Turns out, who is saying what about you is not entirely out of your control. By actively listening and implementing the strategies discussed below, you can create a positive reputation for your brand online.
When it comes to branding, your reputation will always precede you. What your customers say about you is bound to have a bearing on the decision of your prospective buyers. According to BrightLocal, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before deciding if they can trust a new business, and 49% of them will need at least a 4-star rating to go ahead with that business.
The same study reveals that 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means that now, more than ever before, your success depends upon your customer’s perception of you.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is the process of monitoring how your brand is perceived by customers on online platforms such as social media, blogs, news websites, search engines, and other business listing pages. It involves analysing the conversations people are having about your business, and taking strategic steps to influence, control, and appropriately participate in those conversations.
ORM has gained much traction with the prolific growth of social media. Here are a few steps you can take to effectively manage your brand’s online reputation.
1. Assess your current online reputation
The first step to effectively manage your online reputation is to gauge your current reputation. Do a basic online search to see if your users are actively talking about you or not. And if they are, then see what those conversations are like.
Moreover, seek out feedback from your customers through short experience rating and feedback forms. You should also keep an eye out for reviews on Google’s knowledge graph, Google Play (if you own an app) or other listing websites (such as Yelp) relevant to your business.
Most big companies have an ORM team that is responsible for tracking the company’s social and online mentions. If you are a small team or don’t have a big ORM budget, there are other software options such as Google Alerts and Mention that track conversation happening around your business.
Matching your actual reputation to the one you aspire for is what will guide your reputation management strategy.
2. Make use of a meaningful domain name
Your domain name is the starting point of your user’s journey. It is like the first greeting or handshake, which could leave the other person with a pleasant and positive first impression. These impressions are crucial as they set the precedent of the nature of the relationship you will share with your users.
Choosing the right domain name is crucial to having a credible online reputation. A domain name that resonates with your company and its identity is more likely to be deemed as credible as opposed to one that seems inauthentic and spammy.
Consider, for instance, that you run an online platform that facilitates buying and selling secondhand goods. A domain name such as www.buy-secondhand-goodz.com might seem suspicious to users who will not even bother to click on it. Now, consider www.buysecondhand.store instead. This domain name clearly reflects what the company does without seeming fishy.
Capitalise on the availability of alternative domain extensions such as .STORE, .TECH, .ONLINE, .SITE, .SPACE, and more to create domain names that are more meaningful and better indicate what your company is all about.
Creating content that informs and educates users is a great way of establishing yourself as an expert without coming across as excessively self-promoting. You can do this by authoring articles for other websites or by managing your own blog.
High quality, authoritative, keyword-rich and optimised content can improve your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings — driving more users to your business and improving your chances of enjoying a credible online reputation.
The nature of your work and your customers will determine what kind of content you put out there. For instance, if you’re a lifestyle brand, content about the latest trends, listicles, and tutorial videos could work for you.
While creating content, make sure it resonates with your brand’s personality. This means that you should try and maintain consistency by way of tone, imagery, and information.
Social media is a great tool in the hands of the marketer. It is a quick and easy way to reach your customers and gauge the response to your business and its products. This very accessibility that the medium provides to marketers is what makes reputation management on social platforms so crucial.
Before you set out to devise your social media strategy, ascertain what your goals are. It can be any of the following:
- Create awareness about your brand
- Gain more likes and followers
- Talk to your customers
- Create an authoritative identity for yourself in the field
Based on your goal and the persona of your target customers, select the social media channels that you think would work best for you. For instance, if you’re a photographer, artist, or any other creative professional, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest could be the right platforms for you. If you’re a tech company or a marketing specialist, you should look at creating a strong presence on LinkedIn and Twitter.
All social media platforms come with their analytics and management tools. Use them to determine how your page and content are performing, where your most active audience is and what it likes. This will help you further improve your strategy and better manage your reputation.
5. Actively engage with your users
Online reputation management is not about putting yourself out there and then sitting back to see what happens. In order to improve your reputation, you need to encourage users to engage with you. Use social media to ask them what they think about your product and your content. Once they share their views, respond appropriately and timely. In the world of social media, everyone is looking for instant gratification. A delay in response can result in a drastic drop in reputation.
Respond to all comments and reviews positively and warmly, even if they are not so good. Negative reviews, when dealt with the right way, can uplift your reputation. In fact, 45% of people will give a chance to a new business if it responds to negative reviews. The best way to do that is to express your disappointment over the customer’s poor experience and offer prompt, actionable solutions to their problem. Avoid being defensive and confrontational. If you play your cards right, you can even win back the customer.
You don’t always have control over what people are saying about you online. But with the right kind of strategy, customer engagement, and content creation, you can ensure that all conversations around your brand — perhaps even negative ones — lead to its growth.