A noob’s guide to Online Reputation Management

Hello, everyone. Now that you how to write a good blog for your company, I am sure you would want to use it to strengthen your online presence. This is the noob’s route to what-how-why of online reputation management.

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In today’s world, “online reputation” IS your reputation because user-generated media can make or break a brand when it fails to deliver good service or product. Gone are the days when Phineas T. Barnum’s famous words echoed, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”. An accidental tweet on Twitter or customer complaints on other social media can seriously put a dent in your company’s reputation.

While customers cannot be prevented from talking about products in the social-media age, certain measures will surely help you to manage the Twitterati.

These simple “commandments” will definitely benefit you and your company:

1. Turn customers into advocates

By encouraging honest customer feedback, you earn the respect of people and build better relationships. One such company is Canada’s largest retailer-Canadian Tire, which started the “Tested for Life” badge that was only given to products after receiving a seal of approval from customers.

Advocates

Image Courtesy: visioncritical.com

2. Monitor what they say about you

Man your social media 24/7. These days, lots of people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they are evaluating whether or not they should buy from you.

Monitor

Image Courtesy: Twitter.com

3. React promptly

In the case of a complaint, a prompt response of “We have noted your complaint and will get back to you soon” will notify the customer that someone is looking at his or her problem and that a detailed response will be supplied later.

React

Image Courtesy: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com

4. Address and understand criticism

Criticism might be constructive if you understand it in time and take the necessary steps in the future. But, if criticism takes a turn for the worse, it should be addressed properly.

In 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s WSJ op-ed on Obama healthcare reform caused a controversy among Whole Foods customers. Two days later, the company provided a response statement recognising that there were “many opinions on this issue, including inside our own company” and invited people to share their opinion on the matter on the Whole Foods’ Facebook page. They also tried to clear certain misconceptions about the subject by answering some comments.

5. Your Google ranking matters

Google is at everyone’s fingertips. Before you hand over a business card, the person has probably Googled you and they know all about your company. Hence, your Google page rank and the bio displayed on the page are your first impression. To obtain a higher Google ranking, engage in SEO-search engine optimisation techniques.

Linking all your social media and websites into a comprehensive package will equip the customer better. Use SEO-friendly language in your website and social media. Hence, whenever someone Googles your name, it will appear on page 1 or 2 of the results, which will be much more important than your business card or website.

6. Fight when you’re right

Sometimes, we may be in the wrong and have to punish the people responsible for it. In 2009, Dominos employees posted a disgusting video of themselves playing with food and they had to be fired. On the other hand, people may accuse you of wrong doing and post bad things about your company. In such an event, you should counteract the negative information before resorting to a lawsuit. Some ways to handle the situation:

  1. Try to request the users to withdraw their comment and assure them that proper action will be taken.
  2. Take responsibility for the mistake and respond to the claim at the earliest.
  3. In the case of social media comments, always give a personalised response and try to provide a solution. Social media is a public platform that anyone can access at anytime where people evaluate your written words.

If the above methods don’t work or there are serious attacks on your brand’s image, then get the matter investigated by cyber specialists and legal experts.

7. Learn from your mistakes

“In every mistake, there is a potential for growth”, so try to take responsibility for your mistake and strive to correct it. In the world of social media, mistakes may be over-hyped but acknowledging and preventing them in the future will boost your image.

In case of mistakes, take responsibility and turn it around

It is rightly said that “Prevention is better than cure”, but in case you face a social media nightmare, stay calm and on fleek. Certain companies like Dominos, Nestle, Maggie, etc. have all faced the heat of customers due to their mistakes. But the turning point for them was how they managed the hysteria and got back on the horse by apologising and improving their quality.

One such company that made the best of poor customer feedback and social media backlash is, Woolworths Limited – a supermarket chain in Australia and New Zealand. In late 2014, A Woolworths customer and Facebook user, identified as ‘Ryan Goodall’, posted the below picture on Woolworths’ Facebook page with the following feedback:

 Story Courtesy here

Ryan’s picture of the rotten avocados on Facebook

Ryan’s picture of the rotten avocados on Facebook

His post says:

“Dear Woolworths, Here I was having a good time with my mates, just sitting around eating some steak and brocoli (which I got from you guys), when I decided ‘oh I know what would turn my average everyday meal into a extra creamy mouthful of meaty sensation (no homo). A perfectly ripen avocado!’ As I cut into the strange shaped food my eyes quickly changed from having a certain spark of hope and desire in them, into holding nothing but disappointment and despair.
As you can see from the picture below, the avocados I bought tonight are not really living up to the whole ‘Woolworths the fresh food people’ idea. I am not calling you guys liars but if you guys have a slogan maybe you should live up to it.

P.s. I want you to know I am not angry, I am just disappointed.

Ryan’s comment with Woolworths’ fantastic response

Ryan’s comment with Woolworths’ fantastic response

But instead of getting bogged down or agitated by such a comment, the Woolworths team wasted no time in posting the following response:

“Ryan the Disappointment is more than we can bare! Private message us your number and we will hook a brother up.”

The team responsible for maintaining Woolworths’ social media accounts were applauded for their prompt and funny response to what could have been a fiasco for the ‘fresh food people’. Whilst the avocado incident had the potential to start a wave of negative complaints from customers recalling their bad experiences and damaging the brand value, the short and sweet response triggered a domino of applause. Some consumers even went as far as creating humorous memes in honour of the Woolworths’ tact in dealing with the complaint. The initial post received close to 35,000 likes and over 2,500 shares.

Praise for the Woolworths

Praise for the Woolworths

This incident demonstrates that receiving negative feedback on social media doesn’t have to be a disaster. Rather, it can be a great opportunity to connect with your customers and turn it around for your brand image.

Be in control of what your brand is projecting to the world. Your business reputation is one of your greatest assets, and it should be treated as such. Protecting your online reputation is important because it can affect your bottom line. When the public has immediate access to spreading their thoughts and opinions online, there will always be some criticism. Monitor social media well and respond to comments in time, as this will give valuable feedback of the customers. In the case of negative comments, you can look into the matter and rectify internal problems and also apologise to the customer and provide solutions online. Building a good relationship with customers via social media will give a boost to your brand image as well.

Thus, understand the importance of your online presence and reap the benefits of the digital era.

For more information on online reputation management, please refer these sources:

https://brandyourself.com/online-reputation-management

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/guide-to-bouncing-back/

 

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