If a business has suffered from negative reviews online it may be challenging figuring out how to respond to negative posts and other online factors that are negatively impacting a business. Yes, a brand’s online reputation is very important. Unfortunately, the internet is both a blessing and a curse. Brands can take advantage of the web by developing a strong brand and building a community, but if something goes awry and a huge error is made, it can be the beginning of the end. Thankfully there are ways to improve your online reputation, but before we get into that, let’s first learn what Social Media Examiner has to say about why a positive reputation is so powerful in the first place.
Every day, people use the internet to find locations, share stories, write reviews, conduct research, get information, design things, and buy and sell products and services.
According to Statista (as of March 2018), 46.1% of people between the ages of 18 and 60 research products online before going to the store to purchase them.
A Podium survey found that 93% of consumers are influenced to purchase (or not) by online reviews.
WordStream reported that 43% of consumers research online while in-store, and BigCommerce states that 80% of Americans shop online at least once a month.
These studies make it clear that what people say about your brand online directly affects your bottom line. Businesses can lose contracts, employees can get fired, and even more importantly, the brand’s reputation can suffer, whether the negative information is true or not. Online reputation impacts profit.
And, with our increasing dependence on social media, people are using social platforms to assess your brand’s character and value, often before they purchase. If you address negative reviews and mentions head-on, as Southwest Airlines does below, you can often turn things to your advantage.
If you’re just getting started with your business, Forbes offers some quick tips on how to check to see what your brand’s current reputation is. If it’s not the greatest, the below tips should help repair it and get you back on track.
If you haven’t done this lately, Google your business name (and your name) and check out the first-page results. Congratulations, if what you find is accurate and positive in nature.
If the results are not so great, it’s time to get reactive and start working to fix the damage. For startups and entrepreneurs, there are steps to take before you launch your business. A good creative approach can be:
Create Google Alerts for your company, products, and top executives.
Create social profiles on Twitter TWTR -5.87%, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
Create a public relations strategy and use it frequently.
Create positive postings for the major social media outlets.
Create a YouTube channel and populate it early and often.
Create an online forum and closely monitor what’s being posted there.
Effective SEO is another way to work on your brand’s online reputation, but TechBear says it’s vital to do it correctly. Whether or not that means hiring an SEO professional is up to you, but it may be worth it if you’d like to enhance your reputation online.
You may not even be aware of the fact just how much great SEO (search engine optimization) can boost your brand’s reputation. In general, people tend to trust the brands that appear higher in the search results more. Not to mention the tendency to simply ignore search results after the first or second page. Great SEO will help you climb your way in the rankings, which will significantly improve your company’s image and business. Therefore, don’t ignore the importance of valuable, original and helpful content. A blog is a great way to start, so don’t hesitate to utilize it to its full capacity. Both Google and the audience enjoy fresh content. Combine that with the fact that content is key for proper optimization strategy, and you’ll be climbing ranks and getting positive recognition in no time.
In addition to improving SEO, TechBear also recommends setting up Google Alerts so you’ll know exactly what is going on and when and what site you get mentioned on. Getting ahead of negative reviews is also a powerful perk so you can fix the issue right away if needed.
One of the most important things when it comes to the ability to repair your company’s online reputation is to stay updated with your company’s mentions online. In order to get the information about your business as soon as possible, your best strategy is to set up Google Alerts. That way, you’ll get email notifications every time someone posts content mentioning your company, be it positively or negatively. In case you get some negative reviews, Google Alerts will give you the chance to learn about them quickly and have enough time to fix the issue.
Another powerful way to improve a brand’s online reputation is through content. If you have a blog and you’re not writing enough content or you’d like to identify with your audience more, it may be time to get writing on that blog again. Business News Daily has some helpful suggestions on how to create new material.
Content development and management. To rank well in search engines and build a good reputation, you need to have high-quality content. This involves ensuring your website and blog is well-organized, unique and that the content is well-written. Most reputation management services will help you improve your existing content and create new material so that users will not only find positive results about you or your business right away but will also see that the content you share is relevant and worth reading. This adds more credibility to your brand and your reputation.
Establishing credibility once again is also an imperative way to repair any online damage. Brand Yourself explains why this is so important and how it’s done, whether it’s through an Online Reputation Specialist or it’s something you take on yourself.
Once you’ve created a strong foundation and gotten rid of all the negative content that you can, you must look towards establishing yourself as credible and build an audience. Building an audience requires that you demonstrate your expertise. This demands qualifications like degrees, years of experience, and other licensing certification, but also active engagement in your field today.
Establish your credibility by developing a rapport with influencers, gatekeepers and other thought leaders within your industry. Publish your content on respected platforms, and team up with relevant publishers.
Practicing thought leadership can be incredibly helpful for you. Proving your credibility is a multi-faceted project and you can’t come at it from just one angle. By actively showcasing examples of your credibility you will naturally attract an audience.
And, of course, Media Bistro suggests developing a plan prior to going about fixing your brand’s online reputation. Here’s what they recommend:
Managing your reputation is a manner of organization and foresight. Make sure to set up Google alerts for all titles in question using brand names, product tags, popular misspellings (use analytics to find these), competitors, senior team leaders and key industry terms and popular search phrases. By discovering the problem, you can develop a solution.
Always have a well-thought-out plan for how to handle a reputation crisis. Sometimes the best fix to a problem is not to respond to the problem at all. Look to see if the offending website that hosts the negative comments about you will gain popularity by the rebuttals from the company or person trying to defend himself—if the site performs on other people’s comments it may be a good idea not to respond at all.
Do not feed the fire.
Some say the only three laws for reputation management are authority, authority, authority. The more authority you have, the easier it is to make a big difference in where the stories will rank on the search page results. One way to establish authority is by building a social media reputation with a strong following.
In addition to having a plan of action on how to repair your reputation, they provide a list of quick tips on how to follow through on your plan and what the plan should entail:
Own Your Past. Address the elephant in the room. Acknowledge what the company has perceived to have done wrong. Apologize and have an action plan to make it right.
Control the conversation about your brand. And create an online crisis-listening program to catch increases in negative conversation before they reach bloggers and online media.
Understand complaints your brand already receives. Use social media to clarify customer misunderstandings, reducing overall complaints and building brand fans at the same time.
Adjust your social media response plan based on research, not emotion. Have analytics in place to help make an informed decision. Surges in traffic from websites like Reddit, where users can deliver anonymous content, can indicate a potential crisis developing.
Monitor employee complaint platforms. Glassdoor is one such resource.
Be proactive to prevent issues from turning into a crisis. Use decision trees that include the steps to take when an issue surfaces online or within the media for faster handling of potential issues.
Limit potential surprises. Own variations of your website URL, including negative versions (Yourbrandsucks.com).
Take complaints offline when possible. This ensures both a faster response for the customer, and less visibility about the issue at hand.
Be quick to apologize to customer complaints. Remember that a happy customer tells five fans, an unhappy customer tells 10, a fan who had an issue resolved tells 20. This is a great way to build super fans.