Most businesses will find it hard to keep their customers happy. They continuously try to develop new products and features to meet their needs, connect with them in one-on-one conversations. But no matter how much companies will invest in product development and customer service, they are bound to take a hit to their reputation now and then. Whenever a disgruntled customer posts a negative review or an angry comment on social media, online reputation management kicks in.
Online reputation management will determine how others perceive your business when they search for or come across it online. In other words, managing your reputation online implies taking a proactive approach to what information people stumble upon on the internet. This is very important since over 85% of consumers will trust online reviews from other buyers, as much as they would personal recommendations coming from friends and family. In addition, some 49% of consumers will need at least a four-star rating before they start considering working with a specific business.
The Difference Between Public Relations and Reputation Management
While both public relations and reputation management have the same goal of portraying the company in the best possible light, the biggest difference between them is how they aim to achieve that goal. Typically a PR firm will work externally through various tactics and strategies such as advertising or various other media promotional efforts. In other words, public relations work by strengthening the brand’s image through direct actions on its online presence.
Online reputation management, on the other hand, is the more reactive of the two. Instead of improving the company’s online image and brand reputation, it’s looking for and responding to any potentially damaging content from other people and/or companies. In general, much of the work that goes into online reputation management is handled internally by the business. However, in some cases, there are those that opt to work with a professional reputation management company.
Why Manage Your Online Reputation?
There are plenty of things that can negatively affect a brand online. These can be small attacks, such as negative comments or low star ratings. If handled quickly and effectively, they will not cause any serious problems down the line. Yet, small as they are, if left unchecked, they can gain momentum and generate larger and larger problems until things go completely out of control. Through online reputation management, companies can take care of each of these small “fires” before they can cause any severe damage.
And while there is still a need for building and managing the brand’s online reputation through online marketing, advertising, and other PR tools, most consumers today are also looking to interact with brands on a more organic level. They want to have personalized conversations with businesses by receiving replies to their comments, mentions, and reviews, as well as through direct messages on their social media accounts. That said, the main purpose of online reputation management strategies is to combat negative claims directly by addressing them quickly and openly.
Given the huge number of social media platforms and other review sites where a brand can be mentioned, online reputation management can seem quite daunting. Luckily, however, the following reputation management strategies will help with managing your reputation online.
Quick and Empathic Answers
Quite often, the best type of online reputation management takes place even before a negative comment or review is posted on social media or review site. In fact, for many companies out there, their social media accounts have become real customer service touchpoints, where buyers and potential customers will turn to ask questions. When this happens, businesses should be ready to respond as quickly as possible.
In fact, studies have shown that around 83% of people will expect a response to their social media comments in 24 hours or less. A whopping 44% expect a response in less than one hour. As such, responding quickly is imperative. It’s even more so if we are to take into consideration the fact that as many as 72% of people will be likely to recommend a company if they had a positive experience with it on social media. It’s also important to keep in mind that prompt replies will also prevent frustrated users from going out of their way of making your brand look bad. Showing them that you place a high value on helping them will be less inclined to turn their personal feelings into negative public statements.
Equally as important in these situations is to respond with empathy. This way, you will provide a genuine sense of concern over the situation, and a desire to fix the problem. Also, by providing the customer with an easy and direct means of contacting the company, brands will ensure that things will not spiral out of control. By responding quickly and emphatically to people’s online questions, your brand will be able to satisfy its buyers as well as build a positive online reputation with both current and future customers.
Never Neglect Negative Online Comments
Many brands make the mistake of ignoring and discounting negative content coming from their frustrated or angry customers. They do so because they believe that they won’t be attracting any more attention to them by ignoring these comments. Unfortunately, however, this cannot be further from the truth. Statistically speaking, of the roughly 82% of consumers that read online reviews whenever they consider making a purchase, as many as 97% of them will also read the brand’s response to these reviews.
In other words, informed buyers will be actively looking for negative product and/or brand reviews, no matter how hard companies will try to bury them. Addressing negative content, be it in the form of comments or reviews, will show your customers that you would be there to fix it even if they had an issue with your organization. A lack of response on the company’s part will usually come across as a confirmation of what that negative review had to say in the first place.
On a similar note, owning up to the problem and apologizing for it, even if it was not directly your fault, will often work towards diffusing the tense situation and strengthen the brand’s relationship with its customers. It will show them that your brand is honest and transparent. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes, even companies. By simply stating that you will do everything in your power to fix the problem or prevent it from happening again in the future, you will show people that you are willing to own up to your mistakes. This is a great way of building trust within the community.
Automate Your Online Reputation Management
While everything we’ve talked about up until this point highlights the importance of managing your online reputation, it should be pretty obvious by now that web and social media monitoring for brand mentions and reviews can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive job, to say the least. So, instead of manually going through search results, your social media accounts, websites, and online publications looking for both positive and negative content related to your brand name, you can save a lot of time and resources by using automated tools that remove most of the repetitive work out of online reputation management. This is also a better alternative than turning to online reputation management companies for help.
One of the simplest tools for monitoring your online presence is Google Alerts. You will simply enter your brand name in Google Alerts, and the tool will issue notifications every time your brand is being mentioned in news stories or the media. This way, you will know immediately when your brand is being discussed, allowing for quick responses, if necessary.
Another effective software is eclincher’s reputation management tool. It takes it a step further by allowing you to respond to any of these mentions in real-time and across social, news, blogs, videos, forums, reviews, and more. You’ll also understand how your customers feel about your brand by using sentiment analysis and uncover trends based on hashtags, keywords, and phrases across the web. With eclincher’s reputation management tool, you will be able to get in front of any issue and address it before it starts to really affect your business. Don’t hesitate to start your 14-day trial right now for free!