Spooked by Reputation Management: Managing Online Chatter

 In Public Relations

Online chatter can dramatically affect a brand’s reputation, which could spook some businesses. In addition to building customer loyalty, a positive online reputation can position your business as an industry leader. Conversely, if your online brand is not effectively managed it could damage your business. Before the internet, a business’ reputation was largely based on word of mouth. These days, discussions develop online. Your business needs to be part of that chatter or it will be left behind. According to Pew Research Center, the internet represents a fundamental shift in how Americans connect with one another, gather information and conduct their day-to-day lives. About half of all adults were online in early 2000. Today, roughly 90 percent American adults use the internet. If your business doesn’t have an established online reputation management strategy in place, it will be left vulnerable to a tarnished brand.

Here are five ways you can manage your brand online:

1) Be Proactive 

Seventy percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, while 60 percent say that negative reviews make them not want to use a business, mentioned in BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey. Accordingly, it’s essential for businesses to tackle online reputation management directly and take a proactive approach. By immediately addressing an issue, with a neutral comment that demonstrates the positive aspects of your brand, you not only will show that you are on top of what’s being said, but also will have an opportunity to stop that person from spreading more negative information. You can sweep away negative reviews and “bury the bad” by posting more relevant information about your business. Another good way to build customer loyalty and stay engaged is to respond to positive reviews, in addition to negative ones.

2) Implement Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

PPC is a paid advertising campaign. Businesses with the highest bids increase their chances of getting the top spot in a search engine, when someone searches a keyword that is related to a brand. Each time the ad is clicked, businesses pay a fee. Those advertisements can be found above and below the non-paid organic search results. Having a PPC campaign is a good way to push your own content or “agenda” about your brand. In addition to promoting the positive aspects about your brand, you also will overcome the negative commentary in a subtle way. For example, if there’s an advertisement that talks about your business’ excellent customer service, next to a negative review on social media, that positive message could potentially supersede and diminish the strength of the negative comment.

3) Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Unlike PPC, SEO is a non-paid way of gaining online visibility. An effective SEO campaign will gain and maintain maximum exposure, as well as top search engine ranking for your website. It’s often referred to as “organic” because it increases the quantity and quality of traffic to a website through non-paid search engine results. You want your business to show up in these results, which is creating positive content. One major way to leverage SEO is through social media. Be sure that all of your social media accounts are up-to-date, in addition to constantly being managed and leveraged.

4) Manage Social Media

Besides your website, social media is your forward-facing brand. Sixty five percent of adults now use social networking sites – a nearly 10-fold jump in the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Sooner than later, your brand will appear on social media, a review site or both. Having an established, active and positive social media campaign in place will push your brand’s agenda and keep it front and center. It’s important to respond quickly in public comment, as well as private message. When it comes to social media marketing, one size does not fit all. Social channels need to be leveraged for each of your target audiences. Some businesses use a generic post for all channels, which is a mistake. Your post for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter should have different content and structure. The hashtags also should speak to different communication styles on each platform. In addition, businesses should start considering video. According to What’s Next BIA/Kelsey 2017 Analyst Predictions, video will be the next big social advertising tool for small and medium businesses. Within the next several years, video and live streaming will be seen as a key advertising tool for all small and medium businesses, which is driven by technology on Facebook, SnapChat and YouTube platforms.

5) Monitor Activity

It’s critical to be well informed, at all times, about what’s being said about your brand online. Software, including Google Alerts and Mention, enables you to submit key words to get immediate feedback about what is being said about your business. This will help you get ahead of the chatter. If a negative comment sits, it gives off a sense that you don’t care or aren’t connected. In addition, that negative comment will feed into your online brand reputation. In that situation, you are letting the negative chatter dictate what people are going to think about your brand, versus you controlling that message. As a result, businesses need to respond quickly and meaningfully to any negative comments. If you do that, people will trust and respect your brand.

As a business, wanting to preserve and protect your brand online might seem like a tiger’s tale. If you’re not in front of it and ready to face it head on, you’re going to continue to fear it. Businesses can overcome that by getting a plan in place to ensure that they are in control and steering their brand messages online.

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