How Top Companies Use Reputation Management To Increase ROI
By: Eamon Arnett 02/20/2014
A company’s brand has always been critical to its long-term success. Businesses understandably put a strong emphasis on cultivating a strong reputation that endears them to their customers. But in the digital age, a reputation is anything but static. Between the diversity of voices and opinions aired through business review websites and pages, as well as the ability for a single piece of content to rank highly in your business's related Internet searches, reputations can fluctuate dramatically.
The bad news is that your company's reputation is never safe. But the good news is, you can always bounce back from one or more instances of reputation-damaging content. By employing “online reputation management” into your digital strategy, you can gain better control of your digital reputation and control the online perception of your company. Many business owners may be unsure of how to handle this process, but it's easily accomplished when broken down into steps.
Working with some of the top brands and high net worth individuals, has really helped me to understand the best ways to monitor, create, repair some of the most influential names through online reputation management. Here's a roadmap to preventing, monitoring, and restoring your reputation through online strategy.
Step 1: Monitor Your Reputation Constantly
Even as you work to expand the presence of your own digital properties, businesses need to keep a keen eye on how their reputation is being affected online -- for better or for worse. Fortunately, there is a long list of resources that you can use to keep constant watch of what's happening among online consumers.
For free and highly influential resources, Google Alerts might be the best. Google Alerts lets you track you or your brand's reputation through the company's wide range of digital products. You can customize your alerts to make sure you're getting exactly the type of information you want, and you can choose to receive that information in daily or weekly reports.
Other effective digital tools covering social reputation concerns include Tweet Alarm, Social Mention and Pin Alerts. Hyper Alerts, meanwhile, is considered a highly valuable tool when trying to monitor Facebook, and it also covers review websites like Yelp. And for help monitoring your reputation and then identifying top influencers to help build a positive brand, resources like Talkwalker can be highly effective.
Step 2: Build a Broad, Detailed Online Footprint
It's easier than ever -- not to mention cheaper than ever -- to build multiple online properties for your business. Whereas businesses of the past had to settle for a business website, you can now build on to that central property through a wide range of social media profiles -- all of which can contribute to your company's SEO.
Even if you're not primarily concerned with reputation management, it's becoming essential for most businesses to set up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other main profiles -- these help establish your credibility and increase your online visibility. But such digital properties also create more avenues for content creation and SEO influence. Together, they increase the ease with which you can manage your own reputation.
In cases where reputation management is a top priority, it's wise to develop a social presence even on platforms that might be secondary to your interests. Developing accounts on YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Wordpress and other platforms will only increase your grip on your company's Web presence. With each profile, make sure your city and state are integrated into your publicly available information -- this will contribute to the SEO value of those properties, particularly when it comes to local search -- and this will help push your own properties to the top of search rankings, diluting the presence of other content that might be damaging your reputation.
Step 3: Have a Plan to React
Inevitably, negative feedback and potentially reputation-damaging interactions will crop up online. This happens no matter how great your business is at catering to customers and creating a positive customer experience. When negative feedback and comments appear, you can mitigate the damage through effective, strategic responses. But since there's so much risk in worsening your reputation through a distasteful response, you need to have a set course of action before you take action.
When responding to negativity online, try to respond quickly -- ideally, within a few hours. Online consumers are less patient than ever, and the traditional waiting period of 24-to-48 hours isn't acceptable to them. Always work to respond immediately.
You'll also want to assess the impact of the negative comment -- not only the impact the experience has had on the consumer, but also the impact the comment may have on your business. Some comments will pose a greater risk -- and have much worse implications -- than others. You'll want to wade through the customers you'll never be able to please and focus on the experiences you can legitimately improve.
Once you've thoroughly assessed the situation, draft a polite, sincere response and post it either as a response in a public forum or privately, such as through email. Your company might want to take time to develop some response templates to help guide this process.
Finally, consider whether a follow-up is needed. Following up days later can help you assess whether your efforts to remedy the situation worked. This feedback can help you improve your response strategies and overall customer experience in the future.
Reputation management isn't always fun, and it doesn't always produce a desired outcome.But when companies are diligent in addressing these needs as best they can, they will reap the benefits of an improved online reputation and increased sales opportunities.