Back to the Basics of Reputation Management
You have heard it before. Any press is good press. But does that still stand in the age of social media? It seems like anyone from anywhere can share his or her opinion on anything. When clients share their thoughts about a business online, it can result in a big boost to the business’ reputation. However, people are not only posting the positive. Social platforms in addition to review websites hold thousands of negative reviews of services. Whether the negative review is opinion or fact, negative reviews can be bad for business.
It seems like nothing good can result in a negative review. However, a positive response can result in an overall experience for the reviewer. Reputation management is crucial to keeping your clients on your side. Some businesses exemplify reputation management while others make crucial mistakes. Reputation management is easy to understand and even easier to apply.
What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management encompasses many elements into one. It is the combination of public relations, search engine optimization, and digital marketing elements that work together to showcase the best of businesses. Reputation management is all about influencing. It is the words and images a business uses to influence clients to view their business in a positive light. In layman’s terms, online reputation management is controlling how you or your business’ reputation is perceived by others / clients.
Reputation management is crucial for growing a business. People are talking. A simple Google search of any business can verify this fact. Some of the most common people searching for more information can be consolidated into groups.
Consumer – The consumer includes any client, past or present, which relies on your
business to fulfill a service.
Stock Holders – This is mostly true of larger businesses, but it is still universally believed for any business. Those who are invested want to make sure their care is in the right hands.
Journalists – Google searches are a journalist’s best friend. The media can find a lot out about a business from a couple reviews online.
Potential Employees – This is true especially if your business is actively growing. A business with positive reviews could be viewed as it being a positive work environment.
Personal Contacts – You want your friends to be interested in your business, so you want to look good online.
Clients and potential clients are interested in learning of other’s experiences when deciding where to take their business. If they see reviews posted by likeminded people, they are more likely to take the reviewer’s advice. Reputation management makes sure that the posts online are factual and positive. Not all will start out as positive, but there are certain tactics that can be used to turn the negative into a positive.
Why Utilize Reputation Management?
Increased Client Trust –
Businesses with a good online reputation are trusted more overall than those with negative reviews. There is no way around it. People look to other people. If you have trouble getting people to trust your services, you are going to have a hard time staying in business.
Raise in Profits –
Attractive reviews and a positive online presence lead to increased business. It is concrete evidence that people are buying what you are selling and that they are happy with it.
Higher Rate of New Clients –
Those looking for the service you provide can see from your online presence that you care for people like them. They want to make sure their trust is in the right hands.
A well managed online reputation ensures that all first impressions will be positive. Reputation management builds up your brand when performed with care.
Determining Your Online Reputation
Finding out what others are saying about you and your business online is as simple as pushing a few keys. Take a second to Google search your name or business’ name. Some examples of search phrases to look up are:
- [Your Name] reviews
- [Your Name] testimonials
- Complaints about [Your Name]
- Is [Your Name] a good company?
- Should I trust [Your Name]?
Do you like what you see? Those practicing good reputation management can say yes. Pay close attention to the conversations surrounding the question. In what context are people talking negatively or positively about you and your business?
Next, dig a little deeper. Try Google searching any employees or associated members of your business. With these results, try to assess the risk of what each associate may carry. If an important person or affiliation to your business has outstanding negative reviews, that can also hurt you and your company.
What Do Negative Results Look Like?
There is not one exact negative result that damages a business’ reputation. Negative results can come in many forms such as:
- Negative reviews
- Negative press
- Negative affiliated websites
- Negative social platform posts
Even if a negative review is posted online and then solved, the negative post will still live on. That is why it is so important to reply to these negative reviews so that the outside viewer can see how you acted to right the wrong.
Fixing Negative Reviews
There exists a golden rule of reputation management. It is always applicable and applies to all businesses. It is as followed.
Never delete a negative review or post.
It is simple; just do not do it. In the age of the Internet, nothing is ever gone once it is deleted. There are many ways deleted posts can resurface. The last thing you want to deal with is a zombie review rising from the dead. Respond to the review, and do not ignore it.
When dealing specifically with negative reviews posted to review websites, consider taking these steps.
