As a business owner or manager, you likely plan for every aspect of your business and your marketing plan. Why should your online reputation management be any different? This is especially the case in cultures where company image ranks very high in importance. Planning ahead and being proactive is much better than waiting until a problem arises before attending to your online reputation. Proactive management can be as simple as using social media monitoring tools, regular media and press releases, and even your own company blog.
There are many reasons you should be proactive about your online reputation instead of reactive. (1)It is much easier to fix or diminish the effects of negativity online if you have already built a positive image. (2)Tending to your online reputation also helps establish your presence which can lead to an increase in sales. (3) Establishing ways to engage with your audience allows you to react quickly and easily to negative comments.
Diminished Effect of Negativity
Once you already have built up your own content and presence online, a problem does not carry the same amount of weight as if it were among the only information about your company online. Press releases, company news, and posts on your company blog are all simple ways to establish a positive presence for your company on the web. With your company blog and social media accounts, where you control the conversation, you can establish your company's persona and reputation. Use these channels to establish your company as an expert in the field, sharing valuable information and quality content. Share positive stories about fundraising, community involvement, employee success stories, anything positive. Offer helpful advice, product guides, useful content about your industry. Now when your reputation is proactively built, and a negative issue arises, it will have a diminished effect because it is just one problem in a sea of positive examples. Capitalize on your website and social channels where you control the conversation by adding content constantly.
In most cases, a customer complaint that is addressed quickly and correctly can turn a negative into a positive because your company will look better for caring and addressing the problem. If the reputation management problem is a major crisis issue, it is not as easy to clean up, but having your own platform and reacting quickly are both keys to resolving the problem. Never ignore a problem, it will multiply and may never go away. In fact, it will usually get worse and make it more difficult to resolve the longer time goes by.
Online Social Presence Attributes to Increase in Sales
Your customers are searching for you online, even if you don't sell anything online. All types of organizations from local businesses to large retailers need to have an online presence. It can be a mobile users searching for a nearby restaurant or hair salon, or a consumer looking for a particular product. If these searchers don't find you, they will find your competition instead. Multiple instances of web presence for your company will lead to more visitors and more sales. In addition to your website and Facebook page where you control and guide the conversation, look for additional social channels, local directories, review sites, related industry blogs, etc. These all make up the pieces of the puzzle for consumers searching for what you are selling. Establish an online presence in multiple places by claiming online listings with Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yellow Pages, and other community pages. Search your company name routinely and keep any listings up to date. Also employ the use of social media monitoring tools to be kept abreast of what is being said about your company.
Social Channels Allow You to Engage with Your Audience
Developing social channels only for the purpose of preventing a negative online reputation is not exactly the way to go about this process either. Social networks are there for your business to be social with consumers and engage them. If you establish your social channels, blog, and website only for the purpose of lying in wait to respond to a negative comment, you are missing the point entirely. It is the conversation, content, and overall positive reputation that you build that defends against negativity. Reward your fans and followers for positive interaction on your social channels. If they share their experience with your company, it is more often positive than not and a chance to spread the word to new audiences. Word of mouth marketing on social media is one of the best referrals your business can hope for. Consumers believe reviews from friends and even consumers they do not know over advertising published by companies. You can expect that most of the engagement with consumers on social media is going to be positive, especially if you reward their positive interactions through online contests, special offers for fans, and providing informative and entertaining content.
Even more important is having the ability to respond to a negative situation immediately. In most cases, a customer complaint that is addressed quickly and correctly can turn a negative into a positive because your company will look better for caring and addressing the problem. If the reputation management problem is a major crisis issue, it is not as easy to clean up, but having your own platform and reacting quickly are both keys to resolving the problem. Never ignore a problem, it will multiply and may never go away. In fact, it will usually get worse and make it more difficult to resolve the longer time goes by.
Proactive vs. Reactive Approach and Your Company
Being proactive instead of reactive about your company's online reputation means creating your online presence and controlling it instead of letting customers control the conversation. Many companies make the mistake of thinking that setting up an online presence opens the way for consumers to post negative things about your company and cause a reputation problem. This is a mistake because customers and other people will likely be talking about their experience with your company online whether you are there to hear it or not. But other potential customers will be listening and taking note. Word of mouth and consumer reviews drive such a large portion of sales today, you cannot afford to not be online steering the conversations and monitoring the discussions. You will need a person on your marketing team devoted to reputation management; it can be part of the responsibility of a social media specialist, or a social media monitoring company. Of course, it is also worth mentioning that a hearty customer service program will limit the amount of social media and reputation management issues that come up.