Online Reputation Management

In the lightning fast-paced, ever-evolving digital age, it’s easy to feel defenceless against criticism of your brand. As long as customers have access to a keyboard or smart device, and the ability to transform their gripes into a coherent amalgamation of words, then it’s open season for you and your business. A big fat tick in the box marked freedom of speech; potentially damaging for your company.

Online Reputation Management

To guide you through the oft-turbulent waters of online reputation management, here are ten devilishly handy tips that will help protect your business and strengthen the bonds between you and your customer base.

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Earn the respect!

Trust is a commodity that’s difficult to earn...yet frighteningly easy to lose. Becoming a well-respected brand is the Holy Grail when it comes to building an online reputation—and all other threads in this list can be traced back to this fundamental objective. 

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts on the road to commanding respect as a business, but there are two key questions you could ask yourself that might help determine your potential.

1) Am I contributing value?

2) and Are my brand’s core principles clear and non-negotiable?

Answer these positively and you’re heading in the right direction.

Be brave in your transparency...

The San Francisco-based electronics and fitness company FitBit are a great example of when a business succeeds through radical transparency. In an attempt to moderate the unease users might feel about their fitness technology collecting personal data, FitBit decided to be completely open about their methods: namely, how they collect data and what they use it for. They also provide regular privacy policy updates so customers know that FitBit’s information is always current.

Being transparent about your working processes is a sure-fire way to show your customers that you value them as individuals and that you are willing to adapt your methods if necessary to keep them happy.

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React politely… and quickly!

If you fall victim to a customer complaint, however serious or seemingly trivial or undeserved, the most effective course of action is a swift and polite reply. If an unhappy customer reaches out over Twitter, for example, to air criticism about a service or product, don’t hesitate to offer a cordial response. 

If you don’t feel able to deal with the complaint in as much detail as you’d like publicly, there’s nothing wrong with a simple note to thank them for bringing a particular issue to your attention and that you’re doing everything you can to tackle the problem. You can always ask them to contact you directly for a follow-up where you can tackle the specific nature of the complaint. 

Customers, no matter how wronged they might feel, will always appreciate a polite response over madenning radio silence.

Keep your social media accounts social!

Your social media accounts are extremely useful tools for increasing positive engagement with your customer base—and for handling user issues.

Now, that doesn’t mean simply creating a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram account/page for your business and letting it collect virtual dust—you need to build a steady audience and find ways to interact with them. This is a great method of increasing your online influence and engagement scores.

A failure to stay active will weaken those accounts and create a stale, uninviting social media hinterland that no-one will even think to visit. Things could turn particularly nasty if someone begins to post negative things on your feed that outrank the dated, low-scoring content.

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Blog!

Creating a blog for your company website is a somewhat underrated secret weapon in the world of local SEO. A well-written, regularly-updated blog’s strength lies in its ability to help a site’s ranking on keywords—while also providing plenty of precious content for your social media accounts. 

For the purposes of online reputation, it can not only rank for your business name, but can also act as a valuable safe zone where you carefully address potential issues or recurring complaints made about your company. 

Monitor Google results

While many a Hollywood actor might claim to have never read any press about themselves—whether it’s glowing or positively damning—in the world of online reputation management, you can’t afford to bury your head in the sand.  

If a quick Google search trawls up the words ‘scam’ and ‘knockoff rubbish’ when describing your brand and associated products or services, then, well, you have a problem. 

Even if these assertions are way off the mark, it’s vital that you address the issue and devise a bulletproof SEO strategy to safeguard yourself against negative press and false reports.

Make positives out of negatives!

It might be sometimes hard to believe, but not every negative comment on the internet is the handiwork of trolls or disgruntled competitors. Often criticism is inspired by genuine alarm or the desire for improvement. Negative feedback can be a unique opportunity to discover more about your audience, your product, and the ways in which you might develop.

If the less-than-positive online responses to your brand hold water, it might be time to re-evaluate. 

Everyone remembers the backlash to Pepsi’s infamously misguided ‘Live for Now’ advert starring Kendall Jenner back in 2017. Now there is an example of a huge global company reacting to legitimate concerns and actively reviewing their marketing strategy. And by ‘reviewing’, I mean they buried any trace of the advert’s existence in a deep fiery hole in the Mojave Desert. 

Probably.  

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Deal swiftly and severely with false claims…

While in a good many cases a business can learn from legitimate criticism, sometimes digital barbs aimed at your brand are downright illegal…and you need to take action.

If someone is posting false, potentially-damaging information about your business, it’s in your best interest to take every necessary step to stem the flow of slanderous negativity—or risk the long-term effects on your brand. 

This might involve legal action to ensure they never think to do it again. It’s a criminal offense to post knowingly erroneous content about an individual or group online, with the single intent of harming their reputation—so you need to retort with equally-severe methods.

Learn lessons from your mistakes!

Even multinational mega-firms can feel the burn of a blunderous social media faux pas—the important thing is to learn lessons from these missteps. In 2018, T-Mobile Austria dipped their toes in hot water when one of their customer support team admitted that technicians could view elements of user passwords. 

Unsurprisingly, security-conscious mobile users found this somewhat concerning and, as a result, the company has never properly disassociated themselves from the issue of poor security.

If you’ve made an error as a business, the safest route from an online reputation perspective is to own up to it immediately, take positive action to remedy the problem, and, most of all, learn from your mistakes.

Finally… seek help if you need it!

If you find your online reputation management efforts are not sufficient enough to protect or reinvigorate your brand image, you have the option to seek professional help. 

Here at Sonder, we understand the importance of safeguarding the optics of your business and, as digital marketing experts, we have all the tools, knowledge and SEO strategies to escort you on this essential journey. 

So why not get in touch?

Posted by Jack Turner on September 24th 2021

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