How can you manage your brand's online reputation? These seven steps will help you connect with your audience and make a good impression on anyone researching your brand online.
- Your online presence on social media platforms plays a significant role in how others view your business. Your social media presence can basically make or break your brand.
- If people are happy with you, your brand and your business, others will know. If they aren't happy about how you manage certain issues, others will know this as well.
- There are many tips and tricks you can use to appropriately manage your presence on all of the social media platforms.
Are people talking about you on a platform seen by tens of millions? Better hope they're saying nice things. With so much of people's online time spent on social media, managing your online reputation, whether you're an individual or a business, is more important than ever.
Why should you care about what people say online?
Research shows that 85% of consumers research a company online before they decide whether to make a purchase. When your potential customers research your company, this will include any social media presence you have, as well as reviews and news that pop up when they type your business's name into a search engine. Part of effective online reputation management is understanding how your customers are using the web. Your website might be the last place they go to find out more about you.
Today, people are more savvy about sales and marketing from businesses. Consumers are beginning to value the opinions of other customers and online reviews higher than anything you might have to say about your brand. Customers not only value online reviews, but are willing to pay more for a service from a company with higher reviews and ratings.
If people aren't happy about how you're doing business, they won't just send you an angry letter or write to the paper. They'll call out your shortcomings on social media, and before you know it, you could have a PR disaster on your hands.
Social media is essentially a giant echo chamber of people's views, so small complaints can get out of hand very quickly. For large or public-facing businesses, complaints can magnify into movements in a matter of hours.
Here are seven actionable takeaways you can use to manage your brand's online street cred.
1. Monitor your social footprint.
Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular social media platforms, but they aren't the only ones out there. Perform regular searches on your brand name or product on each platform to get an idea of what people are saying about you. In addition to being able to respond to problems (see below), you can gain valuable insights into consumer sentiment toward your brand. Remember to check all relevant platforms, not just the ones on which you have an active presence.
2. Respond to people promptly.
If you have a social media presence, people expect you to be sociable. When your customers reach out to you on social media, they expect you to reply quickly to their query. Even if it's something you can't solve immediately, at least acknowledge them. If you're posting content, engage with people who post comments to cultivate a lasting relationship with your audience.
3. Ask for Google and Yelp reviews.
Online reviews are powerful tools, especially for attracting customers early in the buying cycle. If you are making your customers happy, ask them to post reviews to express their views and increase your collection of reviews. If you have a large customer base, create an email marketing campaign to encourage customers to leave reviews. More people will leave a review when asked. If you're having trouble getting reviews, incentivize the process in your campaign with a giveaway or competition.
Customers looking for products and services value online reviews. Google and Yelp reviews are the most prominent because they usually show up first in search results, making your brand look more trustworthy and valued by customers.
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4. Encourage brand advocacy.
You can use social media to cultivate a base of strong brand advocates. Give your audience a reason to follow and engage with you by sharing content they enjoy, starting discussions with them and hosting competitions. Encourage your audience to share their content too: User-generated content, like reviews, is highly valued by customers and social media users.
You can encourage brand advocacy internally too. A firm set of social media guidelines for employees should detail the culture and nature of their online references to your brand in an open and honest way.
5. Be transparent.
Transparency builds trust. Given that anyone can find everything you've ever said online, trying to cover up the truth has serious backlash potential. Practice honest communication and marketing on social media. Always admit your mistakes, because if you try to cover something up, it will be found out sooner or later. If someone complains to you on social, don't delete or hide the comment; address it. Remember, millions of eyes could be watching.
6. Set goals.
When setting goals for your media presence, the first thing to do is ask yourself why you are on social media in the first place. Your answer shouldn't be "because everyone else is on it." Though the overarching purpose is to improve awareness of your brand, your actionable goals should be more specific. For instance, say you want to increase the Instagram responses to your product by 25% by the end of the second quarter. Remember, your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).
7. Know your audience.
Identifying your target audience is critical in any attempt to manage your social media presence. Once you are aware of your audience's wants and needs, you will be better equipped to understand your own presence on social media. You'll know which platforms work best for your brand and how to speak to your audience on each specific platform.
Careful cultivation of your brand's online reputation can increase your sales and positive sentiment toward your brand. People expect businesses to engage with them on social media to at least some degree, so it's important to do it right. Avoid the pitfalls, because the world is watching!