Name a business that recently lost not just customers, but also stock value through a major customer service/PR snafu. What about a highly paid celebrity TV star who lost a contract over his behavior? Or, less recently, a large international business with an environmental crisis on its hands? (Answers: Netflix, Charlie Sheen and BP respectively.) Each of these entities will now be lucky if the public can ever disassociate them from their actions—or more accurately, their responses.
The business of reputation management is an important one to consider now whatever the size of your business or personal status. Chances are you will never have to deal with a reputation disaster like those above, but laying the foundation for protecting your reputation will have a significant impact on the future of your business.
In a recent post on this blog, Christian Arno discussed Managing Your Online Reputation Across Different Languages and laid down the foundation for all reputation management: Know who’s talking about you and where. Arno mentioned Google Alerts as a great way to track what is being said online about your business. Other methods involve monitoring chatter across other social media or local business platforms.
Conduct an initial search for your brand and/or business across these platforms:
- Google; obviously the number one search tool, Google is the first place to start research into your online footprint.
- Twitter; it isn’t necessary to have a hashtag associated with your brand or business to search Twitter for names or keywords associated with them. Twitter is a very valuable search tool, especially when it comes to pinpointing exact references to anything related to your business.
- Facebook; recently Facebook launched a new tool called “People Talking About This,” which will allow page or brand owners to see conversations related to them in their Insights dashboard.
Other than the major three, other valuable sites to monitor are LinkedIn, Google+ and rating services like Yelp, eOpinions and the like.
Establish Your Domain
Now you need to establish your business pages on all those platforms you searched for information about your brand and business. Make sure you also own any domains associated with your brand and/or business. This will allow you to consistently establish your brand across the most seen platforms online. Also work with an SEO consultant or optimize your business pages yourself to make consistent use of keywords you would like associated with your brand and business.
A major part of both Netflix and BP’s PR and customer problems were caused by not addressing the negative situation head on. Keep the communication channels open, but consider your response to online attacks carefully. Allow negative comments to remain on your blog or social platform sites and listen to what the commenter has to say. But also be prepared to respond to highly visible attacks on your brand and/or business with a plan in place.
This plan could include designating a person to represent your company who becomes known across your social channels and responds to any commentary, negative or positive. It could include having a written script of responses prepared to draw the attention of listeners to more positive angles of the situation/company/product/ employee. It could even be simply thanking the negative commenter and asking them if they would like to email you more information about their issue.
Reputation management is essential for the success of your brand and business. Once you have laid a foundation in place like that suggested above, you will be able to easily keep track of your impact. Having a plan set to deal with negative attacks will also allow you the peace of mind to calmly address issues that have derailed much larger entities. Protecting the current and future reputation of your brand and business is an important step towards cultivating the success you want.