Is your online reputation important to you? If it is, you agree with 97% of business owners. They want to maintain a positive online reputation.
Is your company’s online reputation not impressive? It’s time to act. Here’s how to improve company reputation online.
What Is an Online Company Reputation?
What are people saying about you? Your online reputation is the sum of the expressed thoughts, reviews, idle comments, and chatter about your company online. It might be fair or unfair but it’s there for all to see.
This reputation affects how your stakeholders perceive your brand. Customers, suppliers, shareholders, competitors, and your wider community all perceive you in the light of this online reputation. It has to matter to you.
How you relate to this reputation is your reputation management strategy. An important distinction is to consider what elements of this strategy need to be reactive and which need to be proactive.
Reactive Reputation Management
Many businesses recognize the importance of the internet to their business success. Perhaps your business engages in e-commerce as one of several sales channels. At the very least you have a website with information about your company, its products, and information about how to make contact.
Even a business that engages with the internet at this naive level has an online reputation. A negative comment on a review site might raise concerns and even provoke a response from you. A disparaging comment by an employee about your company in a social media context may also lead to action against the employee.
These are reactive approaches to reputation management. They don’t begin to provide the kind of protection against threats to your business that may lie ahead. Nor do they recognize the potential opportunities a great online reputation could afford you.
Proactive Reputation Management
A proactive approach to reputation management recognizes the threats and opportunities and seeks to engage with them. As with any business strategy, it’s about being clear about where you are starting from and where you want to get to. Once you have that defined you can work out a plan to get from one to the other.
Social media, Google search results, online reviews and the various other aspects of the internet landscape are the territory. Here are some of the approaches that will help your proactive reputation management strategy pay dividends.
It’s cynical to think that your online reputation is only about perception. A constructed thing, subject to the vagaries of the ether that is the internet. An insubstantial thing that you can only influence by PR stunts and social media hype.
A good reputation should and can be based on being good at what you do. Having good products, serving customers well and delivering on your promises. Why shouldn’t that be a starting point for your reputation management strategy?
Being good at what you do provides people with the reason why they talk about you. Your reputation can be based on happy customers sharing their good fortune at finding you, with others.
Listen to Customers
If your customers are saying good things about you, you should listen to that. Be encouraged by it and actively respond to it. Acknowledging, thanking and passing on good feedback helps build your reputation because it started with a customer.
If you have negative feedback, keep listening. Do something about the problem. Make that customer happy and make sure you aren’t disappointing the customers who have not complained, commented negatively or are helping to build a negative reputation for you, offline.
If you care about your online reputation act as if you do. Make genuine attempts to make amends for failings. Say you’re sorry.
People respond to that. It shows you care. A mistake is forgivable but not caring about it isn’t.
They’re talking about you whether you’re present in the room or not so you might as well be present. Hear what’s being said. Contribute to the discussion and learn how to turn it to your advantage.
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have their place in the market. Find out where your customers and potential customers are and join them.
Monitor Social Media
Having a presence is not enough. It’s important to actively monitor social media activity. Having an account is not the same as monitoring activity.
Set yourself goals for generating followers. Supply content that they value and get feedback from them about what they like. Interact with them and generate dialogue, discussion, and interest.
A web presence and some social media activity don’t build brands for your products. You may need to support any products that have a brand name other than your company name. Consider providing them with a web presence of their own to give them visibility.
Your People’s Reputation Matters
When your people are identified with your company they have an influence on your company reputation. A negative association can be damaging so be proactive about minimizing the risks.
Be clear with your people right from their orientation training that you do not tolerate any negative comments about your company on social media. Bringing the company into disrepute is a serious disciplinary matter.
If you have senior people who are associated with your brand then be protective about their reputations too. Support them with advice and proactive action to enhance their online reputations. Take remedial action if they are the subject of negative comments.
Encourage Online Reviews
Build your reputation by encouraging online reviews. Suggest it to satisfied customers as part of your after-sales process.
Use Google My Business and Facebook to spread the good word about you. Learn how to get yelp reviews.
Respond to Online Reviews
Whenever you get reviews, respond to them. A company that makes a response, even if the review is poor, looks better than one that just ignores reviews. Get a good reputation for how you react to complaints and poor reviews.
Your company reputation may be at risk. Act now to limit the damage. Don’t miss out on the opportunities either.
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