If you own a business in today’s modern world, you know that it’s no longer a question of whether you have an online presence or not. It’s now a matter of what that online presence is. You need to know how people perceive your brand and whether that perception matches the one you want established. It’s not wise to just let things fall where they may when your online reputation is involved. Businesses can’t just let other people determine what their brand is, they should be the one on top of it controlling the narrative.
This is where online reputation management comes in.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is the practice of taking charge of a brand’s reputation on the web. It involves constant monitoring and making sure that the perception of a business stays on the favorable side by boosting positive content and decreasing the visibility of negative content.
Why is online reputation management important?
Everyone is online these days. Your customers have social media accounts, your competitors have a website, and your prospects are scouring forums for product reviews. There is no escaping the power of the internet and how it’s become the ultimate source of business for a lot of brands.
Studies have shown that 75% of potential customers delectrician check reviews first before they make a purchase and four out of five of them choose the competition after reading one bad review. That’s eighty percent of new customers lost due to a possibly mismanaged online reputation.
Take control of what your customers see online and don’t let others – your dissatisfied customers or competitors – do it for you. Or it’s eighty percent of your new customers out the door before they even reach it.
How do you go about managing your online reputation?
There are a lot of details involved in successfully plotting and executing a good online reputation management strategy. Depending on how big your organization is and how much of a presence you already have online, the amount of work and time needed will vary. But the three things that are consistent no matter what when dealing with managing your brand’s online reputation are: 1) establishing where you currently are reputation-wise and your goals, 2) fixing any damage and working on accomplishing your goals, and 3) making sure you keep the goals you’ve reached.
Determining Your Online Reputation
Before executing any steps in managing your brand’s reputation online, it’s important that you figure out what the baseline is so you know how much work still needs to be done. Here are some important questions that will help steer you towards a good start.
What is your audience saying about you?
The most common sources that determine the general opinion about your brand are blogs, forums, social media, and review sites.
Go to these places online and type in the name of your business and check out the results. Are they mostly complaints about your product or service? Do they show your brand in a positive light? Is your website on the first page of search engines or are other sources shown first? The results will give you an idea on what your potential customers see and what their first impression might be when researching about you.
It’s important to note specific quotes and complaints or praises so you have a more concrete idea on how you’re being perceived online. This will also give you a more rounded view of your online reputation goals.
What are your reputation goals?
The Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland said it best when he told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there.”
The same truth applies to reputation management. You can’t just be general about your goals. “I want a better online reputation” will not do. You have to be specific in what you want to happen. Is your business being bashed in forums? Plot a game plan on how to combat that. Does the competition keep on posting untrue reviews about you? Find a way to make them stop. Does your brand need more positive reviews? Get strategizing to encourage happy customers to share their experience with you.
It also helps when you divide your goals into immediate ones versus the mid-term and the long-term. That way, you can prioritize better and can audit your accomplishments more clearly.
Is it necessary to conduct a reputation audit?
Yes. Again, you won’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t mark where you started. Write down all measurable info about your current reputation online, compare it to your goals, and set a game plan on bridging the two. Some of the most common things you can measure in your audit are:
Your brand’s average customer rating on review sites
The number of positive results on Google when searching for your business
The number of likes you have on Facebook
The number of complaints your help desk receives in a specific period of time
Your brand’s Klout Score
These are just examples of measurable data you can base your goals and strategy upon. It’s also essential to remember to set a timeline for these items so you know how often to conduct your audits and adjust any items needed.