4 Powerful Strategies for Managing Your Online Reputation

bobtripathi
bob tripathi Founder & CEO, Instant E-Training

Posted on April 9th 2011

4 Powerful Strategies for Managing Your Online Reputation

True story: In 2006, as the keynote speaker was delivering their high powered speech at a tech conference in Japan, a Dell laptop suddenly burst into flames. Pictures and video footage of the burning computer became viral overnight and spread like wildfire across the internet. Thousands of bloggers started bashing the company and demanding they apologize. In a matter of days, the company’s hard earned reputation and goodwill in the marketplace was in jeopardy as Dell issued the biggest product recall in computer history.

 

Michael Dell started his computer company in his dorm room and transformed it into a multi-billion dollar company. He spent years building his legendary empire and suddenly, the company’s reputation was at stake thanks to the power of Social Media.

Bad things Happen to Good Companies

The internet is filled with stories of companies and individuals whose reputations have been in ruins overnight. Honest businesses fall prey to manipulating competitors out to ruin them and steal market share in return. Many businesses have experienced, through no fault of their own, scheming competitors bad mouthing and spreading false rumors about them through social media. These days, the means to spread rumors about a business are many and as a result, it is imperative for businesses to proactively manage their online reputation.

In a recent client survey by Bazaarvoice, it was reported that the number one way consumers make a decision to buy a product or service is through online reviews and ratings. Online reviews are not just for sites like Amazon or Yelp. Today, a customer can research a product or service just about anywhere including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and of course, within the dreaded search engine result pages. As such, business owners need to ensure that their company reviews are clean. By clean, I mean over 90% of reviews for your products and services should be positive. Of course, every now and then you will have that rogue customer who is not satisfied with your product or service and even though you may have gone the extra mile to satisfy him or her, it just didn’t cut it for them. But that’s the cost of doing business.

Reputation Management online is not as tough as one would imagine and can be broken down into four solid pieces. Monitor, Listen, Respond and Amplify. Let’s look at each one of them:

Pillars of Reputation Management

 

 

Monitoring your Reputation: 
The starting point of online reputation management requires businesses to begin proactively monitoring conversations happening about their brand. Automated keyword searches can quickly reveal the topics and themes that customers (and competitors) are talking about. Companies often feel overwhelmed in the beginning due to the large volume of content on the internet. But proper configuration and tweaking of keywords can help tremendously. Let me give you an example. Discover Financial Services, simply known in the market as Discover, should not set up a keyword search like “Discover.” I’m sure you can you imagine the amount of content that would be delivered against this word Discover! Reputation monitoring can overwhelm a company if not done right.

Listening to your Customers:
In this critical piece of online reputation management, a business needs to separate the noise from the real conversations taking place on social media about their products or services. The real conversations can be separated into two distinct categories; those that are actively talking about your business, and those that may warn of a storm on the horizon. The latter category requires you to listen carefully and diffuse the storm before it gains strength. Most social media managers categorize and separate these conversations into those that need “immediate attention” and those that require “active listening.” This allows them to be prepared and to strategize ways to diffuse the situation before the conversation turns into an ugly rant against their brand. Listening requires a careful plan of action with a fine balance between coming across as over protective and defensive and simply monitoring your reputation.

Responding is an Art:
Effectively responding and diverging crises is an art. You don’t want your communication to sound like a well honed PR message. People complain on social media channels because they are not satisfied, and they are usually hoping for a resolution. Always be sympathetic, and put yourself in the customer’s position.  This does not mean that you should allow a customer to take your brand hostage while they are ranting against your company. However, responding means first analyzing what went wrong and how you can make it right. Most large companies follow a certain set of processes to ensure that they are responding to customer complaints on social media in a fair manner. These set processes can be setting up special email groups, hiring additional employees in the customer resolution area, and coming up with special offers to win these customers back.

Amplify your Wins:
I have seen many companies go to great lengths to satisfy an angry customer on a social media platform. It is not uncommon for complaining customers to receive complimentary gift certificates, free services, heavy discounts, you name it, in response to their public complaints.  At the end, both the customer and company are happy and all is forgotten.

