If you watched Bridgerton on Netflix last year (and if you didn’t, I don’t understand you), one of the biggest concerns for Daphne – the female protagonist – in the beginning was her reputation.
We’re not in the Regency-era setting of the show, but reputation remains a big deal. For businesses, you need to be as concerned about reputation as Daphne was. Your online reputation is pivotal when it comes to customers deciding if they want to buy from you, do business with you, or pass you by.
Just like you manage other areas of your enterprise, your online reputation also requires management.
Before we go any further, let’s look at a quick breakdown of what exactly is your online reputation.
What is online reputation?
In the simplest terms, your online reputation is how others view your business when they come across it online.
Several factors affect that reputation: reviews and ratings, comments on social media, mentions of your brand in the news media, blogs, etc. Naturally, when someone plugs in the name of a company into Google, that company doesn’t want a bunch of one-star reviews and negative comments floating to the top of the results.
That’s where online reputation management comes in.
What is online reputation management?
Think about how a PR firm helps a celebrity cultivate their public image and navigate events or crises. Online reputation management is a business’s way of shaping how their brand is perceived online and handling or counteracting potentially damaging material that’s out there on the web.
61.7% of the Caribbean is online and searching. Your online reputation across search engines and social media is a vital piece of your overall business puzzle.
You need to be aware of what is being said about your business online and have a plan to address issues as they arise.
There are various tools and strategies for online reputation management, but in this article, we’re looking at some of the things you definitely don’t want to do.
Here are six online reputation management mistakes you don’t want to make
1. Not having a strategy
You believe in your business, in the products or services you offer, so it doesn’t matter what people are saying, right? Wrong. It definitely does matter. Reviews, ratings, comments, and mentions are extremely important.
In fact, according to a survey done by BrightLocal, 79% of consumers trust online reviews in the same way they do recommendations from friends or family.
This is an American statistic, but we can all agree that word of mouth has always been important and travelled fast. The digital space has just made things move faster and farther. People talk! No matter the size of your business, someone is talking about it online.
While you can’t control everything that’s said about your business on social media, review sites, or in the media, your online reputation isn’t entirely outside of your hands.
In 2021, if you don’t have one already, you need to have an online reputation management strategy in place.
Determine your online reputation management goals and the resources you have to allocate to achieving them. Thinking about all the channels that feed into your company’s overall reputation can be daunting. Reputation management software like Grade.us that helps you monitor reviews or Mention to keep track of brand mentions can be enormously beneficial.
You might not be able to cover everything, so focus on the most impactful channels for your business.
Figure out the types of reviews and comments that are urgent and need to be addressed with speed and what can wait a little. You might want to consider creating response templates and FAQs to assist company members in dealing with customers online.
Craft a solid crisis management plan to have in place if the need arises.
2. Ignoring negative comments
Saying there’s a lot online is like saying the ocean is big. It’s a given. There is a myriad of places on the web where potentially damaging comments or content could be lurking about your business.
- Search engine results pages (SERP)
- Review sites such as TripAdvisor or reviews on Google My Business
- Forums and Q&A sites
- Social media
- News publications
Your reputation management strategy should include how you’ll monitor for negative search results, comments, and mentions.
Reputation management tools such as Grade.us, offered through Imagine Digital, simplify the process by providing a review monitoring dashboard. The dashboard allows for monitoring of reviews on over 100 review sites such as Google reviews and TripAdvisor.
Social media listening and monitoring tools can help keep you on top of mentions of your brand on social.
But what do you do with those negative reviews you find on review sites or comments you wish didn’t exist on social media?
Don’t ignore them.
Negative reviews or comments on social media can give even the calmest business owner a headache. It’s tempting to ignore or delete comments like these when you can, but that’s a mistake.
Negative comments are an opportunity. Hear me out: they present you with the opportunity to show action, empathy, and strong customer service.
According to Sprout Social, 57% of consumers look at a brand’s social presence to learn about new products and services. The way you respond to comments makes an impression. Also, seeing that complaints just sit there, going unanswered, can turn off potential customers.
Address concerns openly as much as possible; this shows that you’re willing to take action to improve the customer experience. Be aware, however, that there are situations that are best dealt with more privately and act accordingly.
You should also be monitoring mentions of your brand on other social media accounts and take steps to handle those that show your business in a negative light.
3. Arguing with reviewers or commenters
Never argue or feed the trolls.
When someone complains about a product or service your company has provided, never argue no matter how much you want to. We know people can be unfair or rude, but you only have control over your response and getting into an argument only reflects poorly on the business.
Emphasise your willingness to solve the problem and maintain professionalism in your responses.
Sometimes you might run into negative comments that are just trolling, and what’s one of the internet’s biggest rules? Don’t feed the trolls.
Your online reputation management strategy should include clear guidelines for your social media and community managers on how to respond to reviews and comments.
4. Giving a canned response to all questions
Having a stock or automated response certainly makes things easier, and they have their place. But a little personalisation can go a long way. Canned responses to every comment, complaint or question can make your business look disingenuous.
5. Only focusing on the negative
You’re missing out on opportunities to grow the positive perception of your brand if you only interact with negative feedback.
Your existing customers are powerful tools for boosting your online reputation.
Positive reviews encourage 68% of consumers to trust a local business.
Respond to positive reviews and comments; you can reshare and repost user-generated content about your brand.
Think about using customer success stories and excellent reviews as content on your social media channels. Also, don’t be afraid of asking for reviews from your customers if you know you’ve provided an outstanding experience. Make the process easy for your satisfied clients by sharing links to your Google Business page or Facebook so they can leave a review. You can even consider offering some kind of incentive to encourage customers to write reviews. But never buy reviews!
6. Never owning up to mistakes
You might mess up.
If your business finds itself under scrutiny or facing some PR backlash over a decision or event, an apology can go a long way.
Showing reflection or contrition in a tense situation shows that you’re willing to be open and honest, and this can improve customer relationships.
It’s not about being right all the time but about listening to the concerns of your customers and followers.
There you have it! Six general online reputation management mistakes to avoid making. Online reputation management is complex with a lot of moving parts, so reach out to one of our digital media consultants for a deeper dive into how we can help your business.
Stephanie Koathes is a Digital Content Production Specialist with Imagine Digital. She’s been writing up a storm since childhood. Now she’s blog writer, editor, and content organiser by day and wannabe baker by night. She can proudly quote the Lord of the Rings and has too many cats.