When it comes to your online presence, first impressions matter very, very much. This is why online reputation management is a critical strategy for the success of your business.
Not to mention, online reputation is something that affects every organization. There is no getting away from it; it is not optional. If you fail to develop it, you leave your company vulnerable to online attacks from negative reviews, complaints on social media and any bad news that may surface about your brand.
Establishing and maintaining a good online reputation, on the other hand, helps protect your business by suppressing the negative with the positive. While it may not eliminate all of the negative information, the great content you produce, complimentary reviews you receive and the recognition you get for your accomplishments all push down the negative, essentially neutralizing it.
But where do you start and which online reputation management strategies work? We broken it down for you here.
1. Start With The Building Blocks
There are three building blocks of online reputation management which provide a starting point for developing effective strategies. They may be different, but they are all equally important.
You have control over all of your owned media, with your website and blog the two most prominent properties. Social media is technically partially owned media, since other people can comment on your profile.
Microsites, your About web page, mobile apps, webinars, press releases and news webpage are also owned media.
Owned media is important not only for shaping your online image but also for boosting your visibility in search results. When optimized properly, they do well in search results.
While it is typically used in marketing and advertising campaigns, paid media can play a key role in your online reputation management strategy.
Effective purchased media drives visitors to your owned media, where you can then further shape their perception of your brand. Paid media also drives engagement between target audiences and your brand. It should be used in conjunction with owned and earned media.
Examples of paid media include display ads, Facebook ads, promoted Tweets, PPC ads and social media influencers.
Getting positive earned media is like hitting pay dirt in the world of online reputation. It is considered “pure” because you neither own it nor pay for it. Rather, others - such as customers, industry thought leaders or media outlets - share your content or mention your business online.
Ideally, you will get plenty of earned media from customers, who then become advocates of your company to their family, friends and co-workers.
The following are examples of earned media:
- Guest blog posts
- Mentions on social media
- Sharing of content you created
- Your research published on other websites
2. Make Your Owned Properties Shine
The vast majority of your prospects will find you by coming across your website or social media channels. This is why it is important to make them powerful vehicles for reputation management.
One way to do this is by creating additional, separate websites and social media profiles for specific products or services. You may have one product that is perfect for a certain type of target audience but without value to another, and vice versa. Why not play them up for each audience? Plus, the more web properties you have, the higher your visibility in search engines will rise.
It is also a good idea to develop a strong and active social media presence for employees of your organization who interact with customers, are prominent in your business or act as thought leaders for earned media. In many cases, a company’s reputation is entangled with that of its executives. Building a positive image for them indirectly benefits the business.
When creating social media profiles for these employees, their accomplishments and expertise should be on display. Visitors to their profiles should be able to see them immediately. This is yet another way to reinforce your company’s position as a leader in your industry.
3. Take Authorship
People are more likely to trust the content you create when it comes across as education versus promotional. Nothing makes blog posts look more promotional than listing the company as the author. After all, individuals write and speak on subjects - not companies.
Instead, figure out which members of leadership at your organization would be best suited to acting as industry thought leaders. This does not require them to write the pieces themselves; you can assign them to a copywriter to ghostwrite. When the pieces are published, credit is given to the employees designated as thought leaders.
This serves several purposes - the first being the winning of reader trust mentioned earlier. It also reinforces company leadership as subject matter experts in your industry. By making informative content available, they are providing value and education to those people whose problems your services or products are well suited to solve.
4. Follow Proper Review Response Etiquette
Responses to negative reviews should always be thoughtful, professional and humbly apologetic. Lines like “I am sorry you feel this way” or “I am sorry you took it the wrong way” will not go over well with the reviewer or visitors to the review site.
That said, it is not a good idea to overboard with the apology, either. If you take too much blame, you could make your company look incompetent. And you should never offer free products or services in a public response, as this may cause others to complain as well in the hopes of getting free stuff.
Instead, demonstrate your remorse for the customer’s negative experience and offer to continue the conversation offline by providing them with a contact person or department for follow-up. This shows your staff cares and takes the conversation out of the public eye. Doing so is imperative, as continuing to discuss it in public only extends its life in the eyes of those who see the review.
Never get into an argument with a reviewer. This not only makes your business look unprofessional, but it can also further fan the flames of the reviewer’s outrage. In turn, they may speak negatively about your brand to their social circle. As a general view, be nicer than you think you need to be. This does not mean you should accept blame where there is none; it simply means you should always come across as courteous, helpful and professional.
Use every negative exchange as an opportunity to improve your processes. While criticism stings, sometimes there is a grain of truth in it. Take the time to listen - REALLY listen - to reviewers and those who comment on your social media profiles. In the long run, they may help you make improvements that will benefit your business in the long run.
This is especially important if you keep hearing the same negative feedback, from different people, over and over again. You know what they say: If you are the common denominator, you are likely the issue.
5. Make Your Blog Matter
It is easy to dismiss your company blog as a minor task that can be relegated to the low priority list. After all, how much of an impact could it possibly make in the grand scheme of things? A LOT.
Blogging on a regular basis allows you to reinforce your brand as a thought leader and to demonstrate to prospects how your products or services can solve the problems they face. It does this by presenting the problems that plague them, presenting solutions and ultimately explaining why your company is the best option.
Additionally, blog posts that are well written and optimized perform better in search results, helping to push down negative links. By dominating the top of search results, they also increase your brand’s visibility and suppress that of your competitors. Your target audience will be able to find your website, social media profiles and reviews more easily.
Blogging also provides yet another opportunity to drive people to your website - either through the blog directly or via blog links you share on social media. And you give your followers valuable information, further demonstrating how you can ease their pain.
Blogs are search engine friendly because they create backlinks, which search engines find favorable. As a result, your owned media performs well in search results.
Let The Experts Take Over
If all of the aforementioned online reputation management strategies sound time consuming to execute, it is because they are. They need to be done properly and frequently in order to be effective.
Establishing and maintaining a solid online reputation should never be regarded as icing on the cake. It IS the cake. It is critical to develop the right reputation management strategies and execute them exactly when and where they need to be executed. Otherwise, you may end up doing even more damage than you'll do good.
Doing so takes a significant amount of time and effort. Some companies hire employees solely for this job. However, they do not always possess the expertise and tools necessary to pull off this tricky feat.
Fortunately, the team at Tag Marketing has the expertise, experience and resources to craft the image of your brand that will engender trust in your target audiences which will ultimately lead to more conversions and sales.
We accomplish it with automated, advanced software, rigorous social media management, thoughtful web design that takes into account SEO & user experience, and content that makes it clear your business is the solution your prospects are seeking.
Get started with a free reputation audit to find out where your online presence stands.
If you found this article helpful, you should check out our Successful Guide To Reputation Management. It is full of tips, tricks, tools, statistics and more.