Get Preventative Today to Protect Your Reputation Tomorrow
By: Eamon Arnett 04/30/2014
A lot of companies don't even think about reputation management until something bad happens to their brand. Suddenly, a few negative reviews or other unflattering digital content becomes a crisis requiring immediate action to mitigate.
While those companies are smart to try and protect their brand's reputation from the damage inflicted by negative publicity, there's no reason to dig yourself into a hole by waiting until disaster strikes. By then, you're already at a steep disadvantage, and your brand is suffering by the minute. But it doesn't have to be that way. On digital channels, the best way to combat negative content is by diluting its presence amid a wealth of positive brand-related content. And that's something you can get to work on right away, well before problems start to crop up.
In fact, the sooner you start building up positive brand sentiments online, the less your damage will suffer from negative online content.
Building a Network of Positive Content
The Internet has turned even the common user into a content creator. Personal blogs and websites, social media accounts, reviews websites and other content creation platforms all lend a potentially powerful voice to the individual. It's possible for one consumer's complaints to proliferate across the Internet, inflicting widespread damage to brands along the way.
This terrifies brands, as it should. But companies need to realize that content creation works both ways. Just as consumers can use online content to take down brands they're unsatisfied with, brands can create content on their own to positively influence and reinforce their brands reputation. And most companies have far more resources to do this with, giving them an advantage over the individual Internet user.
The best way to manage your reputation effectively is to produce content consistently, and well ahead of any negative press. Create social media posts and promote blog posts through them, send out press releases and engage other consumers. Building positive experiences through the content you create can further strengthen brand loyalties among your consumer base, which can in turn inspire more content.
This varied content all combines to build positivity among your digital presence. When negative content does inevitably strike, it will be diluted by the larger mass of positive content. As a result, you can more effectively push that negative content out-of-view from other prospective consumers, including where search query results are concerned.
Because you've built up a positive reputation ahead of the negative strikes, the damage this content inflicts will be minimal.
Monitoring Your Brand Across the Internet
Even as you produce brand-positive content, it's smart to keep tabs on your brand as it is mentioned across the Internet. A number of free and low-cost tools are available to help you track down even the smallest of mentions related to your brand. The most popular tools include Mention, Google Alerts, and TalkWalker.
Through these tools, you can see whether the conversation surrounding your brand is positive, negative or a mix. In cases of negative content, you can better prepare your response to those customer grievances, possibly stemming the onslaught of negative content before it snowballs. And because you've established such a positive reputation through your own content, you'll have a much better buffer protecting you from the immediate consequences of these customer complaints.
In the end, the consistency of content regarding your brand could mitigate negative content. If negative experiences account for only a small percentage of your customer base--and if your online content reflects this ratio--your brand shouldn't suffer.
The key is remembering that reputation management is much more than simply protecting your brand. You also need to withstand the bumps and bruises that come with heightened digital exposure. Gaining greater control of that exposure is key, especially early on, if you want to weather the storm and come out in great shape on the other side.