Whether you invest a fortune in online advertising or not, your reputation is priceless. You could have spent millions on creating and maintaining a digital presence overnight, or invested more time and less cash. Either way, your work and your future are at the mercy of your online audience and what they think about you.
Understand Your Target Prospects
If they are part of the “public” they have a say in your reputation. Everyone, from bloggers and media, to employees, associates and business partners, plays a role in developing your online reputation. If you want to influence you must understand how your prospects think and what motivates them.
You will also need to find their hang outs and frequent them if you want to engage directly and change the way your brand is perceived.
Not Monitoring And Responding To Feedback
According to Entrepreneur.com,
That doesn’t mean you can’t have some automated eyes and ears to help you out. Automated social media monitoring tools such as Google Alerts, my company Trackur or Radian6 will listen for any mentions of your brand, allowing you to join conversations you might otherwise have missed.
We like to think of the positive feedback when it comes to responding but handling negativity is just as important. It can’t be ignored, nor can you make excuses. In order to resolve potential problems you need to respond quickly, accept you were in the wrong and make sure you help the complainant. In other words, eating a bit of humble pie, in a professional way, is going to be necessary.
Outsourcing Your Reputation Management Completely
While there are obvious merits to outsourcing online marketing it is also important to remember that an agency is not part of your client relations team. A large portion of online reputation management is dealing with responses. Thus, unless your outsourced company is extremely well briefed on your business and target audience you might want to consider handling at least some of it in house.
Stay Away From Controversy
It probably sounds logical now but it’s surprising how often brands literally jump in with two feet. If it’s a controversial issue or a sensitive subject, just stay well away from it.
In short, the best way to avoid a bad public image is the avoid controversy in the first place. While people are entitled to their opinions and free speech, there are things that should be kept behind closed doors if you want to retain a positive public image. Be smart and use common sense.
Always Be A Pacifist
If you do find yourself in the midst of an argument or debate, and you really do know you are in the right, don’t fall for the temptation of making it worse. Someone trolling your page is trying to get a reaction from you. Don’t give them the reaction they expect as it could potentially backfire. A disgruntled client doesn’t want to hear they are wrong, they will just look for more attention.
Good Work And High Quality Service Are Great Brand Ambassadors
There’s plenty you could do to make your brand look better and lots you can say to try and convince people that your business is not. However, to develop word of mouth credibility, the best thing to do is to let other people say it for you. If you consistently over promise and under deliver, word will get out. It might take a little longer than you expect, and it might not happen overnight. But ultimately your commitment is your most effective marketing tool. If you can consistently outperform your competitors any negativity about your brand will dissolve, and the good stuff will come to the fore.