceptance can there be recovery,’ said the famous author J. K. Rowling.
Since public forums are open for everyone, your presence will mean a lot to your customers. When a negative comment or an unpleasant review comes up, it must be met with acceptance foremost, rather than defensive behavior. Only then can you proceed with the next step — damage control.
You will have to make effective use of your online platform to ensure it does not escalate into a crisis. Immediate risk assessment and deployment of relevant personnel is necessary to bring all hands on deck at short notice for correction.
The complainant should then be invited to discuss their grievances in private, for resolution, which ensures that the negative post does not generate high traffic that pushes it up on the search engine results page. You must also continue to deliver positive content about your brand and its services that improves your online reputation.
Incorporate SEO Strategy
Investing in SEO strategies is the primary move to push your ranking on Google’s SERP and ensure traffic that sees your good side. Customers are always looking for information for one thing or another, related to your domain of practice, even if not directly looking for your brand.
You have to ensure your presence when they come looking. Although a good practice, branding via custom business cards is not enough to ensure that stellar reputation with all of your customers. SEO practices incorporate the right keywords into the lead-generating content that’s created and promoted across an array of channels for the right effect.
A user-friendly website that makes a strong impact with its visitors and an active presence on social media also go hand in hand with your SEO-friendly practices. These are the first to show up when your brand is searched online, making them an integral part of your ORM efforts.
Building local citations and ensuring updated listings across the more popular websites and directories in everyday use is also crucial to your ongoing efforts. Search engine results are changing overnight and algorithms keep updating. An eagle eye over the results is imperative for continued positive reputation.
Do Honest Promotion
Always, the most effective, stress-free approach is to ensure that you portray an honest image of yourself for viewers out there. A positive perception is not born in a day; it takes continuous time and effort. You have to use great after-sales strategies, a smooth website and/or app experience, coupled with some brilliant customer service that leaves a lasting image with your customers and inspires loyalty.
It also includes embracing your mistakes and taking a proactive approach to address them for your customers. Google alerts can also be set up to be sure of quick notification whenever your brand is mentioned.
Personal Reputation of Your Executives
The electronic media ensures that customers are aware of the senior executives of any brand. People start associating these executives with the brand and any error on their part can (and does) prove detrimental to their brand’s online and offline reputation.
News stories are in circulation across social media channels and electronic webpages, that people like to share with their connections. Shareholders may look into their accounts when they are looking to invest, and even loyal customers shy away from endorsing the brand upon their misstep.
For a strong personal reputation that promotes a strong corporate brand image, the company personnel will have to take ownership of the brand and project themselves as thoughtful leaders in the industry.
Hire a Reputed Management Consultant
These professionals work to improve and maintain your positive brand image online. They do this by designing credible strategies for content creation and management to boost your online presence. This also includes putting a strong strategy in place for responding to criticism and negative reviews.
You must ensure that the ORM providers you hire, employ the best, transparent online marketing practices, rather than malicious targeting of specific webpages to destabilize your competitors or using fake accounts to promote your brand image.
Good communication is key for any partnership and its ensuing results to flourish. Your agency must be on the same page as yourself with regards to the practices you employ online and the content that makes its way to your audience. Research on their past employers and their respective brand images are also good indicators to see whether the consultants will be the right fit for you.
Consistency in your efforts and policies is the key to manage your brand’s online reputation in the best way possible. Today, the power of the consumer is greater than ever before. A quick, yet sensible response is essential for the mitigation of any problem. You have to use the contemporary digital advances to your best advantage.
A thoughtless move by a single employee can spell doom for the brand, unless you employ public relations to turn it around to your advantage.