Why Reputation Management Should Be Your Top Marketing Priority

 

rep-mamanegemntIf you think that online reputation management is only for famous individuals or big brands; think again.

With the incredible rise of social media sites, including employer review sites like Glassdoor, which we wrote about in a past blog, monitoring and managing your online reputation is more important than ever.

You’ve Spent Years …

Imagine; you’ve spent years building your business.  You’ve invested time, sweat, and money. You’ve missed dance recitals, soccer games, anniversaries and more, as you’ve worked to create your business. And finally, it looks like things are going well. Maybe you can start to relax a bit.

Then you notice that the phone calls have stopped, new customers have vanished and you can’t understand why.   After all, you’re still providing the same excellent service; your existing customers love you, but the business is beginning to really struggle.

Finally, Your Learn That …

Cold-calling-not-to-be-fearedFinally, you learn from an existing customer that your company has some very negative reviews posted online. It suddenly dawns on you that your online reputation is presenting a twisted perception of reality that is actually killing your business.

Sound like the plot of a bad movie?  Unfortunately, it’s happening to hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses every day.

Your #1 Marketing Priority Must Be …

reputation_title_ENYour number one marketing priority has to be focused on your online reputation.  

Why?  All of your other marketing efforts, whether they be online such as SEO or social media or offline such as direct mail, radio, print advertising, etc. will ultimately lead the consumer to learn more about you online.

There, your less than sterling or a non-existent reputation, drives them away.

Power has shifted away from business and toward consumers when it comes to voicing a company’s marketing message.  While companies used to carefully craft their message and then promote it using traditional advertising methods, social media has largely transferred that power to consumers.

The Sheer Number Of Voices …

Online_ReputationAnd the sheer number of voices involved has made reputation management far more difficult. That, combined with the diffuse nature of comments, complaints and negative feedback makes damage control much more difficult than it used to be.

Let’s look at one case in point:  When a server at Applebees took to Reddit last year to post a customer receipt containing negative remarks, the company fired her for violating “Customer Privacy”.

In a Facebook status update following the Reddit post, the company defended their actions stating: “We wish this situation didn’t happen…..Our franchisee has apologized to the guest and has taken disciplinary action with the team member for violating the guest’s right to privacy.

Generated Over 10,000 Comments …

In a short amount of time, the post generated over 10,000 comments; the majority of which were highly critical of the company’s response to the situation.   Applebee’s response was to delete comments, block users and post a generic response to all of the rest. This is definitely a case study of what not to do.

What Should You Do?

So, what should you do? The first is to respond quickly and non-defensively.  Negative reviews can spread like wildfire.  By responding quickly, you make certain that your point of view is read at the same time as the negative message.

Reputation_ManagementMake your response as professional as possible under the circumstances and offer to take the conversation offline.

Inviting someone to speak with someone in authority demonstrates recognition of the importance of what they have to say and their importance as a customer of the company. And there are benefits to a good response.

According to research by one software company, every three consumers who receive a response to their online complaint end up re-posting a positive review.  In addition, 34% end up deleting the negative review.

Don’t Delete Comments …

dont-hit-deleteDon’t delete comments unless absolutely necessary. Unless a comment is racist, offensive or otherwise in very bad taste, deleting a negative comment or review is usually a bad idea. It is generally perceived as covering up an issue or admitting guilt.

There are many other steps a company can take to manage their online reputation, especially using search engine placement to make current, positive reviews the things that most people see. And that is only the beginning.

The Most Important Thing Is ….

fix-online-reputation-management

The most important thing is to make your online reputation a very high priority in your marketing program and to develop a system that ensures that your biggest fans are louder than your typical enemies.

The payoff is worth it.