When it comes to your brand’s online reputation, you need to invest in it. Building, repairing, and managing that reputation takes constant work, but your ROI will pay out leaps and bounds.
Your brand’s online reputation should be built by performing proactive steps rather than reacting to an online reputation crisis only when it happens—which is often too late or too difficult to deal with if you didn’t have a strong foundation to building your positive online reputation.
Below are some proactive steps to undertake.
Assess your Company Values
What is your value proposition? What makes your brand, products, and services better than the competition? What qualities does your brand possess that will make your target customers gravitate toward you? These values must be communicated and should resonate well with your target customers. Businesses screw up sometimes, they all do. But if your target customers believe in your values, they will stick with you and look forward to you fixing and overcoming online reputation nightmares.
Let’s look at something many businesses don’t capitalize on: your executives’ personal brands. It’s estimated by global executives that almost 45% of a company’s market value can be attributed to the CEO’s personal brand.
Employees as Advocates
Businesses spend copious amounts of money on marketing and advertising but often fail to utilize a powerful resource they already have: employees. Each employee undoubtedly has a personal network of people who value and trust the employee’s opinion. As a direct result of that trust, any brand message the employee shares through social media has over 550% further reach than the same message brand message being shared by the business, translating to more lead generation. When it comes to conversion, research data suggests that leads generated by an employee’s social media use are 7 times more likely to convert than a lead generated by other sources.
An Opportunity for Customer Engagement
When a client or customer goes online to voice their opinion, it is an opportunity for the business to engage the commenter and show prospective clients or customers that the business values its relationships. You should routinely examine as many feedback channels as you can; responding quickly and appropriately can have a lasting impact.
Diligent Monitoring is Necessary
There are too many feedback channels to manage effectively, but monitoring the popular ones is the best place to start. Most of these websites have notification settings and will send you an email when any feedback is submitted. If you have enough feedback being posted, and you have the resources, it may be beneficial to dedicate someone just to responding to your brand’s feedback, both the good and the bad.
Eliciting Testimonials and Reviews
Some businesses, especially (but not limited to) professional services, often don’t get the reviews that other companies get. In this circumstance, it may be best to employ the services of a business that helps other businesses garner positive reviews. In some instances, these companies can even intercept negative reviews.
Responding to the negative reviews isn’t the only way to boost brand image from reviews, leveraging customer or client testimonials can help maintain a positive brand image. Whether it’s a positive review on a feedback channel or an independent solicitation, a testimonial can be the difference-maker in a client’s or customer’s decision to buy.
Leveraging Digital Content
The power of digital content is undeniable. Whether it’s through the use of press releases, whitepapers or case studies, blog posts (on your website as well as other websites), videos, or media coverage, the fact remains that buyers are investigating your business and your brand more so than ever before.
This is where your company values must be communicated to build your name as well as your chief executives’ brands that tie into the company’s overall brand messaging. This is also where testimonials, reviews and star ratings come into play—that is when you use them as part of the mix in your digital content.
In the last year, more than 50% of all B2B buyers rely on content more than they did a just a year ago. Digital content can inform or educate buyers, conveying a sense of trust and reliability for your brand.
Mitigation and Repair
Businesses face threats to their positive reputation that come in 3 categories: 1) Defamation, or falsely speaking negatively of your brand with malicious intent, 2) negative facts about your business that come into light, 3) negative opinion that people form and speak of about your business when they experience an unpleasant encounter.
For #1, taking legal action is often the last and hardest course of action, but sometimes it’s all you can do when defamation strikes. Suing the defaming party often coerces them to stop and even remove the malevolent comments. With a court order, some feedback channels will remove the damaging material, and a few others won’t get involved, suggesting you take it up with the defamer. In most cases, it’s always a good idea to hire an online reputation service to help you clean up the mess.
Sometimes businesses make mistakes; they’re run by humans. So for #2 and #3, when you encounter a situation where negative press adversely affects your reputation. Your best option for combatting this problem is to overwhelm your audience with your personalized digital content (as we discussed earlier), far offsetting the press coverage. When a client or customer posts a negative review that is truthful or has merit, react quickly. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it! Offer something in return or try asking the customer or client how you can make things right. More often than not, addressing someone’s complaint and offering to right the wrong will persuade the poster to modify the original post and turn that negative comment into something positive.
This is where the proactive steps you took could dampen the impact of any negative publicity.
Build and Manage (and Repair when Necessary)
With diligent, expeditious, and proactive actions to building your positive reputation and responding wisely to negative information, anyone can successfully maintain a positive online reputation.
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