Online Reputation is the outcome of how you run your business, & what people say or think about your services online. If you are responsible for marketing in your company, it is important for you to be aware of how your reputation online affects your sales, especially when you have a brand that is popular and people follow closely what you do.
It is common knowledge that when comes to sharing their experiences, consumers are lot more vocal about their bad experiences than good ones (Watch this). Opinions spread faster than ever through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. This can very easily affect the reputation of any business. This can be negative publicity, especially when complaints are not handled in proactive manner. This brings the very important point of why listening & responding online is so critical for your business.
How it Works?
When shoppers search for your brand in online, both good and bad things about you show up in search results. They not only look for information on your website, but also look at blogs, review sites, forums, etc. to know what others are saying about your business. When they see good reviews about your brand it boosts their confidence and helps build credibility for your brand. What happens when you have 7 out 10 results that are bad reviews?
Online Reputation Management is a strategy to manage search engine results, by listening to what people are saying about your brand. Your ultimate goal in this strategy is to bring good publicity about your brand to the top of the search engine results, in turn pushing the bad publicity results down in the list. This requires you to have a proactive strategy in place, to handle unexpected bad publicity online.
Research is the critical and the longest process in consumers? buying cycle.? They use search engines to research and gather information, so that they can make informative decisions. If they find information about your brand, that is more negative than positive, it is highly likely that they take their business elsewhere. By not being proactive in handling negative reviews, you might be spending lot more time and resources to gain the control back in the market.
How to Manage Online Reputation
Step 1: Monitoring
Setup tools in place to listen to what is being said about your brand online. Accept the reality that people tend to be more honest about negative experiences and more eager to share them. There are several social monitoring tools available for you to use such as Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts, Social Mention, Hoot Suite, etc. Some are free of cost and some require subscription. Choose the tools wisely depending on your situation.
Step 2: Analyzing
Once you start gathering data from these monitoring tools, what do you do with it? Be proactive and analyze the data frequently, and make use of important feedback to improve your services and provide better brand experience to your consumers. Be sure to let your consumers know that their feedback is valuable for your business.
Step 3: Influencing
When you come across negative comments, while monitoring your brand getting involved in the conversation is very critical. By owning up to your mistakes, offering compensation for inconvenience caused by these mistakes and also by providing assurance that this will not repeat in the future, you can influence the outcome of negative publicity. This accountability may even help strengthen credibility of your brand and build confidence.
Similar to how you have disaster recovery, & operations crisis management for your company, it is very important that you implement a digital crisis management strategy and assign responsible parties to execute this strategy when needed.
Choices that you have online can be overwhelming. Before you implement or setup tools for online reputation management, do your home work. Understand which social media platform is most popular among your target demographics. Setup your presence on these platforms and start monitoring. Participate actively in online conversations, even if is not directly related to your brand. Online Reputation Management can be time consuming and it has to be done. So, make sure you have delegated this to someone in your company who is accountable for managing these activities.