Here’s a quick quote from Online Reputation Management for Dummies Lori Randall Stradtman: “Where do you hide a dead body? On the third page of Google results. When you think about it, this is so true. What company wants to have negative comments or reviews spread about their company, management, customer service, or products all over the world wide web? This is why reputation management is essential online, particularly when you become the target of disparaging remarks.
Given the popularity of social media today, you never know when someone is going to make a remark (good or bad) about your company. Considering that controversy, especially anything negative, spreads like wildfire on the internet, it is important that you are able to take control of any negative comments or feedback. Otherwise, your company’s future could literally hang on a thread – or the opinion of a few who want to spread something not so favourable about your company. What can make or break a company faster than anything else? Word of mouth. So, what is reputation management?
It’s simple, really. Managing your reputation, taking the necessary steps to protect your personal or business reputation online. There are companies and agencies who provide these services; many company owners learn what steps are effective in protecting the reputation of the company, it’s employees, products, and services. Unfortunately, as the internet grows, so do opportunities for consumers and others to engage in the bashing of others, whether in a personal or business way. Today, there are even consumer forums where consumers can give their feedback on companies and their products; these forums can be your best friend, but they can also be your worst enemy. It is critical that you monitor the comments, opinions, reviews, – everything that concerns your business, and the public’s perception of it.
If you’re not quite ready to hire a company that specialises in reputation management, there are some things you can do yourself to manage your reputation and monitor the tide of opinion, including:
Channel the complainers to your own website. Most consumers want to have a voice, but what better way to get their point across than to come straight to you? Make it possible for consumers to easily find a place on your company website where they can leave private feedback. By venting their complaints directly to you, it may prevent consumers from going on highly public platforms like Facebook to rant and rave!
Address complaints immediately – every one of them. Online, even one person can cause a stir so deep it can quickly get out of control. When someone complains either directly through your company’s website or on social media, meet them head-on. You want your company to be perceived as one that does respond quickly to the good and the bad.
Don’t take on the mindset of seek and destroy. It’s tempting to simply delete or remove negative comments consumers may make on Facebook or your website, but destroying all things negative will likely only further tarnish your image. Removing or censoring negative comments or content will only diminish the trust consumers have in your company and brand.
Align yourself with the negative consumer. Once a problem has been ironed out with the consumer, if he/she wrote an article, posted on a blog or even made a negative comment on a forum/social media, ask that consumer to update the story. Or, you can take action yourself by discussing the situation on your own blog or social media, revealing how your company took action to address the problem/situation.
These are just a few ways to manage your company’s reputation. You can clearly see how important it is to quickly take action before things get out of hand! More people go online in search of products, services, and information today than ever before, so don’t let negativity be the demise of your company.
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