Online Reputation Management industry is worth millions. Online businesses hire reputation management services to maintain a ‘brand image’.
The Internet ecosystem today is vastly different from a decade ago. Those days, companies were not engaging customers online, they were selling to a passive audience. The communication landscape was ‘top down’ and people didn’t have ways to express their voice strongly but the situation has radically changed.
Websites aren’t static anymore. User-generated content and social interaction is a game changer. Irrespective of the nature of your business, people are talking about you – tweeting your services, posting a Facebook updated, commenting on customer experience and many more.
And frankly, you can’t avoid these things anymore. You need to take into account people’s voices and this is where the services of online reputation management come in because not everyone will speak kindly about a business and second, unchecked online publicity can malign business image.
Online Reputation Management Helps to Achieve Business Bottom Line
Look at brands like Kleenex – completely synonymous in the mind of the customer with the product they provide. Irrespective of what you and competitors are spending for the same marketing and advertising tactics, it is reputation that establishes a brand and drives revenue growth.
In the earlier days, word-of-mouth created and destroyed brands. It is the same in the global world, only that the mode of word-of-mouth functioning has changed. Today, it works with blogs, online review sites and social media displays.
These have amplified the mediums with which SME’s and big brands connect with the consumers. In retrospect, there is a need to monitor brand growth as well, which companies like Brand Mentions provide. Read the detailed Brand Mentions review to understand how it works and how it can benefit your SME. The tool helps to track business growth and generate leads.
Reviews Generate Trust
While an advertising campaign enables a SME to make claims, reviews are perceived to be natural and more trustworthy as they are user-generated. Search any product or services, chances are high that a blogger or forum will have published or discussed review about them. Take a resource like Yelp – many people use it to find customer reviews and recommendations.
Customers need information they can trust. A research piece on Business2Community.com sheds light on how consumers take decision. You can use this data in making your SME perform better.
- 65% of consumers prefer brands with good reviews visible online.
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as equal to personal recommendations.
- 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
- 37% of consumer search for local businesses and reviews every month.
- 71% people feel positive reviews raises the level of trustworthiness.
Getting people on a landing page is work half done. There is a need to push discussion beyond the offering towards trust.
It is challenging to generate natural reviews from customers, not because customers don’t want to give reviews but perhaps, the consumer is unaware of how it works or where to review. As such, it is important for a brand or product seller to provide a way for consumers to review.
Jen Merry from Fat Cow blog says:
“…allowing users to review your product or services say a lot about your company. Criticism can actually add credibility, especially if your customer service team responds in a respectable fashion. Showing that you’re actually listening and responding to complaints or problems can go a long way in the eyes of your customers”.
Let’s see some online reputation management strategies.
Online Reputation Management Strategies
Here are few recommended strategies:
#1 Remove Negative Links
Use tools like Brand Mention to check business presence. Try and remove negative posts, links or images. Contact the publisher and request to remove the item. However, note that on some sites like Yelp, posts are impossible to delete. Tread the path carefully.
#2 Generate User Content
Invite people to write on your blog. The write-ups need not be “reviews” of your products or services but cantered around it. Posting instructive and engaging articles weekly is crucial. You can also hire good writers and create a strong content plan to build a decent brand image.
#3 Active on Twitter
It’s common to see users reaching out to brand Twitter handle with complaints and queries. If not now, there will be a day when your SME will require strong Twitter presence. At that time, be polite and resist rising up to allegations. Be gentle and try to sort out queries and complaints. It will be tempting to tell your side of the story but a sound advice here is to avoid it – it will make things worse.
#4 Guest Blogging / Content Outreach
Publishing content on authority sites on behalf of your business generates good image. Follow topics that relate to your SME and pitch an idea for a guest article. Link the article back to the business website.
#5 Talk at Conferences
It is beneficial to be visible in public, in a way that generates positive news about you and the associated SME. Pick some topics you are comfortable with and reach out to local event organizations with a detailed pitch. Meetups and conferences are a great “offline” and online reputation management tool.
It isn’t hard to strategize an online reputation management plan. Be active and be aware.
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