Reputation Management: What It Is, Why You (Desperately) Need It to Get Ahead
You have started a business in what you felt was a thriving industry. You have the right product, and there’s a need for it. But no matter what you do, you don’t seem to be able to attract or retain customers.
The issue you are facing could be all about reputation management.
Studies suggest that up to 50% of your market value depends on the reputation of the company. How can you go about ensuring that you build a good reputation, whether online or offline?
We’ll explore the concept in greater detail below.
What is Reputation Management?
The online platform has given customers unlimited ways to air their grievances about a business. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if your customer service is not top-notch, customers will complain. How you handle the negativity will determine how the final consumer views your company.
Sometimes you’ll find that there are people who seem out to tarnish your company’s image. In the online space, negative reviews or malicious content will spread very quickly. If you don’t take appropriate steps to handle it, it could result in irreparable damage.
You also have to be careful about what your competitors are doing. There are instances where unsavory business people will attack their competitors on the online platform. Without warning, you could find a lot of fake news about your business doing the rounds on social media.
You, therefore, need to step in and take appropriate action. Wishing the problem away is not an option. There are certain steps you can take to manage your offline and online reputation. We’ll explore some of the ways soon, but first, we’ll discuss why it’s so crucial.
Importance of Managing Your Business Reputation
According to a local consumer review survey, the average customer will read up to ten online reviews before they feel they can trust a business. Up to 57% will only use a company that has a 4-star rating and above. A business can therefore not ignore the impact damaging or negative reviews could have.
Digital reputation management is especially important because information spreads very fast on the online platforms. It is, therefore, crucial that you put into place strategies to manage your reputation.
But before we go into actionable tips, let’s understand why you need to manage your business reputation.
1. It Allows You to Put Your Best Foot Forward
Your reputation is how people view you.
In the digital age, in a matter of minutes, your business will suffer a major blow due to a tweet or comment by a disgruntled customer. The more you ignore the customer’s issues, the angrier they will get, and the more vicious they can become.
With the right strategy in place, you can be the go-to company for solutions. You can develop a reputation as a company that cares about its customers and will never ignore their issues. It’ll be easy to see the impact on the bottom line because you’ll be able to convert many potentials into lifelong customers.
2. Credibility and Trust Building
No business can say they are safe from negative reviews. Some may be well-meant, while others could be an attack on a business by malicious people. You may lose some customers, but with the right strategy in place, you can get them back.
By handling the situation well, you can build credibility and trust in your company. Make your customers feel like they are part of the process by acknowledging them every time they give feedback.
3. Allows You to Understand Your Customer Needs
Customer reviews and feedback will give you a simple way of understanding what their needs are.
Customers are happy to give feedback on what they like and what they don’t. While you may not be able to respond to every issue that comes up, you may want to pay special attention to recurring ones.
It’s the recurring complaints that tend to escalate, and before you know it, you are trying to put out brush fires. Use complaints as an opportunity to improve upon your offering, while building brand loyalty among customers who feel that you appreciate them.
4. Leads Generation
A good online reputation will result in more leads, which you can then turn into conversions. Many people will do an online search before they decide to purchase, and they’re more likely to buy from a company that has a good brand reputation.
If you have an online store, ensure that the user experience is good so that your customers refer others to you. Referrals are a great way to sell products and services. A third-party endorsement is stronger than any paid marketing initiative you will ever undertake.
5. Opens up New Business Opportunities
You may find an opportunity for new business by really understanding what your customers are complaining about.
Sometimes the customer could be saying that your product could work so much better, if it came with A or B. Yet you don’t have the additions they want. This can result in a great business opportunity for you.
Steps to Business Reputation Management
We cannot say this enough — the modern business cannot thrive by being reactive.
You always have to be on your toes so that you’re up-to-date with whatever is happening. You also need to set in place strategies that will help you deal with anything that would hurt your business.
You can summarize the steps to reputation management as below:
- Have a proper understanding of the platforms your customers use, and how they could influence your business
- Be active on these platforms while having full control of your business pages
- Check out reviews, flag inappropriate content, respond to any feedback
- Have a team in place to do the monitoring and reporting
- Develop a reputation management strategy that will be the guidebook going forward
Now let’s explore these steps in a little more detail below.
