Start with Your Online Reputation

Outplay and Outgrow the Competition – Start with Your Online Reputation

No matter how good you think your business is, if your online reputation falls short, you’ll have a hard time getting more customers.

Think of online reputation as your cover letter when you’re sending out resumes. You may have something great to offer, but how you present those offerings is what really matters. Your would-be employers — the consumers buying your product or hiring you for your service — want to see good things in your cover letter. And if your online reputation is not managed properly, they will see everything, including the ugly bits you weren’t able to address.

Putting Your Brand on the Good Side

Imagine scanning a rack of magazines. You have no idea what’s inside, relying solely on the cover to guide you in choosing which one to buy. You won’t go for the one with the unreadable font and the headlines that promise nothing engaging. You’ll keep away from those that talk negatively about a topic you love. This is how some people look at your brand reputation.

In that rack of magazines, be the one whose cover ticks all the checkboxes: people should trust you, you should address negative feedback immediately, and previous customers should agree that your product is useful. It doesn’t mean your online reputation has to be completely flawless; rather, it should provide customers all the information they need to evaluate your brand — and this translates to providing value with:

Strengthen Your Brand with Content

A solid content strategy is all about finding the right opportunities to establish your authority in your niche. After all, customers want to know that they’re doing business with someone who’s an expert in the industry.

What are the ways to strengthen your online reputation through content?

  1. Guest post to high authority websites to build your profile as an industry contributor/author.
  2. Improve the copy of your landing pages to drive more traffic to your website.
  3. Write compelling copies that send the right messaging to your target audience.

Addressing Negative Feedback: Don’t Sleep on It

Stats show that 70% of customers who filed a complaint are likely to do business with you again if you resolve the matter in their favor. This can increase to 95% if you resolve the problem “instantly.” Letting a negative comment or feedback go unresolved ruins your brand’s name, especially if everyone on your social media account can see it.

According to experts, if you can’t address the situation just yet, at least respond and say that you’re working on the matter. In fact, 35% said they would have been satisfied with a simple apology when they raised a concern about a particular service or product. This goes to show that you have to be the brand that acts like a friend: there when you need them, offering their presence even if they don’t have the best advice just yet.

Like what this business did after they received a negative feedback on TripAdvisor:

Quick Response to a Negative Review

This brings us to another pro-tip: implementing review management and monitoring. Your SEO specialist can setup automated alerts through Google Alerts to inform you of any mention or review about your business. This allows you to know what customers are saying as it happens, so you can douse any heated comment with a response even before it goes viral. This is a great way of showing that you’re taking any feedback from a customer seriously, and that you care enough to respond to their concerns.

Opening Your Profile for Comments

Kissmetrics mentions the importance of being transparent to your customers. This means opening up to criticism and feedback. Give your customers an avenue for their grievances and positive comments. It’s better for your business if have customers raising their concerns rather than the problem spreading to other people without your knowledge.

There are three ways to deal with criticism: defy, deflect, or defend.

You deflect when faced with a complaint or issue that is beyond the social media manager’s reach. Incorporate humor and try to lighten up the situation. After apologizing for any negative feedback, link them to something fun that doesn’t undermine their concern.

Humor is also important when you deflect — especially on Twitter, where posting and deleting “rogue” tweets only takes a second, you still have to acknowledge the oversight on your part. Taco Bell has mastered the art of injecting humor in tweets that would otherwise make other brands rethink their response.

Just look at how they easily deflected this comment:

Defending your brand is a bold move, especially when talking about a hotly contested topic. There are several approaches to this, but before you post your brand’s stand, make sure that you brainstorm all the possible repercussions. Be prepared for comments and stand your ground — but be willing to apologize in case you step on other people’s opinions. In the end, you are still a professional brand, and people expect you to act professionally. When defending your brand, remember the following:

  • Are you sparking too much criticism?
  • Can your posts and opinion be taken against you by competitors?
  • Will deleting the negative comments cause more harm than good?

Social media can be a double-edged sword. If you’re not careful of what you post, customers may misunderstand, and misunderstandings can lead to bigger problems. Your social media marketing strategy should be spot on, so you can maximize your presence but maintain the professional tone to engage with customers.

Emphasizing Your Brand’s Purpose

Managing a solid online reputation isn’t just about reacting. It’s also about emphasizing what truly matters to your brand: offering quality service and providing a product that’s useful for your customers. This doesn’t mean getting into the boring details of your product, or filling your Twitter or Facebook profile with specs that regular people don’t understand.

How will customers know what your brand is about without your website reflecting what your business actually is?

One way to reinforce your brand’s purpose is through web design. Think of it this way: How will customers know what your brand is about without your website reflecting what your business actually is? If your SEO specialist tells you that most of your visits are bouncing, it may be time to redesign your site.

Here are a few pointers to get a web design that resonates with your brand’s purpose:

  1. Colors must complement your brand’s logo to make it easier for your customers to remember your brand.
  2. Your website should be designed for the users.
  3. Highlight your USP — customers should see this right off the bat.

Reputation management should not be a last resort. For businesses of any size, every single post should add value to the brand, not potentially ruin it. A lot of thinking should come with each post — there is no room for regrets and late realizations when posting on a brand followed by thousands or even millions.

Just think of it this way: it might be easy to delete any erring caption or a tweet, but think about the number of people who can take a screenshot of what you’ve posted. Once a screenshot exists, your error will float around the internet for good, marring your good brand reputation forever.

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Itamar Gero

Itamar Gero

Itamar Gero made the Philippines his home in 2009 when he founded TrueLogic Online Solutions. Since then, he has garnered the brightest minds in digital marketing who have successfully executed digital strategies in the most competitive industries online. Besides being a serial entrepreneur, he travels the world, meditates whenever possible and dreams in code.