It’s a well-known fact that people are more likely to tell their social circles about a negative experience than a positive one- bad news travels fast. Couple that with the major influence online reviews have on purchasing decisions and you’ve got yourself a losing equation. This is the right around the time when brands or public figures decide to call up seasoned reputation managers looking for a quick fix to make it all go away. And although online crisis management tactics could stop some of the bleeding, the wound needs time to heal.
To understand reputation management, one has to think of it like insurance: you don’t think about it when you don’t need it, but you’re really grateful to have it when you’re in trouble.
Online reputation management is relatively new, most small to medium businesses in the region have just come to terms (and budgets) with hiring agencies, freelancers or in-house experts as community managers to develop their social media strategy and manage their day-to-day online presence. While that is essential, it’s just a component of the overall long-term strategy and effort it entails to truly control an online reputation.
When was the last time you tracked or monitored your brand’s reputation? (No, the occasional Google search doesn’t count.) Are you in control of those results?
If not, here are a couple of tactics that you should be aware of.
1. Take a reactive approach rather than a proactive one.
Here’s why: SEO is a science; tactics should be brand-specific, based on a unique formula of content, keywords, links, and of course a thorough understanding of how search algorithms work. All of this needs time. So when a popular blogger writes a negative review about your product, it’s not by coincidence that it ranks only third after your website and Facebook page- it means that you didn’t do your homework. This can have adverse implications on potential clients or prospective stockholders searching for you online. Make no mistake, content can’t be deleted completely, but had you maintained a stronghold on your search rank, that review would have barely made it to page three of Google.
2. Dismissing a negative review or incident.
Brands do this in the hopes that it will simply blow over, especially if the complaint is from a credible source or influential blogger. Minimize the damage by responding responsibly and acting fast, before the incident spreads and be- comes costly. Instead of simply apologizing and offering an unhappy customer a replacement or a gift card, you could find yourself potentially spending thousands on an online and offline PR campaign to shift consumer perception as a result of that single online post. Your response will also reflect accessibility and awareness on your part and will give audiences enough information make informed decisions and avoid misconceptions.
3. Counter negative reviews by encouraging feedback.
This can be done by publishing, sharing, and linking to positive reviews and online testimonials about your brand. This is a win-win for both the brand and the bloggers or reviewers who would like to drive traffic to their sites, broaden their audience and increase their followers.
4. Register your own domain and others that could potentially harm you.
That means if that .com .me and .co version of your domain name are available, purchase them all! This way no one else will. Seems pretty straightforward right? Well you’ll be surprised to learn how many brands and public figures have missed that opportunity opting for social media platforms alone instead.
5. Choosing the right keywords.
You want to make sure that when people search for you they find you, therefore this should be done in coordination with your content strategy. But watch out, this can be a slippery slope. Google is very well aware of tactics such as over-stuffing keywords to “cheat” the system. They can get you demoted in rankings or even completely removed. And well, if you’re not on Google than you basically don’t exist online!
6. Using the same account handle on all your social media platforms.
For example if you go by the name of CompanyXMiddleEast on Facebook, make sure you do the same for Twitter, Instagram, and all of your other platforms. This will allow people to find you faster and give you a more official presence especially if you’re a relatively new brand.
7. Use social media monitoring tools to track.
This means tracking everything that is being written about your brand out there, such as Google Alert, WHOSTALKING, and Social Mention to name a few.