The internet has made our lives a lot more convenient, and it’s easier than ever before to connect with family and friends - and even shop for pretty much anything without leaving the couch! However, that connectedness can be a double-edged sword for your business if you aren’t careful about the way that your brand is perceived.
When customers buy from your company, they’ll spread the word about their experience - for better or for worse. Having a reputation management strategy is the key to making sure your business benefits rather than suffer from being present in the public eye.
Let’s talk about how internet reputation management works and how to get your business the positive attention it deserves.
If you’re looking to expand your business, chances are that you’re well aware of the benefits that an effective digital marketing campaign has to offer. However, if your company has a negative reputation all of that effort would be for naught.
Companies that fall out of favor with their audience will quickly run into some serious problems. This is where quality public relations comes into play. While digital marketing may bring in new customers and potentially re-engage previous customers, PR focuses on keeping the discussion around a company positive and quickly addressing threats to reputation.
It can be tempting to throw all of the company’s resources into drumming up business, but without adequate attention to the wants and needs of the current customer base, you may start to find yourself in hot water.
So now that we’ve established how important it is to invest resources in public relations, let’s talk about some key aspects of a reputation management strategy that you can put into place immediately to keep your brand moving in the right direction.
One of the biggest factors that can dry up even the biggest boom in business is disgruntled customers. With most people turning to online reviews to learn more about a company before they make the decision to buy, it’s critical that companies be ahead of the game to put out any proverbial fires before they become a real issue.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of online reputation management, and there are several different facets to keep in mind in order to ensure your business is keeping customers singing its praises rather than starting a negative dialogue about the brand.
The most obvious method of addressing customer concerns is by maintaining an effective customer support staff. When someone has an issue with your company or product, the last thing you want to do is respond to that concern with a slow or unhelpful response. Comprehensive training of support staff and making sure you dedicate the proper resources to the department are key in order to address any issues and maintain trust in the brand.
In an ideal world, having positive customer support will be enough to keep on top of internet reputation management. However, angry customers will often take to social media or online review outlets to voice their disappointment, with even the most well-managed brands running into this issue. Responding quickly to these posts can benefit the company both by appeasing that specific customer, as well as building rapport in the community as a brand that is committed to quality customer service.
Keeping an effective customer service department and responding to complaints online is a good start to giving your company a well-deserved reputation boost. However, it’s important to consistently be keeping an eye on the general sentiment around the brand, and one of the best ways to do that is through social listening tools.
The online world is huge and continues to expand, and even the smallest companies are going to have trouble following the discussion on their brand across all major social platforms. While some consumers may tag the company page or use relevant hashtags, there will be many tweets and posts related to your company that you’d never come across through regular use of social media. Social listening tools give you the technology you need to “listen” in on public content across platforms and come across discussions that could negatively affect your brand.
While it might be difficult to quantify the benefits that knowledge of the general reception of your brand has to offer, it’s a valuable way to measure whether your efforts to manage company reputation are paying off and address areas that need extra attention.
Many of these tips have focused on addressing problems as they come up or after they’ve already become a major issue, but there’s something to be said for being more proactive with reputation management as well.
The most successful companies have built a community around their brand that trusts their products and even recommend it to their family and friends. This type of engagement doesn’t happen by accident! Effective social media management and regularly interacting with customers can help build a personality around the company rather than giving off the impression of a “faceless” corporation.
It’s critical to address customer concerns through quality support and measuring sentiment, but once you have that under control reputation management is all about taking action to make the brand more attractive around the whole. Consider the message you want to send with your company, and take steps to ensure that your presence online is presenting a consistent front that moves you closer to that goal.
While it’s certainly possible to manage your company’s reputation on your own, there’s something to be said for bringing in a marketing company or PR firm that really knows their stuff. Online reputation management services can help you address one of the most important parts of doing business, and are also an excellent resource to have on hand in the event of a public relations emergency.
Proper advertising, search engine and conversion rate optimization, and social media management are important. Make sure you’re not neglecting the other side of the coin, however, since your brand’s reputation can either be your biggest boon or a potential pitfall.
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