Online reputation management is as much about promoting good news as it about burying the bad news and negative reviews that every business will come across at one point. The only way you can actively promote positives is by taking a proactive approach to reputation management. This could involve things as simple as reaching out to your customers to encourage them to leave a good review, to widening your content net so that you cover more platforms, and reach more people.
In this article, we’ll discuss the merits of a proactive approach to reputation management and then focus on 9 techniques that will allow you to put it into practice. Examples are given throughout the text, and serve to point the reader in the right direction. The end goal is an enhanced understanding of the intricacies of online reputation management, and how it differs from a reactive crisis management approach adopted by many brands.
When you want to be able to safeguard your brand and ensure it sees the growth that your hard work deserves, you need to think about how you approach the issue of online reputation management.
Research has shown the significant degree to which negative online reviews will overpower positive reviews, which means you cannot afford to be complacent. What may at first appear like a single customer whose experience didn’t live up to unrealistic expectations can quickly result in a commensurate fall in prestige and revenue. To give you plenty of food for thought we’re going to take a look at two different philosophies regarding online reputation management, followed by a range of techniques that you can implement the minute you finish reading.
Two Schools of Thought: Proactive vs Reactive
If you wait for a PR catastrophe to happen and then do your best to manage it, you’re being reactive. When you word it like the previous sentence it doesn’t seem like the best approach to take, does it?
The opposite is to be proactive, which means you’re actively searching our negative reviews, areas for improvement, and doing your best to reach out to unhappy clients and customers. You’ll also devote a significant amount of time to generating positive content that highlights key achievements. It will go a long way to not just averting PR backlashes but actually enhance your brand. In the rest of the article, we’re going to focus our attention on proactive techniques that will make your brand more prosperous and valuable.
Respond to Your Positive Reviews
One of the best ways to drown out the sound of a couple of negative reviews is to amplify the presence of your hundreds of positive reviews. People love to see businesses that are approachable and personable. For this reason, you need to ensure that you publicly respond to every positive review or message on social media you receive. There’s no need to answer with a sales pitch, in fact, that just appears contrived. Answer with a friendly topical message that’s professional and approachable. That way you’ll be able to get a little more mileage out of every bit of glowing feedback.
Blogging is a Great Way to Get Your Message Out There
Reputation management isn’t just about burying the bad news, it’s also about giving your brand a voice that your customers can relate to. If you want to be able to get your message out there with the click of a button your blog is one of the most effective ways to do it.
Blogs work best when they’re primarily focused on adding value to the user experience. By all means, promote a few of your products and services from time to time, but make sure this is very much a secondary pursuit. Dispense advice and wisdom that your readers will value and you’ll be able to build trust and loyalty — two things that are conducive to a thriving brand that people want to do business with.
Solicit Feedback from Your Customers
If you want to be truly proactive then you need to start seeking out your customers, rather than waiting for them to tell you what they thought. A lot of the time a happy customer won’t think to leave a review, which means you’re missing out on priceless social proof and free marketing.
Be active in approaching customers for feedback, and give it your full care and attention regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. Positive feedback is great marketing, and negative feedback is an ideal opportunity to learn so that you can put the steps in place that will safeguard your brand for years to come.
Be Transparent About Human Errors
Every business will fall victim to a human error or a tech bug at one point or another. Whilst you should certainly be doing everything in your power to avoid them, and no doubt you are, it’s no use obstinately refusing to admit that you could ever fall victim to one. This is because when the inevitable happens you won’t be in a flexible or adaptable state of mind that will enable you to do the right thing. If you’re ever in any doubt, the right thing to do is always to be transparent about what went wrong, and then clearly outline what you’re going to do about it.
Never Get Drawn into Contentious Online Debates
Online debates about contentious issues are primed to expose your brand to negative press and to offend a certain section of your target market. This may seem like the price you have to pay to be online and engaged these days, but it’s not really the case when you think about it. Take a step back, remove yourself from the debate, and politely stay focused on what it is that your business actually needs you to do.
Ask the Advice of an Expert
When you want to be able to put together a proactive strategy that won’t just safeguard your brand, but will actually enhance it, you need to speak to an expert. There are a number of reputable online reputation management companies on the market right now, which means all you need to do is find one you are comfortable working with over the long term. Ask a number of screening questions, request a portfolio, and generally get a feel for their mindset.
Don’t Shy Away from Social Media
It can be all too easy to stay off social media in the hope of never getting caught up in something you would rather your brand was nowhere near. The problem with this school of thought is that people are still going to use social media to vent anger or spread malicious rumors about your brand. If you want to stay abreast of the latest views on what you’re doing, then you need to actively monitor your handles and hashtags. It’s the only way that you can then address negative content that could otherwise be going viral without your knowledge.
Diversify the Nature of Your Content
Working on one or two platforms makes for a streamlined strategy, but it’s a rather ineffectual way to reach out to your target audience. Blogs, YouTube demonstrations, Facebook Live, Twitter, they all need to form part of your content hierarchy if you’re going to be effective at getting your message out there. This will be particularly important if you’re in the midst of some negative press that’s threatening to derail your brand.
Constantly Put Out Good News and Exciting Developments
Last but not least, there’s no more proactive way to protect your brand than by constantly pushing out the new breakthroughs and good news. What you’re aiming to do here is post regularly so that when people search you they’re not greeted by a mix of positive and negative reviews. Instead, you want them to see a wall of positive reviews, developments, and stories about the expansion and trustworthiness of your brand. That way browsers will be able to see at a glance that yours is a brand they can trust without having to worry about a few dissenting voices.
Now that you’ve gained some invaluable insights into how the world of online reputation management works, it’s over to you to put these aforementioned techniques into practice. Take the time to get it right by learning as you go, and always look for ways to improve. That way you’ll be able to make the smart decisions that take your brand to the next level.
Estelle Liotard is a seasoned content writer and a blogger, with years of experience in different fields of marketing. She is a content editor at Trust My Paper and loves every second of it. Her passion is teaching people how to overcome digital marketing obstacles and help businesses communicate their messages to their customers.