6 Smart Strategies for Online Reputation Management
March 13, 2017
The contemporary business environment is highly volatile and many new businesses are finding it hard to make headways. With the growing influence of internet marketing, it has become crucial for every business to build a solid online presence. However, the concept of globalization also means startups have to compete with major global brands in their niche, making things even harder.
The Challenge in Reputation Management
As a startup, you are under a lot of pressure to ensure you stay afloat in light of this competition. One of the hardest tasks in running a business in the modern setup is maintaining a good reputation. This being the information age, customers can now access information more freely and they make decisions based on the same.
If your business does not have a solid strategy for reputation management, you risk getting burnt. The fact that you are competing with global brands means you have to impress your customers by showing a genuine concern and this will gradually earn your brand more trust. However, this is easier said than done because most businesses have no budget for reputation management.
Worse still, the modern consumer requires high-quality products and services and as a startup, you might not be able to provide such. For a new business, reputation management might not seem like a big deal, but this is not so. A 2015 study by Dimensional Research shows that 90% of customers are swayed to make a purchase decision by online reviews.
If your company has negative reviews by users, it will lose old customers and new ones will be discouraged form trying out your services. When your brand takes a hit, you might find it very expensive to hire a reputation management service to repair the damage, which makes it imperative to start building a good reputation early.
With more consumers using search engines to get information about specific brands, you must be proactive in ensuring they get the right impression about your company.
How to Build a Solid Reputation Management Strategy
Now that you appreciate the tough task ahead, it is important to build a secret strategy that will help build or reclaim your online reputation. Below are some tips to guide you in reputation management:
1. Create an Online Presence Using A Website
There are over 3.2 billion internet users according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The internet is therefore the next business frontier and you can build your brand by creating a professional website.
The contemporary consumer shops online and to identify the best brands, they use search engines. If your brand is not on the first page of search engine result pages (SERPs), your target customers will never find you. Brands that have an online presence are more trusted.
2. Leverage Social Media
While social media networks were initially supposed to connect family and friends, they have become crucial marketing tools for modern businesses. Any brand that does not have a presence on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube among other social media networks is missing out on an invaluable chance to build a good reputation. These social media platforms help you to improve user engagement and resolve issues much faster.
This in turn builds your reputation and sets you apart from the competition. Social media networks boast billions of users and information is rapidly shared. If your company is doing great, you will gradually build a strong reputation in your niche and customers will find it more convenient to buy from you.
3. Create a Vibrant Blog
Blogs are now an invaluable part of any professional website. A good business blog will not only boost sales conversion but is also important in building a strong reputation for your brand. A blog is supposed to be informative and the fact that shoppers are looking for relevant information amidst all the clutter found online makes your blog crucial.
For instance, a parent looking for dental implants will not just look for any clinic but they will also look for a website that has a blog about dental implants, procedure and other relevant details. In essence, your company’s website will be more trusted if you have a blog and users will always return because your brand is adding value to their online experience.
4. Engage Constantly
The biggest pitfall for any business today is lack of online engagement. Internet users today have a short attention span and they are spoilt for choice. If you are not responding to their concerns instantly, they will turn away and go to the competition. The greatest mistake you can do is to fail to respond to social media comments or failure to address complaints. Where possible, make sure you offer real-time feedback. This boosts your brand’s reputation and earns you customer loyalty.
5. Get Ready For Negative Content
The internet market is like a field strewn with landmines. You have to maneuver very carefully as a brand to avoid tarnishing your reputation. There are times when you will come up against misinformation about your brand but the way you react will determine how things turn out. It is important to learn form other brands that have faced reputation management crises.
Brands such as Tinder, AskSeaWorld, Heinz, Mountain Dew and Hyundai have had negative publicity with their online campaigns but they have found ways to deal with it. If you don’t have a plan to deal with negativity, you are not ready to build your online reputation. Knee jerk reactions can burn your business as is the case with Applebees and Amy’s Baking.
6. Listen More
Dealing with online comments can exhaust even the most steadfast marketer. Some of the bad reviews you will find are plain malicious yet they can’t be ignored. It is important to stay grounded and avoid arguments. The best approach is to listen more and even ask about the opinions of other customers. The idea is to keep improving your services with time and in doing so building a good reputation.
Every business today must have a workable online reputation management strategy. This not only helps build customer loyalty but also attracts new customers. Building reputation should be done from the early stages and as your business grows, make sure you review the success of the strategies you are using.