Managing your brand’s reputation can feel like a full-time job, but it can be simplified if you have a structure to follow. Your reputation is arguably the most important asset you have as a business, so it’s definitely worth giving it the time and energy to get right.

Your reputation through both word of mouth and online reviews, as well as mentions in the media, is what will drive customers to you, and keep old customers coming back. It can take time to build, and it’s easy to destroy if you aren’t proactive in your approach.

1. CHECK YOURSELF OUT

Have you ever wondered what the world thinks of you? Have you ever wished you could read peoples’ minds and know whether they liked what you bring to the table?

Luckily we haven’t mastered telepathy as a species, as that would just be awkward. As a business, however, you have this fantastic tool at your disposal called the Internet. It’s free, and it’s the best tool for monitoring how your business is being perceived by the world.

Specific tools you can use include Google Alerts for monitoring key phrases such as your business name and the services you provide. Chartmeter and Social Mention alert you whenever someone mentions you online.

Any good reviews or mentions you can amplify by reposting or sharing on social media. Any bad reviews you can address quickly and efficiently before they become a problem.

Monitoring your online presence also gives you the opportunity to see how your competitors are doing, and to learn from them. While it might seem discouraging to see how well other people are doing in the area of your business, treat it as a learning opportunity to hone your own service. You don’t need to copy what others are doing but you can certainly learn from them.

If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could check out the Johari Window Model to improve your self-awareness in business.

Do: pay attention to what the world is saying about your business, use online tools, and check out the competition.

Don’t: be afraid to see what people think of your service, or be put off by your competitors.

2. MAKE LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS

Today anyone can leave a review about pretty much anything online. If someone has a bad experience with a service or company, they can let the world know in just a few clicks (sometimes even mistakenly reviewing the wrong company!). This can seem pretty daunting for a lot of businesses. The customer is always right, goes the saying. So if someone leaves a terrible review online, then that will surely drive away further customers, right?

Actually, no, and here’s why: how you respond to a negative review can be more important than the review itself. The occasional conflict or negative experience is inevitable, and everyone knows that. It’s rare for a company to consistently get 5-star reviews online, because it only takes one customer to bring the average down to a 4.9. In fact, people don’t trust a perfect review trend anyway.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, negative reviews are actually a great opportunity for you to display your professionalism. You can show anyone reading your reviews what to expect in the event that they are dissatisfied with your service. It’s almost like a real-life FAQ.

Do you respond quickly and in a friendly and professional manner? Do you offer to speak to the customer directly to resolve the issue? How do you resolve the issue? These are the things to bear in mind when responding to a review. Keep the reputation of your brand in mind when interacting with customers both online and offline, always.

Even if the customer is being unreasonable. No, scrap that, especially if the customer is being unreasonable. You can try using timeboxing to help with answering quickly and managing your workload.

Online reviews shouldn’t be a war of words about who did what – we’ve all seen people take out their frustrations on an unsuspecting business through the medium of the internet. Many of us will have seen businesses enter into a sparring match with the reviewer. It’s rarely a good look. Part of owning and running a business sometimes is about staying calm in the face of adversity.

Few people expect a perfect service all the time, but what they do expect are fairness and consistency. To err is human, but to humbly, swiftly, and professionally address the error – that’s great reputation management.

Do: address negative reviews quickly, offer to speak with the customer directly, and stay professional and friendly.

Don’t: ignore a negative review hoping that it will disappear, take weeks to respond, or respond defensively.

3. HONE YOUR CONVERSATION SKILLS

There is an art to brand reputation management, and a large part of it revolves around writing. Ideally, you want to boost your presence in search results so that you appear on the first page of Google or Ecosia (or whatever search engine your customers prefer to use).

There are a few ways to do this. You can get a really good copywriter to create great content like “What is SaaS?” and generate traffic to your website. You might re-use existing material and repackage it in order to save time and money and create a consistent feel for your brand. You could spend some time investing in your social media accounts and reach out to people through those platforms.

Whatever you choose to invest time in, make sure you are using carefully chosen search terms and hashtags so that people can easily find you online. In order to manage your reputation, you need to first build a reputation to manage!

Start the conversation through blogging or social media posts. Create content for your customer base to engage with. Control the conversation by directing the flow and picking the topics of conversation, and feel free to repost positive posts from satisfied customers.

And whatever you do, don’t let your social media accounts or website fall off people’s radar. Keep regularly updating them. There’s tons of information online to help you nail your content strategy so be sure to take advantage of it.

Do: blog, repurpose content, engage with your audience.

Don’t: let your online presence become a deserted wasteland.

