Spooked by Online Reputation Management: How to Manage Chatter
Online chatter can dramatically affect a brand’s reputation, which could spook some businesses. Before the internet, a business’ reputation was largely based on word of mouth. These days, discussions unfold online. Your business needs to be part of that chatter.
Online reputation management (ORM) enables you to take control of online conversation, through developing strategies that influence public perception of a brand on the internet.
There are many benefits to having an ORM strategy including:
- Building loyalty with your current and potential customers
- Counteracting misinformation
- Positioning your business as an industry leader
On the other hand, of you don’t effectively manage chatter, it could damage your business as quickly as a wildfire.
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 ways to manage your brand’s online reputation:
Be proactive and respond quickly
A positive online reputation helps customers trust businesses, converts searchers into leads, and boosts local search rankings, as stated in the BrightLocal Online Reputation Management Survey. Therefore, it’s essential for businesses to tackle online reputation management directly and take a proactive approach.
When you immediately address an issue, with a neutral comment that demonstrates the positive aspects of your brand, you’ll not only show that you’re on top of what’s being said, but also will have an opportunity to stop that person from spreading more negative content. By posting more relevant information about your business, you’ll also push down negative comments. Another good way to build customer loyalty and stay engaged is to respond to positive reviews, in addition to bad reviews about your brand, products or services.
Implement a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign
PPC is a type of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their advertisements is clicked. Businesses with the highest bids increase their chances of getting the top spot in a search engine, when someone searches a keyword that’s 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.
A good way to promote your own content or “agenda” about your brand is to implement a PPC campaign. On top of promoting the positive aspects about your brand, you’ll also 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’s conflicting, that positive content could potentially supersede and diminish the strength of the negative comment.
Execute a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign
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. The higher your rankings, the more likely users will visit your site. 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 generating positive content. You’re also minimizing negative search results through this strategy.
Businesses also need to maintain a strong local SEO strategy, to come up in a branded search when someone is searching online for a specific product or service from a particular business. This happens when a user types your brand’s name or words related to it in the search box.
CMA CEO and founder, Jeffrey Barnhart, and other online reputation management companies shared their expertise on protecting small businesses’ online reputation with New Jersey Business magazine. In that article, Barnhart noted the importance of businesses being “found” on the internet and showing up in Google searches.
Establish a social media campaign
A major way to leverage SEO, drive your brand’s agenda and keep it front and center is through social media. That’s why it’s so imperative to have an established and active social media campaign in place.
When it comes to social media marketing, one size does not fit all. You need to choose the right social media platforms for each of your target audiences. Some businesses use a generic post for all channels, which is a mistake. Your post for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram should have different content and structure. The hashtags also should speak to different communication styles on each platform. As part of that, keep all of your social media accounts up to date, besides constantly managing and leveraging your social networks—not just for today, but for the long term.
SproutSocial reported on social media statistics including that many social platforms like Instagram continue to see steady growth in the number of users. Since 2014, the platform has been seeing a year over year increase of no less than 100 million in terms of monthly active users.
With this much social media user growth, sooner than later, your brand will appear in an online review. It’s important to have a social media plan in place, which will enable you to respond quickly in both public comments and private messages.
Monitor online activity
It’s critical to be well informed, at all times, about what’s being said about your brand online and especially on review sites. With web monitoring, including Google Alerts (free service) and Mention (paid service), you can submit key words to get immediate feedback about what’s being said about your business. This will help you get ahead and manage online chatter.
If a negative comment sits, it conveys 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’re allowing the negative chatter to 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.
The big take-away is that you don’t need to be spooked by ORM, if you have a sound strategy to preserve and protect your online brand. This will ensure that you’re in control and navigating your branding in the digital age. If you’re not in front of the chatter and ready to face it head on, you’re going to continue to fear it.
Do you want to effectively manage your online reputation? Contact us today, to start the conversation.