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Reputation Management: How to Make Bad News about Your Brand Vanish Off the Face of the Internet
Posted on December 13th 2012
We live in the times of extreme transparency and unprecedented abundance of communication media. A half-finished sentence by a public figure may become known to millions in a matter of minutes due to the multiple social platforms that help spread the news nowadays.
So, when it comes to managing your personal or corporate online reputation, there are just too many bases that need to be covered. And what if a nasty review or a disgruntled ex-employee’s rant leeks onto the Web and hurts your company’s public image?
Of course, it's much wiser to take preventive measures rather than deal with the consequences of an online PR catastrophe. However, if it does happen after all, here are some tips to help you successfully make up for the damage caused.
Go from negative to positive
Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempest. - Epicurus
Experienced marketers know that with each complaint or a negative review arises an opportunity for asserting your company's good name. All you have to do is to know how to steer discussion in the right direction.
If it's a legit complaint and your company is really at fault, acknowledge the problem, talk about how you’re planning to deal with it (only if it is really possible to solve!) and counter-balance the negative feedback with some facts about your company that make it look really good.
Some of the biggest no-no's here:
- lying or denying the obvious (cover-up lies usually have an adverse effect);
- being overly apologetic;
- coming up with unsatisfactory excuses that make it look like you are hiding something;
- making the promises you are not planning to fulfill.
A needle in a haystack: bury bad content
They say it all started out with a big bang. But, what I wonder is, was it a big bang or did it just seem big because there wasn't anything else to drown it out at the time? - Karl Pilkington
Sometimes, you might have to deal with the consequences of a brand's reputation management gone wrong. For instance, when there was another manager dealing with it before you got called in. So, if there are any old negative reviews online that you cannot successfully respond to or remove (obviously), the only option you have is to bury that bad content under piles of good content.
See what keywords the negative feedback ranks for and rank your content for the same keywords. For instance, if someone wrote a review about your business titled "Company XYZ is scam", ask a loyal customer to write a review titled "Company XYZ: scam or not scam?" and make it rank for respective keywords.
It is also recommended to buy such domains as "CompanyXYZScam" in advance in order to rob potential ill-wishers and unethical competitors of their chance to hurt your business through deliberate defamation.
Can you beat Google Autocomplete?
A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was. – Joseph Hall
Many companies have suffered because of Google Autocomplete. In his article at Search Engine Land, Brian Patterson writes that typing "McDonalds" into the search box still triggers "coffee lawsuit" as a suggestion (almost 18 years after the accident!).
So, is there a way to say good-bye to Google's algorithmic prompting that could be hurting your business?
According to Google, autocomplete is "based on other users' search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google." The company goes on to say that "the autocomplete data is updated frequently to offer fresh and rising search queries."
So, apparently, for a keyword to get suggested it has to have a decent number of searches or there has to be a spike in search activity for that term. Besides, there has to be a fair number of results pages for it on Google.
At the same time, the already mentioned article by Brian Patterson describes another approach to dealing with unwanted autocomplete suggestions. The study by Go Fish Digital revealed that there were typical "values" Google would often use to suggest search terms for businesses, for instance: careers, wiki, review and others.
So, a plan for ousting undesired keywords from Google Autocomplete could involve creating certain types of pages for your biz (for example, a Wikipedia page or a page about available careers) and boosting the searches for particular search terms (which can be achieved in different ways).
That incident ruined my reputation for 10 years. Get one Beatle drunk and look what happens! - Harry Nilsson
Sometimes people may not trust your word just because you're not much of an authority for them. To establish yourself as one, you can resort to different means of creating a positive online image for your brand:
- make your site rank well in the search results for your brand name;
- make your company news show up on Google/Yahoo news (by regularly sending press releases to respective websites);
- use the author tag whenever possible and increase your author rank;
- take part in the industry's conferences and events
- engage in research and advancement of knowledge in your field.
Promoting positive sentiment about your brand
Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs.
Anthony J. D'Angelo
I'm sure you're not new to the "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" concept. Quite often, people say good things about your company online. When they do, return the favor by retweeting their tweet, reposting their Facebook post or promoting their fan video on YouTube.
However, the trick is to actually find those positive comments among everything that's being posted on the World Wide Web every day, when only Twitter accounts for 250 million new posts daily. So, how does one do it?
Not long ago, we put together an Online Reputation Management Guide that talks about how you can easily keep track of positive (as well as neutral and negative) feedback about your brand or product in the social media on a daily basis. Do check it out.
Creating good reputation for your brand or company lies not only in projecting a good image for it online, but also in dealing with critical situations when a negative review or a bad comment involving your brand appears on the Web.
When that happens, there are different ways you can tackle the issue, from turning negative feedback into positive, making it vanish among lots of new good comments and reviews that appear, establishing yourself as an authority in your niche, and others.