Any time you meet someone and their first response is, “Your reputation precedes you,” it’s usually not a good thing. They’ve likely heard awful things about you and are just now putting a face to the name.
The same holds true in the world of business. Creating a positive reputation for yourself is almost as important as your annual sales and brand logo.
But what exactly is online reputation management and how is it done? We thought you’d never ask. Keep reading for tips and tricks on maintaining a positive reputation that people can depend on.
Online Reputation Management 101
The landscape of online reputation management has changed in recent years with the development of social media. Reputation management isn’t just about providing a good product or service (although that’s at the root of it).
Maintaining a positive business reputation used to be one-sided. Businesses didn’t interact with customers following the final sale. And if they did, the encounter was brief.
Now, there are countless avenues for customers to express their likes and dislikes about your company. 91% of people read online reviews before making a decision. And of those, 84% trust these reviews as if they were coming from a friend.
The rise of online reviews on sites like Pissed Customer and Ripoff Report give angry customers a sounding board. It also puts companies like yourself on the defensive.
Online reputation management is about being both proactive and reactive. Proactive by running an efficient, honest company that leaves little room for error. And reactive by responding promptly and appropriately to negative feedback.
Welcome to the world of online damage control.
Don’t Fight Fire with Fire
This may be one of the hardest parts of your reputation management strategy: not reacting negatively or defensively to poor customer comments.
Someone’s attacking your business and you have to grin and bear it. Kill them with kindness. And probably apologize for something you didn’t do wrong.
Online reputation management is about eating humble pie sometimes. If a customer writes a nasty or negative review, you can respond (and should). But it’s how you respond that will make or break your reputation.
Apologize for the customer’s bad experience. Assure them you’re taking their concerns into consideration and tell them you hope they’ll give you a second chance.
Reacting in a negative way to bad publicity makes you look petty and unprofessional. Save your frustrated rants for your bathroom mirror, when you’re a safe distance away from your keyboard.
Face the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Another negative approach to online reputation management is ignoring the comments and reviews people post. It’s not wise to adopt the belief that if you ignore the comments they’ll simply go away.
As difficult as it is, you need to face your accusers head-on. And quickly.
Don’t let negative reviews, reports, or articles linger on social media or the internet for long. The sooner you address them, the sooner they’ll be yesterday’s news.
This shows future and current customers that you’re not afraid to face negative reviews and handle them with grace.
Social Media Monitoring
This is where social media monitoring comes into play. And its a big part of your online reputation management plan.
By monitoring all social media feeds including Twitter, Facebook, and online reviews, you have a pulse on what’s being said about your business.
Depending on the size of your company, you can handle social media monitoring yourself using tools like Google Alert. If your company is large, you might want to hire outside help.
Watch Out for Hate Sites
But keeping tabs on social media isn’t your only job when it comes to online reputation management. Some disgruntled customers make it their business to badmouth yours.
People go as far as to create “hate sites” specifically designed to destroy your online reputation. If these sites generate enough attention, it could be devastating for business.
While freedom of speech is covered under the first amendment, defamation of character is illegal. Things, like using defamatory language or reporting false information, are punishable by law.
But before you involve the authorities, try a few tactful online practices to fight off the haters. Aggressive SEO practices can help bump the bad reviews down on the SERPs. Fill the feed with more positive articles about your company.
You can also petition that the negative or inaccurate review be removed from the site. The last resort involves hiring online analysts to investigate your reputation attackers.
The Right Stuff (Tools)
One of the best ways to handle online reputation management is to have some useful tools in place before a problem arises. Here are a few to consider.
This is the perfect tool for social media monitoring. Awario helps you monitor your brand and reviews across all social media profiles. It also generates reports and analysis based on these results.
Not only does Awario alert you when your name brand is mentioned on social media, but it allows you to respond directly through the app. You can also see the difference in the number of positive versus negative comments.
When it comes to reading and addressing negative online reviews, Reputology is where it’s at. This tool offers industry-specific reviews, covering your target audience and customers.
If you own storefronts or have businesses in several locations, Reputology monitors them all simultaneously and reports why some areas are performing better than others. This is perfect for owners trying to be in two places at once.
Your brand reputation feeds into your online reputation. Brandwatch not only tells you what people are saying and feeling about your brand, but it offers detailed reports.
You’ll learn the gender, location, age, and other demographics of your biggest supporters and critics. You can monitor both reviews and social media trends via this app. It also integrates nicely with other tools like Google Analytics, Buzzsumo, and Hootsuite.
Keep Your Online Reputation Intact
Online reputation management is easy with a little effort, the right tools, and a proactive attitude. Don’t let a few bad reviews tarnish your brand.
Face your critics head-on using tact and professionalism.
When it comes to trust and transparency in the field of construction, we can help you make an informed decision. Check out our page and learn more about what we do!