What are people saying about your brand online? What do your reviews on Yelp, Facebook and Google look like? What does you social media presence “tell” potential clients about your brand? All of these considerations determine your business’s online reputation, the status of which can make or break your professional credibility. So, are you currently doing enough to protect your brand’s online presence?
Why Reputation Management Matters
Why exactly is it important to protect your brand online? On the surface, this may seem quite obvious—you want consumers to look favorably upon your company, right? But imagine you were looking to hire a top-notch employee candidate or to partner with a powerful online influencer. Negative opinions about your business can scare off potential hires, influencer partnerships and, of course, customers.
84% of people trust online reviews as much as they would trust the recommendation of a friend, so you can’t afford to let bad publicity slide. According to the Harvard Business School, every one-star increase in your Yelp score can net you an extra 5–9% in revenue. That’s a lot of money down the drain if you aren’t proactively managing your online reputation.
What Brands Can Do
Brands aren’t helpless when it comes to how their reputation takes shape on the internet. There are a number of actionable steps they can and should take to protect themselves online—and they’re not as time consuming as you may think.
- Respond to negative opinions and reviews on social media and sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and so on. You might be able to convert a naysayer while also publicly demonstrating your commitment to a good overall experience for every customer.
- Keep your ads and content off unsavory sites. Who your brand associates with dictates how users perceive you—a sentiment shared by over 2,200 brands that requested third-party vendors pull their advertisements from far-right news platform Breitbart.com due to its overwhelmingly conservative stance and strong pro-Trump message. People and products want to align with messages that they can get behind.
- Treat your personal social media pages as an extension of your business. We’ve seen how Facebook treats our personal data. Even with maximum privacy settings, don’t put anything out onto the web that you would be ashamed to share with colleagues, business partners and customers.
- Use .SUCKS as a forum for online reputation management. Don’t just sit on your domain, give your customers a platform for feedback—then take their feedback to heart.
- Learn from the Kardashians. Spin the story to your advantage, plan ahead, intervene and apologize earnestly when things go awry.
- Solicit reviews—the right way. In 2016, Amazon cracked down on “incentivised reviews”. Know the review policies for the sites you are targeting and make sure what you are doing is above board.
Brands can be fragile, and one wrong move can undo a reputation that took you months or years to build. As such, it is absolutely critical that brands explore every avenue of self-protection online to safeguard themselves not only against online haters and trolls, but against their own mistakes too.
Your brand deserves to stand on its own merit rather than being cobbled by faulty online buzz, so ensure you get ahead of the issues and have an emergency plan for when things go wrong. Stay vigilant and be receptive: your customers will take notice and appreciate the efforts you’re making. Your brand’s image and reputation are some of its most valuable assets, so it’s well worth taking the time to protect them properly.
Vulnerability sucks and can come back to bite you if you don’t take precautions nowーbefore it’s too late.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / aodaodaodaod, Shutterstock/ sitthiphong, Shutterstock / Jacob Lund