Does your business have negative online reviews? Has it been the victim of a phishing hack? Are social media users or former employees posting about adverse experiences?
Unfortunately, even one damaging incident can wreak havoc on your business. If you don’t deal with the fallout from a public customer dispute or a disgruntled employee’s actions, the situation can become much worse.
In the eyes of consumers, your brand is who you are. While it’s intangible, it’s also your biggest asset. If you don’t protect your reputation and brand image, your credibility, business growth, and ability to attract capital will suffer. We’ll explore ways to protect and strengthen your company’s reputation so it stands out from the competition.
Industry trends come and go, but what gets posted online about your company could haunt you forever. Follow reputation-management best practices and take proactive steps to present the best public face possible.
Here’s what brand online reputation management involves:
Most of us know that anything we say or do could end up online. There are numerous examples of hot mic mishaps, unfortunate holiday work parties captured on video, and attempts to sow discord for fun or payback.
Aside from never attending a public event or staying in your office at all times, practical measures can help control public perceptions of your brand. Here are eight ways to manage your online reputation.
Disgruntled employees and vendors — and even competitors who want to torpedo your reputation — are significant sources of negative online content. Avoid animosity by conducting business honestly and with as much transparency and integrity as possible.
It also helps to ensure your team and business associates are happy. Keeping employees happy is part and parcel of branding and your overall business strategy.
To foster your team’s happiness, try the following suggestions:
When was the last time you Googled your business? Typing your company or professional name into a search bar once a week can uncover all kinds of things you weren’t aware of.
When you browse the internet through the eyes of a customer, you may find online reviews you didn’t know about, someone gossiping about your business on social media, and other public commentaries that pop up whenever someone mentions you or your business by name.
If you can see negative information when you search for your business on Google or other search engines, so can potential customers. The good news is that you don’t have to let negative comments sit there and ruin your reputation. Make it a point to monitor and take control of your online mentions in an organized daily process:
The only time you shouldn’t delete negative mentions is when they are legitimate reviews or complaints from actual customers. You should respond to all online reviews publicly, quickly and with the goal of a satisfactory outcome.
Outside of customer reviews and comments, most of what is known about your brand online comes directly from you. Here are some tips on generating good press for your brand:
Track key metrics, including social media metrics, for abrupt changes that could be tied to negative publicity. Your Google Analytics and admin web hosting dashboards show traffic spikes and help you analyze upward or downward trends.
Since timeliness is important, use tools that provide real-time alerts when people mention you online, including Google Alerts, Social Mention and Semrush.
Nothing can sink a brand faster than negative press, especially when it involves a security breach that puts customer data at risk. You can protect your business from data breaches and prevent network infiltration by educating employees on security measures that reduce human error incidents.
Here are some additional ways to protect your networks:
Consumers are more likely to listen to recommendations or warnings about products and services from friends than from paid spokespersons or ads. Organic word-of-mouth advertising is called social proof; it’s crucial to build social proof for your brand or company to encourage trust.
The following actions are some of the ways you can provide social proof:
Your website is often the first interaction you have with your audience. Ensure your business website design prioritizes security and the user experience. An excellent user experience accomplishes the following:
Your layout should be clean and easy to navigate. Your website should contain useful, relevant content and links, and the checkout process should be secure, fast and hassle-free. Choose a reliable hosting service with a high uptime percentage, and use a content delivery network to improve speed and performance.
In the age of AI and other machine-learning technologies, human-to-human interaction can get lost. Employ advanced tech to streamline core functions, freeing your staff to focus on personalized service and addressing customer pain points.
For example, write customers personal emails offering special discounts, build customer loyalty programs, or send cards for holidays or customer birthday greetings.
Monitoring your online reputation, controlling negative reviews, and enticing happy customers to post positive reviews can be time-consuming. Many small business owners turn to online reputation management services for help. Our top picks include the following.
We found Podium to be an ideal solution for businesses that want to combine text message marketing and online review management in one platform. Podium makes it easy to remind customers to post company reviews and lets you monitor and manage your reviews in one interface.
Podium’s reports help you see trends, spot problems, and proactively address issues. The service reduces the likelihood of customers posting bad reviews by giving them a convenient way to resolve problems before they snowball. For more information, read our in-depth Podium review.
Reputation Resolutions is our top choice for reputation management when a brand is under attack because of irate customers or a crisis like a data breach. The service focuses on removing negative reviews; clients only pay if the harmful content is successfully removed.
Birdeye is our top choice for brands that want to acquire positive reviews. The platform helps you collect customer reviews through various channels, including text, email, Facebook plugins and more, to build your online reputation. In addition to helping you generate customer reviews, Birdeye can help you strengthen your Google Maps listing and manage existing online reviews.
One bad interaction can tarnish your brand forever. With so much online competition and so many platforms available, clearing up misinformation or negative reviews could become a full-time job.
Make this vital responsibility easier by practicing proactive interaction, protecting your computer network, and hiring a professional reputation management firm to monitor your brand presence.
Jennifer Dublino contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.