It seems that people tend to be much ‘louder’ when it comes to criticizing than praising: a negative experience can start an avalanche of rants across social media and before you can even begin to wonder why that person hasn’t contacted customer service at all, you have a fire that you need to put out.
This depiction might be slightly exaggerated but the reality is not much different. Your reputation depends on many elements and it is necessary for you to take this matter seriously and start managing your reputation so you can control the image your brand emanates.
Audit your online reputation
To know what needs to be worked on, you first need to know where you stand and preferably, to know the hard-cold facts. You can start by interviewing business partners, customers, friends regarding how they feel about your brand and prompting them to speak honestly. What you can do next is to simply google your brand name to see the results. There are different tools which can provide information when your brand gets mentioned by influential bloggers or someone on social media, as well as what they are saying. Another benefit is that you can learn the same type of information on your competition which might help you create a competitive advantage over them.
Respond to positive and negative feedback alike
The bigger your brand name gets, the more reviews you will have. As the business grows, it is most of the time difficult to have an eye on all business aspects and this is where customers’ feedback comes in handy. You can learn about your customer service level of pleasantness, an overall opinion about the brand, mistakes in the payment procedures, typos in the website product descriptions, and many other essential pieces of information from both positive and negative reviews. If you disregard the negative and only respond to the positive ones, you would seem like you have something to hide which is not good for your brand reputation, which is why you need to respond to all feedback. In this way, you will show that you take responsibility for the mistakes, that you appreciate their feedback, and that you plan to correct them.
Leverage on employee-generated reviews
Although most of the focus related to reviews stays on the customers, what your employees have to say about your brand is also immensely important. These reviews are the product of the quality of working conditions and relations with the company and a few angry comments about these elements, regardless of whether they are truthful, can leave a serious stain on your reputation. Instead of hiding from employees’ comments, you can claim your company profile on review sites, as PostcardMania has done on their Glassdoor page (visible as ‘Engaged Employer’ on the right side). This is how you would confirm your brand identity to anybody examining those reviews, while you can use these (mostly) unbiased pieces of information to improve your reputation.
Build a social media presence
Profiles on social media channels are a requirement for any brand wanting to be successful and to grow. Although you might have preferred channels, such as a Facebook page, it is important to create a profile across different channels (such as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) because somebody else can create a profile using your brand name and pretend that they are you. Also, social media platforms are by lively by nature and this constant flow of content in different forms allows for customers to be in constant contact with your brand and even though you need to be active on many fronts, this is the perfect opportunity for building a strong reputation and maintaining it. Naturally, you would have to be strategic about it but your efforts will be returned manifold.
Own your brand name domains
No matter how hard you work on building your reputation, the danger of it becoming tarnished might come from the outside. It’s true that many things depend on your business niche but there is no need to leave space for copycats to thrive on your hard-earned reputation. This is why you need to make sure you own your brand name across different TLDs (.com, .net, .org, .info., etc.) because you wouldn’t want people to search for your products and for another business to pop up on the result page. It goes without saying that, in the world of finances, many scammers have earner something on the side by impersonating certain companies and even though your business might not be from that niche, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You might feel somewhat uncomfortable knowing that so many factors influence your brand reputation, which is exposed in the world in which an anonymous word might carry more importance than your own. However, by staying objective and embracing it, you will find different tools, resources and strategies to improve it, if necessary, and most importantly, manage it.
Building a strong brand reputation starts with getting to know the present state through customers’ and employees’ reviews, after which you can become engaged and respond to feedback and implement changes that are good for all parties involved: the brand, employees, and customers. And remember, this is not a sprint but a marathon so take your time when concocting the right strategies.