Search out negative posts
It is easy to fix a problem if the problem is tagged directly to you. However, not every negative review will be dropped in your inbox. Searching out trending keywords associated with your business can lead to finding negativity you did not know existed. Finding and replying to the negative review not only shows clients that your business is active, but that you actually care about the service you are providing.
Providing further actions
It is nice to know that a company cares enough to reach out, but what is even better is if the business offers to help right the wrong. Offering a free service or other complimentary action can really go a long way. This shows that they are a company that cares what their consumers have to say and that they want to hear it.
Let the reviewer know that there is a person behind the screen that cares about the complaint. This could be shown in signing your name to a reply or using conversational language when replying. Customers want to know that you care.
Protecting Yourself Against Future Negativity
There is no way you can completely eradicate negative reviews, but there are ways to protect your reputation by managing your associated website’s privacy. Each online account, whether we are talking about Twitter or LinkedIn, comes with a privacy setting feature. It is important to familiarize yourself with the different privacy settings unique to each online platform. Privacy settings offer a screening practice that may help to filter out some of the negativity.
Twitter accounts with a personal or business name as the user rank higher than those with unassociated handles. While Twitter only offers a few options to connect with your clients, there are plenty of ways to protect your account. To regulate your Twitter privacy, follow these steps.
- Go to “settings” on your profile
- Click on “account”
Select “protect my updates”
LinkedIn ranks highest in the most important platforms to protect. Being that it is a platform for businesses and professionals, every post should be conducted in a professional manner. LinkedIn has the most versatile controls to manage what is shown on your business’ profile. For example, you can choose which fields get highlighted in search engines or you can turn your public profile completely to private. To regulate your LinkedIn privacy, follow these steps.
1. Go to your profile’s “Account & Settings”
2. Click “Public Profile Settings”
3. Select “view preferences”
Facebook is also a very important platform to regulate, as it is a platform for both personal and business accounts. While you want your business’ page to be user friendly and personal, you also should keep it professional. One way to keep it professional is to control which searches your Facebook page appears in. This can only be accomplished through business accounts and is not applicable for personal accounts. After searching to “create a public search listing for me,” follow these steps.
- Go to “Settings”
- Click on the “Privacy” tab
- Click on the “Search” tab
Click “Select search visibility”
Instagram is a great way to showcase through visuals the perks of your business. It is important that what was posted with a positive intent stays positive. Adjusting the privacy setting on this platform can prevent others from taking your images and making them into something that they are not. To regulate your Instagram privacy, follow these steps.
- Select your profile
- Click “Settings”
- Click “Privacy”
- Choose which “Interactions” you wish to regulate
Do Your Part, They Will Do Theirs
The most important element of reputation management cannot be controlled in a privacy setting or searched through associated tags. Be honest. No business is perfect and neither is any client. Sometimes you will make a mistake or circumstances out of your control will cause frustration. The worst thing to do in any of these situations would be to lie. Do not cover up the negative with more negative. Be transparent with your clients about who you are and what you do. An honest business gains trusting clients. Show clients that they are making the right choice by choosing you. When responding to online criticism, consider these steps:
- Be the bigger person – Do not stoop to a negative comment’s level. It is the only way your business will come out on top.
- Be polite – Enact the golden rule and treat others the way you would want to be treated. Use kind words to address the situation.
- Never pass blame – Even if it was a single employee’s fault, it is still the business’ responsibility. A business is made up of a team of individuals who all share an equal responsibility of upholding the brand. If you fail, you all fail together.
- Learn from your mistakes – It may be tempting to erase all bad encounters from your memory, but they can be used to better a future situation. Try to assess the bad and extract the good.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help – Having a second set of eyes on a response before it is posted to a negative review can save even more future headaches. Another person could catch mistakes you did not even know you were making. No further mistakes will make for no further negativity.
The Basics Overview
Online reputation management is possible for all businesses. Not only that, but it is one of the most important business practices you should be currently practicing. Having a hold on how your business is perceived to the outside world is ultimately how you can ensure company growth. Clients want to know that they are trusting in the best business, and a quick search engine test is the easiest way to verify if they are correct. Make sure you are protecting yourself and your business. Keep an eye out for negativity and remain active. Reputation management takes time, but it can be mastered by any business.