With 2015 well underway, it is crucial for businesses to stay firmly acquainted with the ever-changing world of Reputation Management. As a business owner, if you stay proactive in your approach to managing your company image you will be able maintain a positive online reputation. This week I will be discussing the top 10 tips to refresh your Reputation Management in 2015.
The Rise of Online Reputation (Reputation of the Brand)
According to a survey conducted by YouGov, 8 out of 10 American adults read online consumer reviews for products and services before committing to purchase with 79% trusting an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, consumers are now forming opinions about businesses much faster than they did 12 to 24 months ago. Meaning that if you have a mixed online presence, you may lose potential clients if they land on negative links first.
- Be Proactive in Your Approach
First and foremost, the ability to recognise a potential threat before it occurs is crucial. If you can avert a crisis before it happens you are, at the very least, creating a spring board from which a positive reputation can flourish. Find out what the online world is saying about your brand, your employees and your executives and develop a concise monitoring system.
Listen to the feedback and study the data. This will give you an indication as to whether or not there is a potential crisis brewing and will allow you to strike at the heart of the problem before it is out of your control. For a new business, this may be particularly beneficial. Implementing these steps allows you to keep a clean slate clean.
- Compile an Inventory of Customer Opinions
This one can go hand-in-hand with the first point. As a business and brand it is important to have aspirations and strive for improvements. Once you know what people are saying about your brand online, act upon that. This is not just an attempt to avert a crisis, it is an opportunity to fine tune your business to the requirements of the consumer. Be flexible and adapt.
Paul Winum, a senior partner at leadership-development firm RHR International LLP, commented on the importance of personal development in business: “Many people have high IQs but low emotional intelligence. To develop that, someone needs to become a student of manners, active listening, paying attention to other people’s feelings and communicating more effectively.”
- Develop a Consistent Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a marketing strategy whose success hinges on the creation and distribution of consistent, valuable and relevant content. Google loves new and interesting content and a marketing strategy should focus on your brand, your products and your services.
The importance of content marketing can be seen in the data collated from the Content Marketing Institute. This data showed that 92% of marketers surveyed employ the use of a content marketing strategy; up from 91% in 2012, and this number grew throughout 2014.
- Be a Responsive Business and Take Full Advantage of Social Media
We’ve already touched upon the importance of listening to and adapting to your customer base. While social media can serves as a platform for spreading negative content about a business, if you are already abreast of what your customers are saying about you it can be a valuable asset. Running a responsive business through social media gives you the opportunity to develop a more personal, interactive relationship with the customer that would otherwise not exists. Failing to responding to customer questions, feedback or even complaints creates an atmosphere of indifference on your part that customers will perceive as a lack of commitment.
We a company engages its customers through social media its brand becomes reliable and dependable. Merely sharing content on social media is not as effective as it once was with the internet making it easier than even for companies to engage their customers. So an act as simple as following up on customer comments is an easy way to increase positive feedback.
- Embrace Mobile
This is again all about engaging with the customer. Not all consumers will be viewing your website on their laptop or desktop computer and if it is not optimised for mobile viewing you may be losing potential customers who don’t have time to navigate a clumsy site on their mobile phone. To put this into context, business and technology leaders Forrester, estimates that by 2020 every 1 in 5 sales will originate from data collected through mobile devices.
For every business it is now vital to understand the importance of location-based engagement as a means to acquire new customers and, at the very least, every business should have a website and content designed with mobile users in mind.
- Create a Blog
Building your own blog is the first step to your content marketing strategy, but it is essential to populate that blog with quality content. Your content needs to reach and appeal to the consumer so that they share it in their own circle. Several websites suffered when Google released the Penguin update, an algorithm change that was designed to combat spam, poor quality and black-hat link building techniques. Black-hat link building is a practice that increases page rankings through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service. Creating quality, factual and useful content is a must if you want Google to recognise it.
- Keywords and Link Building
Consider your keywords carefully and take some time to collate these keywords. Keep these keywords to one or two phrases at the most and can include your company name, your own name or brand. These will then be used to promote positive content that will push down the negative. Create a link building campaign on your website, blog and social media channels. Use your keywords and key phrases in the anchor text for best results.
- Embrace Innovation and New Trends
Similarly to designing your website with mobile users in mind it is also important to stay abreast of the latest innovations in mobile integration and personalised search results. If you spot a new trend gaining momentum don’t be afraid to implement changes, if it takes off, your company could be at the forefront of a new innovation or trend.
- Use the Right Tools
Make sure you employ the right tools when it comes to gathering customer feedback, reviews and so on. The day-to-day running of a business is an intensively time consuming process and many business owners will fall short on reputation management for this reason. There are many tools available designed specifically to streamline the process of gathering customer data. If you are yet to incorporated processes and tools that capture and deliver customer feedback across all websites in real-time, then don’t delay it any longer.
- Be Consistent and Persevere
A crucial aspect of creating and maintaining a positive reputation online is to remember that it does not happen overnight. Don’t treat your company reputation as a separate part of the business, put as much focus on it as you would with any of the core values of business strategy.
For Companies who are striving for a robust reputation in 2015, but cannot commit to these tips, it would be of further benefit to engage a professional Reputation Management company such as Igniyte who can meet their online reputation needs while they focus on their own business strategy.