1. Address Negative or Incorrect Information
The normal human being will believe most of the things they read on the internet. Bad news will spread fast on online platforms.
You also need to remember that many people will do an online search before they purchase a product or service. If more often than not they stumble across negative reviews about your company, they will not feel inclined to buy from you. You, therefore, have to put in place measures that will allow you to control what is online.
Don’t ignore any comments. If you do, it could quickly get out of hand. By responding in a timely manner, you take control of the situation and can determine what content you send out. Don’t be defensive, angry, or insulting; address the issues without getting emotional.
Customers are likely to trust a company that responds rather than ignores them.
2. Try and Avoid the Legal Routes
The legal system is one method you can use to resolve slander cases. However, it can be difficult to prove slander, especially if there is a basis for the opinion. The case may also drag on for a long time, and you cannot be sure that you will win.
If your opponent decides to run a case in the public eye, it could be especially damaging to your reputation. Only pursue the court system if all else fails. Therefore, do your best to avoid legal routes.
3. Keep an Ear to the Ground
Online reputation management requires that you are constantly in the know on what is happening around the internet. Many companies now have teams whose sole responsibility is to monitor social media and online platforms. Ignorance is no defense — saying you did not know what was transpiring on the online platform is not an excuse. Just be alert.
Google alerts will notify you anytime your name comes up. They are easy to set up and free. Don’t wait for a situation to spiral out of hand before you try and resolve it.
4. Be Active on the Social Media Platforms
Being active on social media platforms will make your business more visible to anyone online. It’ll require that you dedicate time and resources to regularly updating the sites. You will also need to ensure that you promptly address anyone who may have a question or issue.
Make sure you understand who the target market is, what messages you want to push out to them, how often you will post, and how you will track the feedback. Have a company policy in place that guides how your employees interact on your, and their social media pages.
Even when they are out of work, your employees must be watchful about what they post because they are your brand ambassadors.
5. Pay Attention to the Local Review Sites
There are many local review sites, including Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and Facebook, among others.
Such sites can let you know what people are saying about you, and you need to be very keen with tracking them. If you find any negative reviews, quickly address them, and reassure your customers that you are doing everything within your power to address their issues.
6. Make Blogs Part of Your Strategy
Blogging has become an essential online marketing tool. By taking advantage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can increase your awareness in the market. Post relevant content, and link the posts to all your social media platforms.
Use your networks, friends, and family members to share the blogs. You will quickly get a reputation as an industry authority. People are also likely to come to your site as the first source of information.
Schedule your posts so that people always know when you will post content. Make sure the information is factual by doing proper research.
7. Make Sure You Rank Favorably in the Search Engines
If you type in your business name on a search engine and you are nowhere, you need to resolve this as quickly as possible. Check whether your website is indexed if you have a Google penalty and whether you have any backlinks to your website.
Having a good social media profile and linking your pages to your website will also help.
Likewise, linking to another website like directories or forums helps. You will have a higher chance of getting a good ranking in the SERPs. There are tools online that allow for messages syndication on all your social media platforms.
8. Fix Anything that Mentions Your Brand Negatively
It’ll pay to actively monitor online platforms to check where there is a mention of your company.
There’re online tools which will make the process easy for you. Be especially careful about websites that have a lot of traffic. If you find a negative review for an issue that you may have already resolved, you can ask them to update the information.
9. Consider Using Influencers
The use of influencers in marketing has gained a lot of traction.
While before it was mainly around beauty and fashion, now you’ll find many brands reaching out to these influences. Influencers are a great way to boost the reputation of your company, expand your reach, give you credibility, and allow for growth promotion strategies.
Influencers have a reputation to maintain, and they also have very loyal audiences. By linking their brand to yours, you will get a lot of Goodwill through the sharing of posts, growing an organic community on your social media pages, among others.
Grow Your Business with Online Reputation Management
Any entrepreneur will tell you that a lot goes into setting up a successful business. There’s an investment in capital and time, and you need to see some ROI for your efforts. The truth is, many people don’t make it because they ignore reputation management.
It doesn’t matter how young or old the business is, negativity has the potential to tarnish your business’ image and bring it down.
We have many tips that can help you elevate your business to the next level. Contact us today and our experts will gladly take you through.