Why Reputation Management Should Be Your Top Marketing Priority – Continued
We received feedback that while the importance of doing it is all well and good; how to actually take action is another matter.
As a continuation of that blog, we are offering some thoughts on how to take action regarding online reputations.
It’s Important To Remember …
The most important thing to realize is that no matter what the size of the business, your prospects, customers, vendors, anyone and everyone are talking about you.
One of the most recent business commandments is “Be transparent.” Opening up to criticism and feedback seems to be beneficial for companies that embrace social media as a high priority.
- Allowing employees to talk about products and services publicly
- Establishing a 1-to-1 communication channel
- Asking for feedback
- Not hiding criticism, and addressing it publicly
Most SMBs Do Not …
Easier said than done! Most small and medium sized companies do not invest much on communication, and they struggle with this concept. As a result, their efforts usually are incorrect or inconsistent.
Being transparent is risky. But in the long run, not being transparent is riskier.
- What if your product/service sparks too much criticism?
- What if your employees are not social media savvy?
- What if your competitors take advantage of this?
The Two Types Of Negative Content …
In the online reputation management scenario, there are two types of negative content that companies should be aware of. One is represented by complaints on social networks. They need to be addressed properly, but unless your company has serious problems, they do not pose a real challenge to your business.
They are very powerful because, unlike social network content, they are prominent in search engine results.
What if someone googles your brand name and finds defamatory content? Let’s see what they are:
- Negative reviews: Review sites allow users to express their opinion on your brand. Did they like your service/product? Would they recommend it? Negative content can affect your sales, and addressing the criticism on the site may not be enough. Websites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer provide the perfect platform for this kind of negative content.
- Hate sites: Some people go beyond simple negative reviews and create ad hoc websites with their opinions, some of them containing illegal content. So-called “hate sites” sometimes address companies and public figures with insults and false information. Needless to say, a search result like “The truth about NAMEOFYOURCOMPANY” or “NAME scam/rip off” will make your potential customers run away!
- Negative media coverage: P. T. Barnum used to say “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” That may be true for controversial public figures like Paris Hilton, but many times unfavorable TV, print, and online media coverage impacts negatively on companies and brands.
Some Negative Content Is Illegal …
It is obvious that everyone has the right to express their voice about your brand. There are, however, certain boundaries that need to be respected. Some of the negative content online actually is illegal. Why?
- It uses defamatory language
- It reports false information
- It is aimed at damaging the company’s reputation
How To Defend Your Reputation …
How do you react to all of this? How do you defend yourself or your company from this kind of illegal behavior? Depending on the scope of the problem, several paths can be pursued in order to restore your online reputation:
- Aggressive SEO: If someone Google’s your name, appearing on page 1 and 2 of the search results will be much more important than your business card or website.
They will show at a glance several high ranking web sources talking about you. If they display false information, the first thing that you or your online reputation management company should do is devise a search marketing strategy that increases the ranking of positive content, owned by either you or third parties.
The search engine game is too important to be ignored, and it is the first step in restoring your image.
- Review removal: Did that user claim something false about your company? Is that review clearly aimed at destroying your reputation rather than providing feedback? Does it contain improper language? Legal liaison and speed of reaction will make it possible to remove the negative review.
- Online investigations: In case of serious attacks to your brand image, it may be necessary to hire skilled online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers via email tracing, data cross-indexing, and other information collection techniques. Cyber investigations are the definitive path to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.
In The Digital Era …
In the digital era, nothing is protecting you from criticism anymore.
This is good from a freedom of speech perspective; bad if your company has been defamed and attacked.