There are a lot of misconceptions about Reputation Management and what it’s all about. Some may not understand the impact it can have on a business in terms of reputation, and the direct correlation to leads, and ultimately sales. It is much more than social media monitoring and public relations. Keeping this in mind, any business or organization can reap considerable benefit from reputation management by understanding what is, what it does, and devise an implementation plan for a robust Reputation Management process.
Why Is Reputation Management Important for a Business?
Reputation Management is everywhere – whether it’s a celebrity caught in a scandal or a Fortune 500 CEO tweeting something deemed newsworthy – reputation management damage control wheels are set in motion constantly so appropriate steps are taken before a situation (and subsequent image/reputation) spirals out of control. This same concept applies to small businesses and organizations. The last thing any business owner wants is for their reputation to be at stake. There are various ways by which the reputation of a business can be managed and ethics can play a vital role in the process.
Many will argue that such instances can be avoided entirely by never developing a negative reputation. Even though you may be doing the best you can, it’s not realistic to continuously satisfy everyone’s needs and expectations. There may come a time when an organization’s negatives manage to surface; this is when it’s necessary to make effective use of online reputation management tools and services. Further, Reputation Management is also very effective at generating new leads and providing customer service that can be perceived by current and potential clients as going above and beyond.
How to Improve Online Traffic and Increase Leads
There’s more to it than meets the eye when it comes to online reputation management (ORM). Apart from monitoring what is being said about your business, product, service, etc., you will come across countless sites where users can voice their concerns and experiences. People are free to say anything they want on these platforms, and until someone’s able to respond accordingly, negative comments can spread, often igniting quickly depending on the business/product, user, platform, and/or issue. However, such instances can be prevented, while simultaneously improving online traffic by:
- Emphasizing Excellent Customer Service
By focusing on exceptional customer service, positive vibes will win out and negate any past or current issues, and quickly create positive reviews, and eventually a very favorable reputation. Those companies that emphasize developing superior customer service will reap the rewards in the long run. However, a bad customer service experience can haunt a business for years to come.
- Avoiding Fake Reviews
There are a lot of businesses that make the terrible mistake of writing fake reviews. You have to understand that customers these days are quite savvy. They have the necessary experience required to detect whether a review is authentic or not. If word gets out that a business is using fake reviews, it can create significant damage to a business and its reputation, thus affecting its credibility and sales. The reward of a few additional “positive” reviews is not worth the risk.
- Asking for Reviews
You can ask customers to review your business, but be cautious. Having a displeased customer review your business and its operations can be risky. If you’ve handled their questions, concerns, and/or complaints effectively, it should work in your favor. This makes it important for you to set up pages where happy customers are free to detail their experiences in order to attract new customers. Bottom line: Know your customers and strive to satisfy each one (within reason).
- Hiring Professional Firms
If you are unable to monitor your online reputation, there is no harm in seeking help. There are countless Online Reputation Management service firms that can handle this responsibility for you. Since they are specialized in engaging different clients and their customers, they are quite efficient and effective at establishing or improving the reputation of any business. Even though it can seem costly at first, it will pay off in the long run.
Do it Yourself — Monitor Online Reputation to Protect your Brand
When you learn about a product or service that interests you, the first step is normally to conduct some online search. Search engine results now serve up user reviews either directly (Google) or indirectly via top ranked results (Amazon, Yelp!, etc). These highly visible reviews can quickly affect how current and potential customers view your brand as a whole. It is critical to remember this and consider the following steps to monitor, protect, and improve your brand and business reputation.
- Web Monitoring
An easy place to begin your Reputation Management endeavor is by monitoring mentions about your brand. This requires persistent online monitoring and should be done at least daily, preferably in real time. This enables you to understand what people are saying and react (respond) accordingly.
Monitoring your brand online is important, and not as complicated or involved as it once was. There are some great online tools available (some free, some paid) that provide the ability to track your brand mentions (keywords/phrases): Here are just a few: BuzzBundle, Google Alerts, Mention.com, SocialMention.
If you have not taken advantage of a Reputation Management Service, or implemented a do it yourself approach using available online tools, please consider it, even if you feel your reputation is spotless. It’s likely there’s something festering out there, or just a matter of time before something is said online that goes viral. It’s much easier and less costly to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to Reputation Management.
Whether you like it or not, people will talk about your business / brand – Reputation Management will ensure you know what is being said, and provide the ability to respond swiftly and appropriately. This prevents negative comments from spreading and adversely impacting your reputation, while also illustrating that you genuinely care about what current and potential customers are saying. It’s a Win-Win and your business will reap some serious benefit if you have a robust Reputation Management plan in place.