What Is Online Reputation Management and Why Do You Need It? Now more than ever, it’s important that your business maintains a good reputation. We live in an age where consumers have seemingly endless options when it comes to purchasing products or services. This gives consumers more freedom to choose the businesses they want to support, and often, they’ll select ones that have many positive reviews, aren’t embroiled in controversy, or are supportive of advocacies they are also passionate about.
Even before the Internet, businesses paid a lot of money for PR services to ensure their business had a clean image. However, online reputation management isn’t quite so simple or straightforward. For example, information travels much faster now, so any negative press on your company will spread like wildfire before you can get the situation under control, so it’s important to always be vigilant of what journalists and customers are saying about your business online. While it’s impossible to guarantee that your company will be 100% free from controversy, there are ways to maintain and build your consumer base with the use of reputation management software.
The importance of your online reputation
We’ve all heard the PR horror stories of consumers banding together online and calling for a boycott of a business. It’s already happened to several companies, big and small. You wouldn’t want this to happen to your business, and that’s why you need to closely monitor your online reputation.
We now live in a world where consumers are wary of businesses, which is why we need to work harder to prove that we are worthy of their trust, support, and loyalty. Having a good reputation online improves conversion among consumers. A good reputation also impacts other digital marketing strategies positively. According to Google, having a high number of positive reviews helps you rank higher on local search. This is noteworthy if your business is implementing search engine optimization (SEO).
Many companies use reputation management software or services to ensure they keep their online reputation stable, but if you don’t have the resources to hire a PR agency, read on to find out how you can ensure your online reputation is as stellar as possible.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
Positive reviews are a great way to boost your online reputation and to prove to wary customers that your business is legitimate and can provide a satisfying user experience. Anytime a customer avails of your products or services, make it easy for them to leave a review by sending them a thank you email with the link attached. You can also offer them something of value for their time, like a discount, small gift, or free shipping on their next purchase.
- Monitor your mentions and messages
Often, customers who air their grievances publicly do so because they weren’t satisfied with the company’s response on private channels. Take the time to respond to private messages on social media and customer service emails. Be quick and proactive about resolving the situation to avoid any further confrontation. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things escalate to the public sphere anyway, with customers writing scathing reviews or social media posts that quickly go viral. To avoid this, monitor your online mentions closely. The sooner you crackdown on negative reviews and social media mentions, the less likely it’ll gain mass attention. This is challenging especially for small business owners. You can’t be expected to sit there all day refreshing your Twitter or Facebook notifications. Instead, opt for reputation management software. Most software can conveniently link to your email inbox and all major social media platforms, meaning you can have just one app open to respond to users regardless of which channel they use to contact you.
- Be sensitive to current issues
With increasing political and social tensions, a global pandemic, and a struggling economy, there’s a lot that consumers are struggling with. Given this, businesses must educate themselves and their employees on current issues to avoid offensive and tone-deaf words, actions, ads, or statements. One example of this is the Pepsi 2017 ad depicting protesters and police in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad was widely slammed, and Pepsi was accused of trivializing and capitalizing on a tragedy. Another instance of this occurring is when DiGiorno hijacked a hashtag raising awareness on domestic violence to promote their product. This resulted in a massive wave of backlash which forced the company to apologize and delete the Tweet. All these instances should be a lesson to companies to be mindful of serious and delicate issues to avoid public outrage and bad press.
- Adopt more sustainable business practices
The rise of ethical consumerism has promoted the belief that consumers should only support businesses that promote ethical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly business practices. This movement has challenged businesses to reassess their entire business model. Consult with experts on how you can modify your manufacturing process to reduce waste. Do a background check on your suppliers to determine if they’re someone you want your business to be associated with. Switch to eco-friendly packaging. Listen to employee concerns and provide them with meaningful work. There are many ways you can be a better business, and by implementing these changes, you will surely attract more mindful consumers and gain their loyalty.
It may be daunting to hear about all the stories of brands falling into tough situations because they failed to manage their online reputation but with the help of experts, reputation management software, and these tips, we’re sure you can succeed in keeping your business thriving. While it’s true that even if you delete embarrassing or insensitive posts, they’ll still be on the internet forever because of screenshots and online archives, what will define your brand is how you own up to your mistakes and recover from the fallout. The secret to maintaining a dignified image is not deleting negative reviews or malicious posts, it’s apologizing and taking full accountability for all wrongdoing. Take action to show you’re truly remorseful and ensure it never happens again.