Online reputation management fails are usually messy and unforgettable. Unforgettable because the internet never forgets. Messy because of massive visibility. Sound online reputation management must acknowledge first that there is a reputation risk that is a shadow to any brand.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”—Benjamin Franklin.
Maybe we can start by defining what Online Reputation is. In simple terms, your online reputation is information that can be found about you or your brand when someone searches for your brand online.
Online Reputation Management, is all the activity of managing your brand image online including actively monitoring mentions of your brand on websites and social media.
Most experts will tell you what to do, but very few will tell you what not to do.
What should you not do when someone on their website or social media accounts posts content that is damaging to your online reputation?.
What should you not do when you find a maliciously negative review about your brand on a reviews website?.
Here are the online reputation management mistakes you need to avoid.
#1. Responding Immediately And Forcefully
When your brand is attacked online, and especially when you feel it is malicious or unfounded, there is always a very strong temptation to respond immediately and as forcefully as possible. The effect of such a response can be a trigger for more negative responses. New negative comments will result in the reviews remaining high on search engine results for much longer.
In such an event, I advise you to stay calm, and strategically respond, by either getting your loyal clients to respond independently in your defense. This means you must have built a reservoir of goodwill with your loyal clients. Or you can provide a well structured, credible perspective from your official channels. Beware not to put out fluff, discerning consumers or your competition will have a hay day with that.
#2. Responding To All Negative Reviews
Please remain calm at all times. Remember, comments on the internet sort of take the trajectory of conversations in the real world. If you respond in a heated tone, more often that not that you will get an even hotter response. If you engage in a shouting match on the street, even those who were not concerned will now pay attention. Sometimes it is wise to ignore unfounded claims or content posted on a platform with poor credibility.
There is a popular saying that would be fitting here. That you should never wrestle with a pig. Because you will get dirty but the pig will enjoy it.
The thing to watch out for is that this only applies to sites with poor credibility or unfounded claims.
Take proactive steps and ensure you take note and evaluate different parameters when anyone mentions your company on the internet.
#3 Always Being On The Defensive
Most businesses approach reputation management with a deny, deny, deny approach. This is not the best way to be on top of your reputation management game. Admit when mistakes are made and apologize as sincerely as possible. Where is possible to make amends, do so. Research has shown that customers are more likely to continue patronizing businesses that sincerely apologize when they break customer trust.
Here is the 6A strategy for apologizing by Paul Oestreicher and Heena Chavda.
• Acknowledge something has happened. Accepting responsibility creates the foundation for a future relationship.
• Show an authentic expression of regret. A true expression of remorse is heartfelt, real and something the audience can feel.
• Use appropriate tone and language. The mood, tenor, and words must fit both the person apologizing and the audience for which the apology is intended.
• Choose an acceptable venue. Location determines who and how many will receive the message, and it will help set the tone of the apology.
• Act within the right time frame. Delay or hesitation could result in mounting suspicion and a missed opportunity to correct the situation.
• Announce the next steps. Demonstrating how the offense won’t be repeated can be vital in rebuilding trust and reputation.
#4 Paying Social Media Influencers To Respond On Your Behalf
There is a misconception that when an individual with a huge social media following defends a brand when its reputation is on the line saves the day. This approach is fickle and at best counterproductive. A brand needs to be in charge of its reputation. Having a third party representing your brand especially when there is a negative issue being dealt with comes across as insincere.
Influencers only add any semblance of value when they are brand ambassadors and truly communicate the value of using a product or service long before any reputation issues crop up.
#5 Not Planning For Negative Online Reviews
Some business owners do not have an online reputation management plan. They wing it until one day, they find themselves in hot water and have to run around looking for solutions. Even in the reputation management context, it still is true that failing to plan is planning to fail.
Always have a proactive reputation monitoring and content going in readiness for any eventuality.
Ensure you put out news-worthy content about your brand on your websites, social media accounts, and other paid platforms regularly. Also, ensure your loyal customers give you positive reviews. Because rainy days will eventually come and you need to be prepared.
#6 Hiring A Quick Fix Reputation Solution
Some unscrupulous entities will sell a business a quick fix solution to wipe out all negative reviews from Google results. When you hear such promises, run. Because the same way it takes a while to build a good reputation in the real world, it takes time and effort to build a good brand image online. It takes more than a few Facebook posts for people to change their perspectives about a business. People tend to believe a brand that has a consistent story over a long time more than one that wants to appear today and tell us a million good things about themselves.
Removing negative search results from the first page of search engine results requires a large amount of time and work. Companies that wish to combat negative reviews on review websites or social media platforms like Facebook need specific tools to track the brand image and expertise to push positive stories. And time is also an important factor.
#7 Completely Ignoring Online Reviews
Some brands have little or no presence on the internet and as a result, tend to believe they have nothing to fear. This is an Ostrich approach, burying their head in the sand and hoping the worst won’t happen. In this new world of digital advertising, social media, Google search, and savvy consumers, one cannot neglect to be in charge of their brand on the internet.
For you to be able to respond, you need to be on the same platforms your clients and competition are in. And you need to be listening to the conversations that involve your brand.
It is equally important to know what not to do as much as it is important to know what to do when it comes to online reputation management. I hope you have learned a few things about how to handle review sites and manage your brand’s reputation online. Feel free to share this article for others to learn and benefit from this guide.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on Online Reputation Management or any area of digital marketing.