How To Manage Your Reputation Online

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And it’s a mantra that is doubly true for both individuals and businesses online. When a user has literally millions of other websites at their fingertips, they won’t ‘give you the benefit of the doubt’. They’ll simply scroll past and find someone else.

So – have you thought about what people might find when they Google your business name? And whether it’s the sort of ‘advertisement’ you’d want?

Controlling what people say about your brand is becoming an increasingly difficult task. A great website and pages of positive press coverage can still be undermined by negative comments on review sites. And that’s even before the prospect of something negative being spread around Twitter…

Of course, other than providing faultless customer service 100% of the time, there’s no way you can stop people having the odd moan online. What becomes more important is how you react to it.

Be Aware
The first and most important aspect of keeping your online reputation in check is being aware of what is being said. There is no opportunity for you to jump into a conversation and defend yourself if you don’t even know that conversation is going on.

Set up Google, Facebook and Twitter Alerts to monitor what is being published online about your brand or business name. This will at least give you a heads up if someone has posted a negative review or tweet, or if a newspaper article has painted you in a bad light.

Respond
This is a judgement call – but if a complaint is valid, you can often win big brownie points by responding personally. It also gives you a chance to engage with that customer and potentially win back their loyalty.

Perhaps someone has misunderstood your product and so is unfairly complaining about you – responding gives you the chance to politely put the record straight and then go ‘above and beyond’ in trying to solve their problem.

Alternatively, by connecting with someone who has had a bad experience with your product or service, you give them a chance to air their frustrations directly with you – thereby hopefully stopping them from simply posting all their damaging negativity online for anyone who will listen.

Tact and a little bit of humility can go a long way towards making someone feel better about their grievances. Be empathetic and try to help resolve their problem. And of course, don’t get into a slanging match! Otherwise you could find your problem magnified ten-fold!

As a number of brands have shown, it is possible to turn a user’s view from negative to positive. Indeed, really effective online engagement with a disgruntled consumer can even turn them into an advocate of your brand. – And that’s the sort of online chatter you want circulating around the web about your company.

Final Word
Don’t forget – the old saying that ‘today’s headlines are tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’ doesn’t ring true online. Once a story or review is posted, it’s unlikely to ever be taken down. So if you can’t prevent it going up there in the first place, at least try to turn that negative into a positive by ensuring your response can also be seen.