Online reputation management (ORM) isn’t just about devising a cure for one’s damaged reputation. It’s not all about implementing SEO strategies and tactics to push positive mentions up and pull down negative ones so that a brand will look great on the face of the search engines and in the eyes of their human users. ORM is a serious practice, and every business owner, entrepreneur or marketer should be passionate and focused enough to protect their brands’ reputation.
From prevention and detection to response and continuance, here are 22 tips I want to share to manage your brand’s reputation online and off.
1. Create a set of proactive quality control policies to ensure that your products, services or solutions will make your customers happy, not disappointed. Don’t forget to include “honesty” as one of your best business policies. Remember that most rants made by consumers online are due to the broken promises given to them by many companies.
2. Verify your social media pages. Make sure that your social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, YouTube and other social media channels are verified to distinguish your brand, and alert the public from fake social media pages that might be used to tell negative words and lies about your business.
3. Claim and control your business listings. Claiming your business listings on various local online directories such as Google Places, Bing Places for Business, Yelp and Foursquare will give you control to edit and fill in the right information about your business. This will also prevent other people from using your listings to damage your reputation.
4. Be approachable. Always check your email and private messages for customer inquiries and complaints. Most consumers will not directly jump to sharing their complaints to the public but will communicate first with the merchant in a private manner. If your business is always out of reach, expect that your customers will be impatient and their protests will be broadcasted to the public.
5. Manage your personal reputation. Your personal activities will also affect your business reputation. As one of the core people behind your brand, your customers could also be interested about your personal stories, and anything that is said to you could also be said to your business. Any negative issue about your personal life could spread rapidly in the social media, and damage your business brand. Hence, be cautious about your personal actions.
6. Do not do to others what do you want them to do to you. Karma can also damage your brand’s online reputation. Therefore, avoid criticizing other brands if you don’t like them to also criticize yours.
7. Use online reputation management tools. To get email notifications every time Google discovers new results about your brand, use Google Alerts. You can also utilize social media reputation tools such as Social Mention, Topsy and Rankur. Check out some interesting ORM tools in this post from Social Media Examiner.
8. Check your brand’s mentions on search engine results. You can simply use Google’s search engine to search blog posts, public social media mentions, forum threads, public reviews and news about your brand. Although, this process isn’t automatic, it’s still wise to do a manual check to look deeper into the links, websites and content shown by search engines.
9. Investigate your brand’s social media mentions. Using the tools of your choice, check what people are saying about your business, whether they say it on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or other social networks. Investigate further by understanding who they are and what triggered them to make both the negative and positive comments about your brand. People will also make comments on the posts in your Facebook business page which you may read manually to understand more.
10. Read comments on your blog. If you’re blogging, don’t ignore comments and discussions on your blog posts. They can be a good source of your customer feedback. Furthermore, read and investigate, not only other blogs’ posts that mention your brand, but also the comments on those blog posts.
11. Check comments, ratings and reviews on review sites. If you’re in the hotel and restaurant business, chances are, travelers are making reviews about your brand on sites like TripAdvisor.com. Consumers can also leave comments and reviews on local directories such as Yelp, Foursquare and Google Places. Thus, extend your ORM detection to review sites and local directories.
12. Ask your customers. Another way to get customer feedback is not to track them but to simply ask them. You can ask your customers through your blog or social media channels to give their feedback on your business or products. Prepare for their answers, whether they are negative or positive.
13. Make prompt but calm, humble and sincere apologies to people who give negative comments or reviews about your brand. Guarantee them to fix the problem. Don’t be too defensive. An angry customer can’t be tamed by alibis. So instead of debating, please them by offering a solution.
14. Give honest answers to your customers’ inquiries. Confused customers don’t need unrealistic answers – they need enlightenment. Be transparent and respond to your customers with honesty. It will help them build trust and confidence to do business with you now and in the future.
15. Thank and reward customers who make positive reviews about your brand. It will encourage more positive comments, ratings and reviews about your business. When your business gets a lot of positive ratings, negative ratings might become insignificant when it comes to measuring your average rating.
16. Create more high-quality content (i.e., useful articles, infographics and videos) that will make people admire your brand. High-quality content are loved by search engines and they become popular on social media. By creating them, you’re popularizing the good words about your brand and making the negative ones insignificant once again.
17. Implement integrated SEO to manage your reputation on search engines. Integrated SEO includes creating great content, increasing your social media influence, getting influencers to positively mention your brand, and utilizing PPC advertising to ensure that you will rule the search engine result pages for a particular keyword like your brand name or niche. This strategy will help you pull down negative mentions about your brand and push up the positive ones on the search engine result pages.
18. Boost your social media posts. If your awesome social media content aren’t getting the exposure they deserve, invest in paid advertising like Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads. Your social media response to the negative mentions about your brand should reach more audience to clean up your reputation. Hence, consider investing in ads to manage your online reputation.
19. Consistently train your staff. As part of your quality control policies, continue to train your team to ensure the quality of your products and services. Training on customer service, productivity, team work, leadership and personality development can help them deal with customers more satisfactorily.
20. Be cautious in getting services from incompetent online marketers, SEO, social media marketers and even ORM practitioners. Don’t compromise quality service with cheap prices. Some hasty and ineffective online marketers may do more harm than good to your business. Therefore, choose the one who has a good reputation. How can they help your brand build a good reputation if their own reputation is bad?
21. Be consistent with your brand personality. No matter how people or entities attack and throw lies at your business, don’t be discouraged but keep your brand’s traits that are loved by your customers. If your brand personality is someone like a hero who saves people’s lives, continue saving your customers’ lives.
22. Build better relationships with your customers. The more customers you have who will become your friends the more positive reviews your brand will have. Remember that friends will not humiliate you in the public and cause your downfall. So stop ruining your customers’ trust. Avoid fooling people and making enemies.
Managing a brand’s reputation is a great responsibility, as it involves managing both your personal and business reputation. It also involves leading your team or employees to ensure quality and make your customers happy. Furthermore, online reputation management is not all about managing what people will say about your brand on search engines, blogs and social media channels. Your brand’s online reputation relies on its personality that customers and the public can relate, both online and off.