Imagine this: you require an online service and find a brand that's just right for the job. Their services and packages appeal to you. But before hiring, you decide to take a last vital step - checking their online review.
All you can see about the brand from social media to online review sites are negative comments. What would you do? Of course, that brand is out of consideration.
That same thing can happen to any business at any time. This is especially so in an era where people are constantly looking for things to talk about.
A little misconception of a brand can quickly turn into a wildfire and damage the brand's online reputation. And since almost every customer checks for past reviews, that brand's business stands a chance of being shut down.
Are you experiencing something similar? What can you do? Is there even anything you can do about it? Yes. Unlike how it may seem, you don't necessarily need to leave your brand's reputation up to the judgment of others. While you can't control what they think about you, you can influence it. This process is what we call Reputation Management.
So, what is that? How can you keep track of your online reputation? And what are the steps involved in reputation management? Discover the answers to these in this post.
What Does Reputation Management Mean?
Simply, it is the process of influencing public perceptions about your business.
To that end, it usually involves you keeping track of what the public is saying about your firm and clearing up any misconceptions. To boost your reputation, you have to spot and take advantage of opportunities to improve your reputation, such as responding to customers' questions.
For many, the time to do all these can be spent on other business areas, such as marketing. But one thing to note is that you can only win new clients when your past clients are satisfied with you and leave positive comments online.
Otherwise, your brand will lose its trust - a vital quality every business needs. So, it's clear why reputation management is essential and should not be overlooked.
5 Steps to Manage Your Brand Reputation
Let's see what each step involves and how you can apply them to your business.
1. Auditing Your Current Reputation
Before you take any step towards boosting your online reputation, you have to first understand what people currently think of your brand. In this phase of your reputation management, you're digging the internet in search of conversations about your brand.
As explained earlier, existing conversations affect how new potential clients view your business. Thus, your aim here is to find those "existing conversations." But where? You can start by checking social platforms, Google, and online review websites.
Researching how people view your firm is easy when you know where to look. However, that process becomes more difficult when you have no idea what medium your customers are using.
2. Create a Reputation Management Strategy
By this step, you should have understood how the public views your brand. Is it favorable or not? Are there any misconceptions about how your product works? How satisfied are they after making a purchase?
Careful implementation of the above step should give you answers to these questions. In short, your reputation management strategy depends on the result of your audit. For instance, if there’s a misconception about your brand, your goal should be to clear up the misunderstanding. Towards that, create an effective strategy.
What should your strategy contain? For one, it may contain the type of comments to treat as a priority. After all, replying to every comment is unrealistic (in most cases). As a filter, look out for genuine comments, rather than hateful remarks about your brand. Responding to those types of comments may make the situation worse.
But what if public opinion of your business is favorable? Regardless, you shouldn't lose your guard, as it can only take "one bad comment" to crumble a brand's reputation (see step 5).
3. Implement Your Strategy
This step is straightforward: Put your already-made reputation management strategy into action. When doing this, it's essential to always remain professional. Why bring up this point now? Because it's easy to get irritated, especially when most of the conversations about your business are false criticisms.
Remember, the way you approach the situation can make matters better or much worse. That’s why you want to remain professional. View it as an opportunity to interact directly with your target audience and hear their opinions. Consider positive comments to be what they’re satisfied with.
On the other hand, criticisms are areas they want improvements. When you have that mindset, you’ll notice areas where your business truly needs work. No matter how false some conversations are, you’ll be able to see ways to improve your products and services. Lastly, always reassure your customers when you plan on implementing their suggestions.
4. Check Feedback
How is the public taking your reputation management efforts? This step will help you to answer that question. To do that, keep track of your brand conversations. Are they improving? Do some matters still need clarity?
In addition to that, track how it's affecting your sales, traffic, and marketing success. Are you getting more favorable responses in these areas compared to before? If so, it may be a result of your reputation management efforts. If you don't notice any change, you may choose to give it more time. If there's still no change, it may be time to review your strategy and approach.
5. Always Be on Alert
Information spreads rapidly today. That’s why it only takes minutes for a brand’s reputation to crumble. Because of that, you want to regularly monitor what people are saying about you. When you notice a genuine question, ensure you reply immediately. And be ready to clear up misunderstandings calmly. By doing so, you’ll be successfully influencing public opinion about your business.
As someone looking to hire the services of an online brand, you’ll no doubt make your decision after considering the brand’s past reviews. That’s because you don’t want to run into any problems during the period of your contract with them.
Similarly, that's what customers think when deciding whether to hire your services. Because of this, don't overlook your firm's reputation management, as it can make or break your online business.