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October 9, 2014

Reputation Management Best Practices

Econsultancy recently published an article about Online Reputation Management and the right and wrong practices for managing a company or brands reputation online.

Managing a helpful and customer focus presence online is crucial to any business. It’s unlikely that you don’t care about how your company or brand appear online. This needs to be reflected in how you manage your reputation and how you interact with your consumers.

At the beginning of any business, you do your upmost to satisfy and fulfil your customer’s wants and needs. As you find your feet with your business and excel, these customer centric needs tend to reduce and in most cases, a customer’s needs aren’t a priority anymore, but a burden. This shouldn’t be the case, not for any business. It’s because of those customers that you managed to succeed, if you forget about them then they are likely to respond negatively to you and damage your reputation.

Managing your reputation is all about the brand perception. If the brand satisfies your own goals and expectations, then it should be a brand that you’re happy to confidently and publicly present.

It’s been proven that by having a poor brand or company reputation, this can negatively affect sales, damaging a company’s profits and consumer base. If you wait until your reputation has been damaged to do something about it, then it’s already too late. Don’t wait until your reputation has taken a negative hit to do positively change it. It’s important to encourage a positive reputation early in order to avoid losses.

There was a case involving Gerald Ratner and an offhanded comment he made about the quality of the products his company sold, this has since been referred to as ‘crapgate’. This has also coined a new term ‘doing a ratner’ instead of ‘taking a liberty’. This comment led to the brand losing £122m and had to proceed in closing 330 shops. This kind of negligence and insulting talk about a company’s own business and products, is on par with shooting yourself in the foot.

Recently, Apple have had some press over two high-profile news stories surrounding the security of iCloud and their implementation of U2’s new album on to every Apple device owned and used. However, even with these two incidents, Apple have managed to weather the storm with their accruement of enough good will from their products and service.

The internet doesn’t have a lie detector. Neither do our brains. This makes it extremely hard to work out the genuine negative comments from the false claims online. Both are damaging to a company or brand, but only one can be managed.

Planning out the steps on how to manage your reputation is the only way to effectively cover all bases. You need to consider the brand awareness and come up with strategies for how to deal with differing situations. Negative reviews, service or comments are inevitable for most companies, this is due to human error and with the right steps they can be overcome to stop any damage from happening.

A long term solution will always beat a short term fix. Train your employees in how to positively speak to unhappy customers, encourage solutions and help them to deal with company or human errors. Always go to the route of the problem to solve any issue, don’t try and cover things up online. Fake positive comments and reviews about your brand online will stand out and you will be caught trying to hide behind fake profiles and comments. This can only lead to more negativity for your business.

The use of social media for a business or brand, is of paramount importance. It gives customers the chance to freely interact with you on a personal level and it also means your brand can adopt a voice and personality. It’s much easier to talk to someone with a personality than with someone who has a scripted, robotic and unsympathetic persona, which unfortunately, a lot of companies seem to present.

By utilising social media fully, employees and customers who use it will not only find it helpful and personable, but will also find it engaging. This helps to form brand ambassadors, a really important group of people for any busienss. By galvanising fans, you actively make them a part of your brand. Customers who feel linked to your brand are more likely to continue in support and encourage others to try out your products or services.

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