If you don’t control your brand online, someone else will.
Just about every transaction starts online now. If consumers see negative content about your business in search engine results, then you are taking a huge risk of losing business.
Online reputation management is all about monitoring and controlling what is being said about your business on the internet. As your business grows, you will quickly find that people are discussing your business, and more importantly, searching for what others have said about you.
Here’s a quick exercise:
Go to Google, do a search for your company’s name or your product’s name and take note of what shows up in the search results.
- Do you see something negative?
- Do you only see a couple (or zero) results for a website that you control?
If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions, then you have some online reputation management work to do. To help you stay in control of your brand, here’s a simple guide on how to manage your online reputation:
Monitor Your Brand
One of the most important aspects of online reputation management is to know what is being said about your business. You need to monitor your brand on a regular basis. If you don’t know what is being said, you can’t respond. And if you don’t respond, your reputation may take a negative hit.
Monitoring search results, blog posts, social media platforms, and other content online can be a difficult and extremely time consuming task. Fortunately, there are many useful tools available for businesses to effectively monitor their brand. Here are just a few:
Use these tools to monitor online conversations and immediately spot any opportunities or risks to your reputation. If negative content about your business is brewing somewhere online, you can identify it and deal with it accordingly.
Maximize Your Social Media Presence
Social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Quora typically rank well for branded searches. If you haven’t already, you should create profiles on each of these social media platforms. Not only does this give you additional channels to distribute positive content about your business, it also helps you control what is listed in search engine results.
If you want to push a negative search result off the first page of Google, then have as many social media profiles as possible. By staying active with your social profiles you can get them ranked on the first page and push down negative results.
Just make sure when you create a social profile, you use your brand name for the username. You need to be sure that no one else has control of misrepresenting your business online. You can use a service like KnowEm to quickly check and register your brand name across hundreds of social media platforms.
Publish Quality Content to Control Search Engine Results
By regularly posting quality content about your business, you’ll better your chances of outranking negative content. The goal is to secure all 10 spots on the first page of Google for your brand. If you haven’t already, you should create a blog to publish content. It also gives you a solid platform where you can directly respond to any major allegations made about your business if necessary.
Your blog along with your social media profiles will serve as a way to distribute content and get it ranked in Google.
Encourage Customers to Share Positive Reviews
Many customers are quick to share a negative experience or complaint, but most don’t think about expressing appreciation for good service. A simple request for customers to provide positive reviews can go a long way for your online reputation. You can make these requests on your website, social media profiles, or on a sign in your establishment.
Customer feedback builds credibility for your business. Positive online reviews can help boost search engine rankings, provide new customers with a sense of trust, and help quiet the negativity of any bad reviews. A study at BrightLocal found that 84% of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a business, and 80% of consumers will take action after reading a positive review.
Respond to Criticism and Take Responsibility For Mistakes
Once you start monitoring your online reputation and discover that negative comments are being made, you should promptly respond to it in a polite manner. Negative comments left unchecked can spread like wildfire on the internet. Responding promptly is the best way to minimize the damage because it ensures that your point of view is also seen by anyone reading it.
If your business makes a mistake or does something wrong, then you need to own up to it. Make a genuine apology to those who have been affected. Admit wrongdoing, vow it won’t happen again, and revamp business procedures to make sure it doesn’t. You should be transparent so consumers can see the steps you’re taking to fix the issue. Projecting openness and regret will help you win back trust.
Don’t Get Sucked Into Online Arguments
Negativity has a way of getting people emotionally riled up. In an emotional state like this, it can be easy to get sucked into an argument that damages your reputation. Even if you’re technically right, you might lose out overall by coming across as harsh and unprofessional. Professional and courteous responses will win over more customers than being “right” in an online disagreement.
If you receive an overly negative review and feel yourself getting drawn into an escalating conflict, take a step back and relax. Negative reviews can often feel like a personal attack and it’s perfectly normal to experience an emotional effect. The best course of action is to quickly diffuse the situation and take the conversation offline. From there you can deal with the issue one-on-one and come up with a solid resolution.
Provide Great Customer Service
Focusing on providing great customer service is the best way to avoid an online reputation crisis. If you focus on providing the best service possible, your happy customers will be your best promoters and defenders of your business. They will support you and speak favorably on your behalf if your business ever has to deal with an online reputation issue. You won’t have to worry as much about your online reputation when happy customers are spreading positive reviews all over the internet.
A great brand can take years and millions of dollars to build. It only takes a few hours for a bad customer experience to go viral and impact your bottom line. It’s even worse if you don’t know it’s happening and you’re not on top of the situation. Use this guide to monitor, manage, and improve your online reputation so you can protect your brand against negative attacks.
Do you have a question about online reputation management? Let us know in the comments below.
Does your business need help with its online reputation? Our expert online reputation team can craft exciting content, create innovative campaigns and develop a comprehensive online reputation strategy that will fully protect your brand. Contact us today to get started.