Your online reputation can make or break your business, period. It’s likely that before anyone considers buying your products and/or services, they’ve checked you out on Google and social media platforms. The information, links and reviews usually help them decide. Something as simple – yet vital – as an incomplete Google My Business page can influence a consumers’ decision. Online reputation management is a business necessity – there has been a seismic shift in the balance of power.
There has been a change in the power balance
‘91% of searchers don’t go beyond Page 1, and Google is your new business card […] being proactive is now a necessity, and if you’re reactive, the reputation damage has already been done — catch up isn’t a game you won’t really want to play,’ comments Nadia Munno, President of Massive PR.
The axiom ‘your reputation is everything’ has never been truer than it is today. There has been a seismic shift in the balance of power between business owners and consumers in the vast digital landscape. The latter has the potential to make a massive impact, positively or negatively, on a brand’s reputation.
Social media’s power provides consumers with the ability to distribute information to a massive, varied audience within seconds. A social media influencer’s complaint can be posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, go viral and ruin a brand.
A hypothetical example of how to fix a negative online reputation
You own a restaurant. It’s been making a decent turnover, but the clientele has been lessening over the past few weeks, and your month-end balance sheet reflects a significant drop in income.
You log in to your social media channels, and BAM, there is a slew of negative reviews and complaints on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Popular restaurant review apps such as Zomato and Hello Peter are chock full of scathing comments. What’s happened? While you figure that out, you need to build and execute an online reputation repair plan.
What to include in an online management damage control strategy
You may be tempted to make a bold statement disputing the reviews and slamming the naysayers’ reputation. Don’t; this isn’t the time to make emotionally charged decisions. You need to keep a level head and build a carefully-thought-out marketing repair strategy. It’s recommended that you speak to a professional business consultancy that can suggest the actions that need to be taken to implement them for you. SEO and social media technical analyses will work together to determine optimal repair touchpoints.
SEO experts can assist you in burying harmful content by optimising your site effectively. It’s recommended that a site audit is performed to ensure your CMS is as SEO friendly as possible. Once this is complete, meticulous keyword research can be conducted, determining the most popular terms and questions consumers are asking. From there, targeted content can be written to increase your ranking on SERPs.
You must post content frequently. According to Medium, “Companies that published 16 or more blog posts per month get 4.5x more leads than companies publishing four blogs or less per month.”
An on-page and off-page SEO repair strategy will take time to make a difference. Still, consumers will eventually see your company moving up the SERPs, which shows you’ve taken the initiative to address and restore your reputation.
Hand over the social media reigns to the experts. The following services are what your brand needs to build up its reputation.
- Social media strategy planning
- Tracking implementation
- Community management
- Data measurement and reporting
After a discussion and assessment of the issues, they’ll likely recommend that:
You own the mistake
Announce on your social media platforms that you accept what has taken place, address it immediately, and post an update on the progress as soon as possible.
Monitor and measure available data
Social media professionals can implement tracking for different metrics. This will allow you to gauge the situation and use it as a benchmark from which you can analyse whether your recovery strategies are achieving the desired results.
Reposition your social media presence for the moment
This is not the time to announce the latest menu items. While you’re in the process of brand reputation recovery, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and cater to their emotions. Instead, focus on client retention; perhaps compile a list of specials and punt them on your social media accounts.
There is nowhere to hide from the public anymore, so ensure that you have nothing to hide. It’s best to be open and honest. Please put your cards on the table and prove to consumers you care and believe in your brand and are willing to put in the hard work to restore their faith in your business. Also, take whatever type of feedback you’ve received and address it accordingly.
Tripp Donnelly, Founder and CEO of award-winning brand management agency REQ, provides these sage words, ‘These perceptions will define you. This means that what’s out there matters – and it will continue to matter. The news cycle may evolve quickly, but your digital footprint never disappears.’
Positive consumer perception of a successful brand is crucial. There will be times when you stumble, and your reputation takes a hit, but never let that define you. There are ways to rebuild your brand. The only question you need to ask yourself is if you have the willpower and grit to face the challenge?