Reputation Management – How to Protect Your Brand Online
Reputation management is the effort that a business takes to shape the public’s perception or opinion about its business. Reputation management protects a brand’s image, positively influencing customer decisions. As you’ve probably realized, consumers first check your online reviews, social media interactions, and other engagements before they buy.
With this understanding, it is essential to protect your brand online. To build a solid reputation, start by understanding the stages of reputation management. These include:
Reputation building phase
During this phase, a new business creates a foundation that allows it to grow and prosper despite competition and market fluctuations. The goal of the Reputation Building phase is to establish a strong customer base and make your business a reliable and transparent name, with an emphasis on service delivery.
When building a positive and rewarding reputation, companies should strive to offer great products at affordable prices while ensuring that customers are satisfied after every transaction.
Never before has it been so essential for businesses to strive to build a solid and positive reputation. If you want your business or organization to be successful, you absolutely need to make sure that the audience likes what they see. During this stage, the main efforts should be to:
- Create online information resources
- Establish engagement channels for customers
- Promote your business name to the community through news, events and promotions
- Give your online business a face with video marketing, creating personal profiles of the site’s customers who visit the most and share industry-related information.
- Follow-up of customer opinions to adjust the strategy if necessary
Protecting your brand online during the reputation building phase is impossible without knowing who you are up against or what they are saying about you.
Reputation management tools create a detailed profile of your company’s digital footprint, giving you valuable insight into your company’s social media presence.
Reputation maintenance phase
After successfully building a solid reputation online, it takes effort to maintain the results. A company must satisfy its customers with the services of the brand, which requires staff follow-up after each transaction.
Long-term success depends on the ability of companies to balance customer satisfaction with their business goals.
Maintaining the reputation is essential because it keeps loyal customers coming back. During this phase, companies should focus on the following areas:
- Monitor the industry to make sure you don’t fall behind
- Engage with customers and regularly monitor feedback through online social media channels
- Promote the company’s products or services for more visibility
- Keep interactions with clients professional. It is important not to express your anger towards customers on public forums
- Respond to negative comments or reviews that are false
Companies should never fuel rumors, but instead focus on building a positive reputation. By focusing on how customers are interacting with your business, you can determine what needs improvement and what is going well.
Reputation recovery step
When disaster strikes and your business is embroiled in a damaging online reputation crisis, you need to act quickly. Businesses need to protect their brand image by using the right tools to monitor what people are saying about their business or organization.
During this phase, companies should take responsibility for any errors and make the necessary changes. Companies should do the following:
- Establish an official social media presence to avoid rumors and misunderstandings
- Respond to False Reviews Quickly – Businesses should issue truth-clarifying statements explaining their side of the story or correcting any mistakes they may have made.
- If the bad reviews persist, offer coupons or discounts to entice customers to give the business another chance.
Once you’ve made mistakes and tried to correct them, it’s time to rebuild your online reputation from scratch. While some people have likely written off your business as a whole, there is still a chance for a comeback if you have a strong public relations team that can take advantage of online reputation management tools.
How to protect your brand online
To protect your brand online, you need to perform a thorough analysis of your company’s digital footprint, identify the risks and opportunities.
The first step is to create an online profile of your business on various social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. You can also add individual profiles for key team members or managers that match the image you want to project.
Staying on top of what’s being said about your business is easier these days with Google Alerts. Create a Google account and set up alerts for key terms that would cause problems for your business, such as the names of a product or competitor. Other ways to do this include:
Monitor online points of sale
Once you’ve created a digital footprint, it’s important to monitor online media where customers can find information about your business. Tools like Google Alerts can help monitor online media.
Still, you’ll also want to use social media monitoring tools that allow you to search the web for key terms and engage with customers who are discussing your brand.
Watch your competition
As part of your online brand protection efforts, you should also monitor the performance of your competition. For example, a business involved in a product recall will want to know what their competition is saying about the situation and if there is a chance of increasing sales.
If another company’s products do not meet quality standards, you can take this opportunity.
Have defined a social media policy
Your social media profiles are one area where you should have policies in order. For example, you can create a social media policy that describes what representatives of your company can and cannot say on social media sites.
You can also tell consumers how they can report their issues and ask them to share their feedback with you privately before discussing it online. Customer Service Representatives should also be trained in the use of online tools such as Twitter to avoid making mistakes that can damage your brand’s reputation.
Stay on the cutting edge of technology
The technology is used as a platform for online reputation management, so you need to stay in control. If your business is using new technology or adapting old technology for a new use, consumers will talk about it both positively and negatively.
If the negatives outweigh the positives, you may need to adjust your strategy. Also, carefully weigh the effects of incorporating new technologies.
Customers want to know that they are receiving value when working with a company. You can build this perception by offering value added services, coupons or discounts. For example, you can arrange for same day deliveries at little or no additional cost. When customers give your business another chance after a bad initial experience, it can lead to increased sales in the future.
Make sure you have quality products, reputable services and transparent transactions. This way, you won’t have to worry about negative reviews or comments on social media sites affecting your future business.
Correct errors quickly
Don’t wait for customers to give negative feedback about a bad experience or a problem with you. Instead, monitor your service delivery and feedback on your business, then fix issues quickly to prevent negative feedback from spiraling out of control. If a customer’s expectations aren’t met immediately, find out why and see if a pattern can be worked out in the future.
If possible, find a way to deal with issues away from the public. However, once the issue is resolved, educate your audience and encourage the customer to resolve it online. You can profit from this by marketing your products and showcasing your excellent customer support services. It is also essential to learn how to react to negative reviews.
Don’t get too defensive about the bad review, as this sends negative signals to consumers who are looking for information about your business before they buy. To achieve this :
- You should be very careful with online review sites
- Appreciate your users for leaving reviews, whether positive or negative
- Accept mistakes
- Do not delete comments as this violates customer rights
- Speak directly to the unhappy customer
- Deal with the problem offline
- Offer an advantageous solution
Address issues from the root source
Adverse reviews indicate issues in your business that you need to pay attention to. Problems can include:
- The way you do business
- The products or services you offer
- Pricing and shipping process
Disgruntled employees can also lead to poor service delivery. If productivity, motivation and morale are low, the quality of service may decline.
How Do Negative Reviews Affect Businesses?
A negative review here and there makes your online reputation more credible because it is impossible to have 100% positive feedback. However, be aware that repetitive negative comments can drastically affect your business reputation. Reviews can:
- Make it difficult to attract new customers
- Drive away current customers
- Lead to legal problems
- Sourcing your business’s ability to operate in the future
- Damage the morale of your employees because they feel that their work is not enough
Although it may seem complicated, you need to focus on the positive aspects of your business if you want to build a positive reputation. This includes promoting satisfied customers and showcasing successful projects. For example, you can share their reviews with the rest of your audience or feature them in a monthly newsletter.
A less stressful way to deal with negative customer reviews is to use an online reputation management company that can help correct past mistakes and influence future positive returns.
As established businesses will admit, protecting a company’s image online can be difficult. With time and effort, you will succeed in building a larger following by taking steps to protect your brand online.