4. BE AUTHENTIC AND TRANSPARENT

Authenticity is often thrown around as a buzzword in the marketing world, but to manage your brand’s reputation you need to be authentic in the true sense of the word. You need to uphold the promises you make and the values you endorse. This applies both to your online presence and your offline presence, both with customers and your colleagues and employees.

You want to offer an in-store or in-person experience that is in line with the impression you give on social media. If you are professional, warm, and helpful online, make sure that extends to real-world interactions as well.

If you proclaim to care about your customers’ needs and expectations, extend the same courtesy to your co-workers. With websites like Glassdoor where employees can review their companies, as well as word-of-mouth, social media, and news articles, if employees aren’t happy, it could put some customers off your brand.

As well as responding well to negative reviews which we covered above, it’s a good idea to encourage people to leave reviews in the first place, both positive or negative. Asking for feedback builds trust and shows your customers that you care about their opinion, are mindful of their experience and are open to change and criticism. You could link to a feedback form in a purchase confirmation email, for example.

You also want to make sure that you keep your word when it comes to discounts. If you offer 20% off someone’s second purchase, make sure that they can easily claim that discount. If you have a prize draw on social media, make sure that you announce a winner in the time frame stated. This also makes for a great marketing opportunity.

Being on time is another important aspect. If a product is going to be released on a certain date, make sure that it actually becomes available on that date. If you advertise a certain release date on social media or via email, you might lose your customers’ attention if you delay. A cloud application can help with keeping timetables and plans, easily available for colleagues working in different locations.

Do: keep your promises, uphold your brand’s values at all times.

Don’t: drop the ball with offline situations, confuse your customers with incorrect information.

5. STRATEGIZE

Having a clear strategy for managing your brand’s reputation is a useful resource you can rely on. Short and long-term goals, KPIs, and specific activities are necessary.

You can create a simple flowchart or sales call script to take the guesswork out of different scenarios. “If scenario A happens, then we do B”. Taking the example of someone leaving a bad review, you could create some stock responses to edit as required. You could also set a reminder to check your reviews once or twice every week so that it becomes systematic rather than haphazard.

It isn’t only bad comments you should be responding to, however. If you’re creating content online which people are commenting on and resharing, you can like or otherwise acknowledge them. They’ve taken time out of their day to engage with what you’re putting out, and it makes them feel appreciated to receive a response.

It also shows them that you’re not just a money-making enterprise, but a collective of people with goals and ideals. Responding to comments and reshares should also be a systematic thing, which is why a lot of companies hire social media managers.

If you want to raise brand awareness or increase sales through competitions, make sure you have a clear goal in mind, and that you are able to measure the success of your campaign. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook offer analytics of your posts so you can see what went right and what didn’t quite work.

You can also learn how to optimize your email strategy to make the most out of emails.

Do: make a plan, be systematic, use analytics tools.

Don’t: forget to respond to social media comments, leave your campaign up to chance.

6. BECOME AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD

A great way to enhance your reputation in your field is by establishing yourself as an expert. You can do this by firstly doing your research so that you really become an expert in your field. Study and learn from your competitors and colleagues in your industry.

You can even reach out to people doing similar things and offer to share and exchange knowledge. It might even be in your best interest to hire consultants and trainers for your staff. If your staff knows their field really well, that will show. Video calling is one way to train your staff when everyone is working from home.

You can relay your expertise through the content you produce for social media and your website, and you can make a habit of writing articles for LinkedIn. You could also hire a copywriter to produce content for you. The important thing is to show your expertise through your content rather than just trying to sell.

Do: invest time and resources for learning.

Don’t: just try to sell.

MAKE BRANDING WORK FOR YOU

It’s extremely useful to become aware of your presence on the internet, keeping your finger on the pulse so you know what’s being said about your business. Negative reviews aren’t overly worrisome if you know how to handle them, and responding in a timely manner to both positive and negative comments works in your favor.

Make sure to periodically engage with your customer base through social media and blogging, and be the same offline as you are online.

You want to have a clear plan of action for managing your brand’s reputation. Finally, you also want to make time and space for your staff to learn and become experts in their field, which is something that will show through your engagement with your audiences.

6 Vital Dos And Don'ts of Brand Reputation Management - pin

Author’s Bio:

Patty is the EMEA Product Marketing Manager for RingCentral Office,  a leading private cloud computing company that provides VoIP and video conferencing services . Patty is passionate about creating value and differentiation, ensuring a better experience for customers and partners. She gained a wealth of international product marketing, product management, GTM and market development experience, across a range of high-tech SaaS in a fast-paced, hyper-growth environment that assumes both strategic and tactical execution. She is not new to UC, starting in Tandberg, then Cisco, driving the launch of video collaboration and services, and Enghouse with global responsibilities for hosted CCaaS.

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