Business Reputation Management: Why It’s Crucial and How to Implement It

Did you know that 91% of individuals read online reviews regularly? Also, that 84% of people trust them as much as word-of-mouth recommendations from friends?

What’s more, a whopping 68% of customers come to a decision about a company after just six reviews or less. Clearly, your company’s online reputation matters.

However, if you’ve been neglecting Online Reputation Management (ORM), you’re not alone. Many of today’s business owners remain slow to act when it comes to their online brand image. Heck, even major brands can get hit hard.

Business Reputation Management

There’s More at Stake Than Yelp and Google

Consider the backlash United Airlines faced after a video surfaced, and went viral, of a passenger being dragged off a plane. Talk about a PR nightmare! United’s total lack of preparation for the ensuing media frenzy only made matters much worse. 

What’s the takeaway from all of this? Failing to plan is planning to fail when it comes to reputation management strategy.

Many businesses focus on what’s being said in reviews on Google and Yelp, but your online reputation stretches much further than these two channels alone.

What’s more, because of the advent of technology, bad reviews and complaints can now travel quicker than the speed of light. Besides bad reviews, companies must worry about Tweets, Facebook posts, negative blog posts, videos, and much more. 

So, what’s a company to do? First things first, acknowledge the importance of digital business reputation and quit trying to ignore the inevitable. 

After all, any company who serves the public or sells products will encounter a dissatisfied customer at some point.

Are you going to let this inevitability burgeon out of control into a Kraken-sized problem with the power to destroy your company, or are you going to get proactive ahead of time so that you’re prepared to weather the storm?

In other words, you can’t opt out of reputation management. So, stop hiding from it and get ready to lay the groundwork for a weather-proof reputation. While you’re at it, there are PR strategies that you can use to boost your brand’s image

It’s About More Than Your Company

When you own a company, you hold a high-profile position, whether or not you want to. In some instances, your personal reputation and image may even prove inextricable from your company’s brand. 

How do you avoid such scrutiny? Crawling under a rock certainly won’t do the trick. In fact, the lack of an online presence represents your number one vulnerability to a future “drive-by” digital defamation. 

Again, the answer is still having a proactive, positive online presence. The quest for privacy no longer represents a solid reason to avoid social media channels, and other forms of online attention. In fact, such an approach makes you a sitting duck.

So, stop under-engaging with your audience online. Come out of hiding and establish a strong internet presence. The positive infrastructure that you start building today will lead to massive dividends down the road. 

Stop Mishandling Social Media

It’s truly amazing what some business owners have said online. Especially in the heat of the moment when responding to negative reviews. 

As bad as under-engaging online is, acting offensive, pretentious, rude, dismissive, or enraged proves even worse. Not only do you look like a buffoon, but potential customers won’t be amused, or be interested in your products.

Why do business owners and entrepreneurs sometimes come off as egotistical or foolish on the internet? Because they have a deep-felt stake in their company, and they might perceive a bad review as akin to a personal attack. 

However, there are far better ways to handle negative reviews and complaints. Let’s take a look at strategies that actually work. 

Our Prehistoric Instincts Fail When It Comes to ORM

In prehistoric times, knuckle-dragging, cave-dwelling humans had three options when caught off guard by a saber-toothed tiger or cave bear, fight, flight, or freeze.

While these reactions are in-bred tendencies still found in our DNA, they’ll do you little good when it comes to ORM. Of the three listed above, the vast majority of business owners freeze up when it comes to online criticism. 

They ignore customer input that doesn’t align with the way they perceive their brand. They might go so far as to bury their head in the sand, which never worked well for ostriches either. They may also attempt to conceal the comments.

These are all REALLY poor responses to customer complaints. Why? Because they make your brand look inflexible and uncaring when it comes to customer concerns.

Remember that old adage, “The customer’s always right?” Sitting on bad reviews or complaints without doing anything sends the clear message that in your company’s book, the customer isn’t even worth responding to.

“Flight” or actively avoiding mentions of your brand and customer reviews remains another clear no-no. If you don’t know what people are saying about your brand online, then how can you possibly begin to manage your reputation?

As for fighting with customers, few actions do more to ruin your company’s reputation.

Even if you’re right, you still stand to lose. You’ll come across as a jerk that customers can’t trust and will avoid a relationship with at all cost. 

Stop Procrastinating and Start Making Amends

So, how should you proceed when it comes to dealing with disgruntled customers and maintaining your precious business reputation? Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Let’s say you just bought an amazing pair of sneakers. You love them and sing their praises, until about three weeks in when the sole starts peeling away from the shoe base on the left side.

So, you contact the company online to let them know about the problem and to give the company a chance to make amends for the incident. You may do this via Twitter, or an FAQ page run by the company. What should happen next? 

