Nowadays we do not step out of our houses without looking up the reviews of places on Google. Star ratings and customer reviews have a big impact on how places are perceived by potential target audiences. A single bad review can bring down your star rating by a great amount, thus affecting your business in a major way.
But it’s not just reviews that people look at. What others talk about you on social media and other websites also matters a lot.
The quality of your online identity, in other words, is the lynchpin of your success.
The inference is clear: You need to maintain your online reputation to stay in the game and remain ahead of your competitors. This blog can act as your one-stop introduction to creating your very own Online Reputation Management Strategy.
Online reputation management includes managing three major things:
- User-Generated Media:
User-Generated Media is anything that people are saying about you online voluntarily whether it may be positive or negative, or on social media websites in the form of posts, comments, or reviews.
- Self-Generated Media:
Self-Generated Media is also a part of your online reputation and it includes items such as your social profiles and website. Self-Generated Media is all the items that you completely own and can modify to your liking.
- Paid Self-Generated Media:
Paid Self-Generated Media includes any sort of paid promotion that you do as a brand including sponsorship or pay per click ads.
For ORM, your reputation on all these three aspects must be properly managed. Now that you know the types of your online presence, the following are a few pointers that explain how you can manage different aspects of your online reputation:
1. Bad Reviews
Bad reviews are what greatly bother most businesses, and to make it worse, bad reviews often cannot be removed or changed very easily. But that doesn’t mean all hope is gone. There are several different ways you can address bad reviews for your business online.
First, understand whether the problem lies with the product or service that your business offers – or with the disgruntled user.
If the problem lies with you, then address the core issue first. Think of the review you got in a constructive fashion, and should you notice that a change on your part is required, then identify and execute that change.
Then reapproach the disgruntled user with a sincere apology as well as a note of thanks for pointing the problem out to you, and ask them to retry your product or service. Chances are that they will be willing to humor your request and give things one more shot. If they are satisfied, they will most likely update the review themselves, or at this stage, you too can gently nudge them to update or reconsider their review.
If the problem lies in the user’s domain where they either misunderstood or misinterpreted something, then in a very kind manner explain or show them how they have made a mistake, misunderstood something, or used your product incorrectly. Users who look at reviews don’t just look at the reviews themselves but also the responses. And a well-intentioned response can not just restitute the damage done to your reputation, but even improve it.
Remember the following pointers when responding to reviews online:
- Always be civil
- Never use demeaning or patronizing language
- Never argue
- Never become defensive or aggressive
- Always give detailed responses and then lead the users to FAQ pages and such rather than just dropping a link and expecting them to do the legwork. Yes, it’s repetitive, but it pays off.
Sometimes the users are disgruntled by the world itself #deep and will leave false reviews that may damage your reputation, or they may be past employees or angry lovers of someone who works at your business (yes, that happens, I know it’s sad). In some cases, it may be possible to report the review and request the parent company where the review was laid to remove it. It doesn’t work in most cases, but where it is properly used, it can get a false bad review removed very easily.
Beware: Don’t try to abuse this review-reporting system and only report those that are provably false!
2. Search results
Bad search results about you, your product or business appearing first are the worst type of exposure that a potential client can get. Such reviews will cost you, clients, even before they become your clients, and turn away even those who may have been searching for you, excited.
To remove negative search results, you can take the following measures.
De-indexing is a legal approach where you can send Google a legal request to remove a search result. If the search result in question contains any personally identifying or protected information such as signatures, account numbers, tax IDs, or such, – or sexually explicit images taken without consent, Google will certainly remove the item from its search index.
2. Promoting Positive Content
Another way to deal with bad search results is to push it lower in the Google search results by creating and aggressively promoting new content using methods like SEO, SEM, and SMM.
3. Addressing the Source
The third way to deal with bad search results is by addressing the publisher of the content itself. You can request them to remove with or without monetary compensation, request them to reconsider, thirdly you could simply ask them to place a tag on the web page that tells search engines to ignore the page rather than the index it.
4. Social Media
Social media is perhaps the most dangerous place for a business as small mistakes can spawn outrage mobs to aggressively attack and defame you. It’s a business for them, and chances are – if you are a person or company of any importance at all – then you will be a target.
Such attacks almost always, due to the very nature of social media, snowball into greater issues than they should be. It is best to address outrage before it takes up the pace, and Beware: Outrage mobs can even get you de-platformed. Furthermore, outrage mobs attract trolls, which can cause your business further damage. Yes, it can become a S***Storm.
Keep these pointers in mind for addressing people on social media:
- If you made a mistake, own up to it and apologize for it
- If you genuinely haven’t made a mistake but are under attack from an outrage mob, DO NOT APOLOGISE, NO MATTER WHAT. Defend your position
- Always be civil and respectful even if the other person is being disrespectful
But how can you keep a watch on social media and clip issues before they snowball?
It is wise to keep a good watch of what people on social media are talking about you. Manually it is nearly impossible to do, but there are various listening tools that can be utilized to monitor social media mentions.
This was just a brief glimpse of the things you must consider in order to create your own Online Reputation Management Strategy.