How to Protect Your Online Reputation – Part 1
Everybody acknowledges the importance of on-line reputation. After you put your heart and soul into building your professional or corporate brand and encountering a negative article or review, it causes anxiety. It would be great to have a magic wand to make the link disappear from the Internet.
However, removing something from the Internet is impossible. But what you can do is to insure that those negative articles are pushed down Google’s rankings. This strategy is not the same as a magic wand, but it is real and works.
Here are some tactics that will help you take control of your online brand and get on the first page of Google.
Think Long Term:
If people are saying negative things about your online brand, you should not just maintain a list of the bad reviews that will be resolved eventually one day. You need to decipher the critical complaints, prioritize them and work towards resolving them.
What you don’t want to do is to tell yourself “We might have some bad reviews, just put it in the list and we it will be resolved eventually”, using that mentality will eventually drown your business because you don’t know what complaint is more critical than the other, all you will have is a messy list of to do’s.
You have to instill that mentality into your communications and customer service teams to not only read all the complaints, but to also categorize and prioritize them. Put these complaints in an excel sheet and look for the most common complaints.
For example, suppose you are an Internet Service Provider and you have someone complaining on Twitter about a slow Internet connection while someone else blogs about bad customer service, would it not make sense to input them in an Excel sheet stating the complaint? “Slow Internet connection” and “bad customer service” are a few that come to mind. Organize these complaints in one column and mention their source in another column. Here is an example:
Let’s say you receive 100 complaints about the speed of your Internet and only 1 complaint about bad
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customer service. You would want to prioritize your Internet’s speed over that one bad customer experience. Nevertheless, both complaints should be tackled as the customer service problem is probably an easier fix. Using a spreadsheet allows you to see all of your customer complaints in one sheet so that you can prioritize resolving these issues in an effective manner.
Actively Find Negative Articles:
After you have a system in place your goal should be to actively look for negative reviews and complaints. Remember, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You need to proactively search them out; you need to find and listen to what people are saying about your brand. Go out there and find these negative complaints before they snowball into something bigger. Ask yourself, what is this negative feedback and how can it be addressed?
Of course, this may be easier said than done. With the nature of the Internet in today’s age, you just don’t know where to start. Here are some places you should start:
1) Social Media:
Everybody has a voice in social media; always remember the importance of the customer’s voice in making or breaking reputation. A great tool for social media monitoring and engagement is HootSuite.
2) News & Blogs:
You can use Google Alerts as a free tool to catch things that is being said online. But if you would like something more robust, you can use Gnowit to get real-time notification of your brand’s mention. This is important because once you find a blog that speaks negatively about your brand, you can engage in the conversation right away.
If you want to specifically look for negative complaints, the best way to address them is to use Go Fish Digital Complaint. Put your brand name in the search bar and it will bring you results of complaints from all the popular complaint sites like the Better Business Bureau and the Ripoff Report. Here are some results I’ve gotten for “Burger King”
Once your monitoring system is in place, it is important to keep up to date with the opinions and concerns of your customers. If negative reviews arise, you should prioritize them and then address them immediately before they become bigger and spread. Positive reviews should also be addressed and the users who make those comments should be engaged and thanked. The Internet virality of customer satisfaction is just as powerful a force in shaping a brand as dissatisfaction and discontent.
Take Preventive Measures:
Your plan should not only be fixing your negative reach but, your plan should also include preventive measures. Unfortunately, most big companies don’t follow this practice. They tend to ignore requests and comments by the average Joe.
For example, If I am a communications consultant and a potential client on twitter, let call him Blake, asks me via Twitter what I think about the Sprout Social social media monitoring tool, and I’ve never used this tool, I just tell him I haven’t, but I also would ask him of his opinion when he gets the chance to use it.
Ignoring Blake’s question wouldn’t be a good idea as it may leave a negative perception in his mind regarding my expertise, my persona, or my customer focus. He would definitely be more prone to tweet about a negative experience regarding me in the future. However, if I replied to him honestly and asked for his opinion on the matter, something like “I’m sorry, I’ve never used that tool, but I would love to hear your thoughts on it when you get to use it!” I would have created a relationship with Blake and he may use my business or recommend me in the future because of the honesty and integrity positive engagement necessitates.Furthermore, everyone following our Twitter accounts would have seen our conversation and I would hopefully appear as an approachable person with a thirst for knowledge which is good for business.
Sometimes it pays to focus on increasing positive experiences and leveraging new customer interactions rather than having to repair negative experiences of a single reluctant customer.
In part two, I will show you how to truly take control of Google’s real-estate. Now that you’ve got your monitoring and reporting process in place, I will share in detail what you can do to create an online defensive shield for your online reputation.