A very critical piece that companies often neglect is to amplify the positive actions the company took to satisfy the angry customer. Traditional customer service folks are not trained on how to amplify positive remarks. This onus typically falls on the social media managers to let the world know that your company goes great lengths to satisfy their customers. Amplification of positive experiences with your brand or services goes a long way in the social media world. This amplification is not just leaving a comment behind but finding strategic, meaningful ways to communicate to the rest of the world. This is the art of social media.

These are just some of the high level strategy pieces that a company can employ to manage their online reputation. 

 

 

bobtripathi

bob tripathi

Founder & CEO, Instant E-Training

Bob Tripathi is the Founder of online training company called http://www.instantetraining.com. Prior to founding Instantetraining.com, Bob spent number of years working at companies like Sears, Discover championing SEO, PPC, and Social Media initiatives. With over 10 years of digital marketing experience, Bob has worked with businesses of all sizes helping them generate revenues and drive double digit growth through internet marketing. Bob is a regular speaker at industry conferences and is also co-founder of SEMPO Chicago Working Group. Follow him @BobTripathi
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Comments

Posted on April 10th 2011 at 3:09AM

You summed it up beautifully, Bob. I guess the issue of online reputation management can be very stressful and requires ongoing montoring. Unforteunatley, one bad review generated more buzz than a 1000 positive ones! sad but true.

If there's one thing I would add to your post is how to identify action worthy brand reviews:

  1. Commonality: When  the same positive/negative pattern is mentioned repeatitively, then you must pay attention and take appropriate action.
  2. Descriptiveness: action worthy brand reviews are detailed and descriptive. They must be. Otherwise, you have nothing to work with. In my humble opinion, 3-words negative reviews should be tossed in nearest waste basket! Something like "Atrousious! you suck!" gives you nothing to work with and trust me, readers will also disregard these types of reviews becuase they are looking for valid reason as to why or why not they should use your services.
  3. Does it make business sense: no one knows your brand's  strengths and weakness better than you. So, if you read a review that made business sense, act on it immediately.

Yes, online reputation management can be  very a challenging and duanting task but if done correctly, it will payoff termendously. Thanks  Bob and good luck to all  :) 

Posted on April 10th 2011 at 3:16AM

Bob, great post. Feel free to add my new startup, awesomize.me as an alternative option as we just finalized our tagline which is "awesomize.me: your personal and corporate reputation management leveraging the power of the community" :-)

Here are my 2cents on this entire social media and reputation management thing

Facebook and other social media channels have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

It’s time for social media to enter into a new category, a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections. To enable us to Distinguish Your Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

I hope I can accomplish such a mission with my new gig, awesomize.me. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The company helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

Feel free to create your page and one for  your company to see how it works.

I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Cheers
Elias
CEO & Founder
awesomize.me

Posted on April 29th 2011 at 3:03AM

I would like to thank you for the important info presented here !  

It is important that whoever is interested in search engine reputation management will read it . 

Sincerely , 

Timothy Weissbrot 

 

 

 

Posted on May 24th 2011 at 11:36AM

Online reputation management is essential to any business trying to establish itself on the internet.  Negative mention can quickly spiral into a torrent of negative feedback and will damage your company's reputation quickly if not addressed. 

With the advent of organizations practicing "reputation damage" against their competitors, it has become essential to remain one step ahead of any potential threats, this can only be achieved by staying up to date on the various online discussion platforms where people will be likely to discuss your organization, as well as what your competitotrs are doing and saying online.  The recent news coverage surrounding Facebook's attempt to damage the reputation of Google provide an illustration of the aformetnioned point. See this article for more information about Facebook's campaign against Google: http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailybeast/20110512/ts_dailybeast/14045_facebook...

Online reputation management is essential, as organizations will continue to practice and embrace "reputation damage" against competitiors.

 

About Me

Posted on June 20th 2011 at 8:14AM

Heba is right about the negative comment repetition. I usually set up a Google Alerts for my brand name and instantly get notified whenever someone writes something about me online. I try to respond to negative reviews and any other kind of <a href="http://www.rexxfield.com/services.php">internet defamation</a> as soon as possible, and always try to refute their points and claims with evidence.