Perception is reality, and in today’s digital landscape, a negative reputation can be the kiss of death for any business or brand. That’s why online reputation management is such an increasingly important, field. As online search inquiries and review sites come more and more to dictate a business’ bottom line it becomes imperative for companies to play a more active role in guarding their online reputation.
The question is, how can companies guard their online reputation as effectively and efficiently as possible? Manually Googling your business name day after day may be somewhat effective, but who has time for it? There are better strategies that companies can implement, such as the five listed below.
1. Automate your monitoring.
The first step is to ensure that your reputation monitoring is fully automated. The obvious solution here is to set up Google or Bing alerts for your brand name, as well as any branded products that you have, the names of your chief executives, and more. You’ll receive updates in your email inbox whenever these terms are invoked on the Web, enabling you to keep an accurate and up-to-date assessment of your company’s online portrayal.
Google and Bing Alerts are effective, but not necessarily perfect or comprehensive—which leads to our next point.
2. Use an array of reputation-monitoring tools.
There are plenty of other online tools, most of them free, that you can use to monitor your company’s online reputation. A few that are especially noteworthy include:
- A tool called WhosTalkin offers a thorough evaluation of your online mentions, including social media mentions, making it, in some ways, even more comprehensive than Google Alerts. It also takes into account images and videos that are marked with your branded keywords.
- Social Mention is helpful for monitoring what users are saying about your brand on social networks.
- Technorati enables you to peruse your keyword mentions on blogs.
3. Offer your customers chances to vent.
No matter how vigorously you monitor your online reputation, there may come a day on which your company is hit with a negative review. That can prove disastrous to your online reputation and your bottom line.
[FREE DOWNLOAD: Timeless secrets for rocket-powered writing]
One way to avoid this is to provide your customers with more constructive ways to vent. Tech support forums and easily-accessible contact forms through which your customers can submit their inquiries or their concerns may help funnel some of their frustrations or their dissatisfaction away from sites like Yelp.
4. Encourage positive reviews.
Another approach is to be proactive in asking clients to leave reviews on your online review profiles, such as Yelp, Urban Spoon, or whatever else. You can’t really stop negative reviews from cropping up, but you can suppress them and minimize their impact by surrounding yourself with positive reviews. Reach out to your best, most loyal customers and ask them to give their two cents.
5. Respond to negatives.
What happens when your online reputation monitoring endeavors reveal a negative comment or review? The first thing to do is to take a deep breath and compose yourself. Never respond in anger or in haste.
From there, offer a humble and sincere response to anyone who has a legitimate beef with your business, offering to make things right for that customer. If the negative review is the work of a cyber-bully and is simply defamatory, however, you may be better off simply ignoring it. Any response you offer is only going to fan the flames and make things worse.
Mike Zammuto is the president and COO of Brand.com. A version of this article originally appeared on the Walker Sands blog.