Online Reputation is something which people and businesses alike have been paying an increased attention to in the recent past. It has become very important for businesses to monitor and respond to things that are being said about them online. Initially it was industries like travel and hospitality that had to really keep tabs on online reputation management, but this has now changed. Industries like Information Technology, Electronics, telecommunication and even Entertainment and Sports are paying attention to their online reputations.
Social Media in the last decade has grown to a great extent, revolutionizing the internet through its ability to connect people and bring them closer. This is true not only for people but also for brands. Social Media helps a brand reach out to their customers and communicate with them playing a significant role in online reputation management. Not only this, an increasing number of people are looking online before making a purchase. 70% of people who look for reviews online trust posts by friends and family while 90% trust reviews from other consumers. From a B2B point of view - 42% of people look up the people that they are going to do business with and 45% of people learnt something from searching online which changed their minds. What better place to be constantly looking for reviews than Social Media?
Also, a recent survey tells us that 22% of people who have had a bad experience are likely to comment about it online while only 9% of people who have had a good experience will do the same. All these numbers point to a growing trend where the reputation of a business online directly impacts bottom line revenue.
So how can businesses use social media to manage online reputation? Here are a few ways:
1) Social Media as a Search Engine Optimizer: Negative Reviews have a direct adverse impact on Sales. If the primary keyword associated with a business shows these negative results on the first page of Google and other search engines this is a worrying sign indeed. You don't want potential customers looking for your product or service to chance upon these negative reviews/comments. Luckily social media sites are high authority platforms for search engines. Create social media profiles on all major social platforms for your business. Use keywords wisely and optimize your profiles from keywords that are the most important to your business.
2) Picking the right Social Media platforms: Pick a platform that you can most effectively use to market your brand. Don't forget to take into account your target audience while choosing your social platform. For example: A finance company may chose LinkedIn to engage with their customers as it is a professional platform and people use the platform for business related activity. However, an apparel brand may use a Pinterest or Instagram for their Social Media Marketing.
3) Spread the positives: Try and share all the nice things that people are saying about your business on social media. Without being over promotional, make sure people are taking notice of the good work that you do. Respond to positive comments with "Thank you, we are glad you enjoyed the food at our restaurant". Continuing the discussion increases visibility and also shows appreciation to loyal customers. Don't be afraid to ask people for a positive recommendation. LinkedIn Company pages offer a feature called "LinkedIn Recommendations" which allow customers to recommend the products or services of a company. These recommendations are visible to anyone who views the Company Page. And remember - 1 negative review/comment is going to have less of an impact alongside 10 positive comments as opposed to 1 negative alongside 3 positives.
4) Be alive to the Negatives: Be aware of the negative things people are saying about your brand and respond to them. This has to be done carefully though. Some people cannot be reasoned with and are just out to trash your company's image. Stay clear of these people. However, genuine complaints from customers need to be addressed. Assure customers that you are doing everything that you can to address their concerns. Sometimes all people want is to be heard.
5) Listen to what customers are saying: Using Social Media to address customer queries and complaints goes a long way in building brand loyalty and trust. Customer suggestions can be a great way to improve your business and the product or service that you offer. This can be as simple as having a coffee machine in the waiting room where customers sit and wait, to more complex product centric requirements like what feature is most likely to work on the new mobile phone that you are launching. Understand what people want and then give them something that exceeds their expectation. A sure shot to success!
There are very few things in this world that travel as fast as bad news. This statement has never been as true as it is today with the internet bringing people closer and making the world a smaller place. What is your business doing to maintain a favorable online reputation? Are you using Social Media in your online reputation management activity? Let us know.
(online reputation management / shutterstock)