Should they ignore you? Erase your comment and shut down their social and web pages? Should they viciously berate and belittle you online for not knowing how to properly wear their shoes?

Let’s agree right here and now that these are all unacceptable responses. Especially since you initially loved the brand, spoke positively of it, and simply wanted a “fix” to a problem created through faulty craftsmanship.

The Better Approach

What’s the better approach? Always assume that your customers are right. Consider their feedback, whether positive or negative, as a chance to better understand them and their needs.

Look at reviews and comments of any persuasion as a means to better hone your company’s customer experience, products, and services. 

Also, use this space to authentically and sincerely apologize for the issue they’ve encountered and to offer a way to make amends. 

Use Negative Online Feedback as an Opportunity to Build Trust and Credibility

If your customers care enough to provide you with feedback, then you should care enough to respond. After all, we live in a time-strapped world where the last thing any of us have is enough hours in the day. 

Your response to criticism on social media could read as simply as, “Hey there! We saw your comment and would like to assist you with this! Could you DM us at @_________ to get started?”

Not only does this pave the way for a positive social media customer service outcome, but it also lets other customers know that your brand cares.

Turn Negatives into Positives

When you look at negative feedback as a chance to connect with your customers and build trust, you stand to win.

Credibility is earned through experience, so always work to make your customer’s experiences with your brand exceptional. Even within the context of a product failure or customer service disappointment. 

Showing your customers that you’ve seen their feedback, take it seriously, and are working to mitigate the issue, will make your online reputation soar. Your brand will gain a reputation for caring, responsibility, and innovation. 

Great brands forge their reputation by turning the negative into the positive. Do the same through effective ORM, and you’ll enjoy increased brand loyalty and overall rapport with your customers. 

Tools to Help Your Brand Listen Better

Ever seen a Western movie where a character puts his ear to a railroad line? The physics behind this involved “feeling” the vibrations of the train’s approach long before hearing any of its actual “noise” on the air. 

Maybe cowboys are a dying breed, and Western films have fallen out of fashion, but a core truth still remains. You need to press your ear to the internet’s version of rail lines and start listening. 

Begin by setting up Google Alerts. That way, you can let Google do the work for you. It’ll send you notifications anytime your brand gets mentioned. 

You should also consider investing in online brand monitoring tools such as Mention. Mention lets you know what’s going down when it comes to people talking about your brand, products, and services.

This tool, in concert with Google Alerts, will provide you with a holistic understanding of how your brand’s reputation shapes up. That way, you can get to work staunching negativity and buttressing up your reputation. 

What You Say About Your Brand Matters

Sometimes we focus so much on external reviews and comments that we forget to consider the messages that we’re sending through content. What you say about your company and products has a huge impact when it comes to your brand rep.

That means ensuring that all of the content that you put out there passes the test when it comes to relatability, relevancy, and audience fit.

Pay close attention to what you say via social media, your blog, your website, and your other channels. Watch out for trending words and hashtags, too.

Before using them, research their origins to ensure they align with your brand’s values and mission. When in doubt, don’t use them. It’s that simple.

Recovering from a ruined online reputation proves far more difficult than building a positive one in the first place. Use care, intuition, and sensitivity to your target audience’s needs before inundating them with new content. 

Don’t Slack When It Comes to Blogging

Of course, because putting out content requires thought and care, it means that avoiding it is a huge mistake. Your brand needs a blog. Like ORM, it’s not an option anymore. 

Not only does blogging help with local SEO, but it also gives you the home-court advantage when you do have to face off against an irate, no-holds-barred customer. 

A solid SEO strategy will help your company’s content outrank nasty complaints and reviews. It also provides a place for you to respond constructively to open hostility and even defamation. 

Because many local businesses have yet to start blogging, your blog will have a solid advantage when done right. After all, you snooze, you lose.

Consistent blogging will make your company top dog when it comes to search rankings. It will also provide you with a means of earning trust and respect from customers. 

Make the Investment in Business Reputation Management

As you can see, business reputation management represents one of the most crucial aspects of promoting your brand’s credibility and trustworthiness. Since ORM is no longer an option, it’s time to get proactive.

Of course, effective reputation management represents a full-time job. It quickly becomes tricky and complicated, and probably isn’t what drove you to start a business in the first place. So, do yourself a favor, leave it to the experts. 

Invest in your ORM and get a team of experts on your side who understand reputation management strategies inside and out. Then, sit back and watch your sales and brand loyalty skyrocket. 

Ready for more tips that’ll put your company ahead of the game? Check out our guide to maximizing customer retention now. 

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Owner and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry. With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

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About the author...

Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast - Destin, FL, founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization / and PR campaigns, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry.

With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

Jason Hall 5Channels.com

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