What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management involves a set of activities designed to maintain or create a positive public perception of a company, product or person. In today’s world, this takes place largely online. It starts with understanding what content exists that directly or indirectly mentions a brand and monitoring the channels where relevant conversations are likely to occur. Only after gaining a good understanding of what’s been said about you online can marketers and PR professionals begin steps to influence the public’s frame of reference.
Why is Reputation Management Important?
According a survey commissioned by American Express, consumers are twice as likely to share their bad customer experiences as they are to talk about good ones. The survey also found that, of people who use social media for customer service, 45% use it to “vent frustration with a bad service experience.” Customers have plenty of avenues for expressing their opinions about companies. Some, like Yelp, usually contain a mix of positive and negative comments. Others, such as Ripoff Report and pissedconsumer.com, were developed specifically for negative reviews. How bad is it if there is a link to Ripoff Report on the first page of the Google results for your brand name? Well, in another study, Nielson found that 70% of global consumers trust consumer opinions posted online.
On average, customers tell 15 people about their good experiences, but they tell 24 about their bad experiences.
How to Proactively (and Ethically) Address a Negative Online Reputation
There are several things you can do to protect your brand’s reputation and to recover from adverse content that may exist.
Provide Great Products and Services – Of course, the first step to having a great reputation is earning it by delighting customers. Certainly some people will complain about almost anything, but if there is a significant amount of derogatory content around your brand, it’s time to take hard look to make sure everything is being done to keep clients happy and deliver on promises.
Monitor Key Terms and Channels – You can’t address harmful online content if you don’t know it exists. TrendKite’s Reputation Management Platform provides you with a real-time, customizable media dashboard and news alerts to keep you abreast of what is being said about your company and products across the web.
Engage Directly With Unhappy Clients – In some cases it makes sense to post a rebuttal or reply to a client within the channel where they have posted the complaint. However, you should be careful about this approach because sometimes a reply from the company will cause a post to rank higher in a Google search and the original complaint, not the rebuttal, is displayed. It is usually a much better approach to reach out to the unhappy customer directly and attempt to resolve the issue. Once they are satisfied, ask them to delete or modify the negative comments.
Actively Encourage Positive Reviews – We know when customers are left to their own devices, they are more likely to share when they are unhappy, but that doesn’t mean the customers who love you most won’t write a review. It may mean you have to ask them. The best way to downplay a negative comment is to drown it in a sea of glowing ones. Take advantage of every opportunity to encourage your best advocates to review your brand and help direct them to the most impactful channels. This tactic is sometimes called “suppression” because the harmful content will quickly fall off of the first page of search if more current content is available on sites with domain authority.
As a Last Resort, Request De-indexing – Search sites, such as Google will occasionally “de-index” or remove content from the displayed search results. This only happens if the content is provably false and it usually involves legal council. Unless someone has made absolutely egregious claims against your company and you have evidence to support your position, a de-indexing strategy is likely to prove time consuming and unsuccessful. However, in the event demonstrably untruthful statements are made, it is an option of last resort.