The Ins and Outs of Online Reputation Management


Published: April 27, 2020 Author: Jason Holicky - Hometown Design Studio Inc.
The Ins and Outs of Online Reputation Management

Reputations are important to all of us, but in particular, a brand’s reputation has the capability to make or break that business. Online reputation management has become increasingly critical for maintaining your brand’s image as the speed at which people can communicate (and therefore bring your brand’s rise or demise) is blinding.

The good news is that not every negative comment is going to spell disaster. None of us are perfect and mistakes are going to happen no matter how careful we are. The key is to be diligent when managing your reputation and work to spread the positive while mitigating the negative.

Social Media & Online Reputation Management
Many things will be out of your control in terms of what’s said online about your company. One thing you do have lots of control over is what goes on your social media feeds. Your posts are one of the best opportunities to emphasize something that you want customers to know about you and build trust in the process.

As you build your brand’s image on social media, your audience will have a chance to interact with your company. These interactions can range from a simple click of the Like button to back-and-forth conversations via direct messengers. People will also have the chance to contribute to your brand’s reputation as they create posts about their experiences with your company or share news they’ve come across online.

In other words, there can be a lot going on in a social media feed, and not all of it is coming from you. That means that monitoring these conversations is essential for managing your reputation, but not everyone is staying on top of the game.

What You Should Be Looking For
A lot of companies are great at answering direct messages and replying to comments made on one of their own posts, but this is often just a small slice of all the conversations that are happening about your company. To dig deeper into online reputation management, start by regularly checking all the notifications from your social networks and pay attention to some of the less-obvious ones such as mentions and shares. Why were you mentioned? What was shared? Did anyone comment on the shared post?

It’s also important to regularly check popular review sites such as Yelp and Google My Business to look for feedback. You may also want to periodically search Google and use the search features of the social media platforms you participate in to find what’s being said about your company and your products or services. Sometimes people will mention you or your brand, but not “tag” or otherwise link your social profile so you won’t see any notifications.

Always Take the Time to Respond
It’s easy and usually intuitive to respond to the nicer things that people are saying, and even some of the negative comments, too. A quick thank you for something positive, a genuine appreciation for constructive feedback for anyone who offers it. Few companies are struggling in this department.

Where the struggle comes in is finding the right way to engage with people who are truly upset. The most important thing to remember here is to always be authentic and sound like a real person when talking to an angry or disappointed person. The fastest way to escalate an upset customer is to make them feel like a bot or automated response is “handling” their anger.

When responding to an unhappy customer, always start by acknowledging the person’s concerns, even if you feel they are unfounded. If you think their complaint is invalid, their disappointment is real and needs to be addressed. Explain any circumstances that might be relevant (i.e., short-staffed), but make sure you’re not offering up excuses. Offer a resolution if it’s possible, and then try to move the conversation offline by providing direct contact information. The last thing you want is for a negative situation to continue playing out in public.

Responding to negative reviews, comments, or social media posts is important not only to preserve the relationship with the original customer, but also to let others see how you handle problem situations. Remember, mistakes will happen and most people who read about these incidents aren’t going to cancel you just because of one event—unless you handle it poorly.

Online reputation management is much like real life: if a customer is complaining in the store, it’s not as if everyone else is going to drop what’s in their hands and leave. But they will probably listen to see how it all goes down, so make sure you’re saying things that everyone wants to hear.

Encouraging Positive Interaction
One of the best ways to stay on top of online reputation management is to promote positive interactions. For example, send a follow-up email after a purchase has been made with a link to leave a review and feedback. Most people only think to leave feedback after a negative experience, but prompting happy customers will help build your positive scores.

It’s also important to talk about the positive things your company is doing outside of regular business and customer service to encourage conversations around those topics online. If you’ve made eco-friendly changes to your processes or are supporting a local charity, for example, talk about these activities on social media!

Reputation Management is Ongoing
The most important takeaway you should have from this post is that online reputation management is an ongoing project. Making sure you’re addressing any negative conversations and encouraging favorable ones takes diligence and commitment as people are only using the internet more and more. If you drop the ball for a long period of time, your reputation—and your bottom line—may suffer.

If you’re ready to take control of your online reputation, but too busy making sure your customers are happy, we can help! We can not only monitor what’s being said about you online, but also create responses and engage in conversations to make sure everyone online is as happy as they are offline. To learn more, contact us today!

About the Author

Creative Director Jason co-founded Hometown Design Studio of New Lenox, IL in 2013. He spends his days guiding and consulting industrial clients and small businesses owners on their marketing strategy and projects. Jason enables everyone to be successful and grow their business by sharing his knowledge and experience.
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