As much as people and companies may think they do, no one owns their reputation anymore, and this is especially true for online reputations. Online marketing can be extremely overwhelming, and even large corporations with entire reputation management departments have trouble keeping up with everything that is being said or posted about their brands around the web. It’s a scary world for any business when anyone with an internet connection can essentially say anything they want about your company, sharing and posting it for all the world to see.
Unfortunately, for many companies whose reputations have been harmed by bad publicity, it can be extremely hard to bounce back. Some may never recover. However, it’s important to remember that bad online publicity is not the end of the world for most businesses and there are a few things you can do to get back on your feet again.
- Have a game plan. The first step in battling a war with bad publicity is to have a plan of attack. Online reputation management can be a lengthy and complicated process, at times involving multiple people in your corporation. While the best course of action is to have a single employee in charge of your brand’s reputation management, this is not always feasible in every corporate budget. In such cases, simply having the work delegated appropriately and scheduled out can make all the difference – know who is responsible for monitoring search engine activity, who is responsible for responding to complaints, and who is responsible for engaging with customers on social media, etc.
- Monitor your reputation closely. The only sure way to prevent bad publicity from affecting yourself or your company is to stop it before it even starts, and the only way to do that is by closely monitoring how your brand appears in search results. This means that you need to be Googling both the name of your company and the names of any key players in your company, as well as any other important keywords associated with your company, on a daily basis. Bad publicity tends to have a domino effect and can spiral out of control quite quickly, so when determining your best plan of attack it’s always good to be aware of your brand’s current standing.
- Be aware of what personal information might come up. The personal lives of scandalous CEO’s are far more interesting to the public than are their every day business decisions and activities. This means that non-business behaviors must be closely monitored and kept under control, and this applies to the past as well. It’s always a good idea to be aware of things from your past that might be used against you in the future – this kind of preparation can ensure that when surprises arise (and they will arise) that you are ready to face and address them quickly and with your head held high.
- Claim your company listings across all directories. Directory listings can be extremely useful sources for driving traffic and generating positive publicity, but because directory listings can be claimed by nearly anyone with the right access information, severe damage can be caused when directory listings fall into the wrong hands, such as those of a disgruntled former employee. Getting your listing back after someone else has claimed it can be difficult, and oftentimes the damage has already been done, so it’s wise to prevent such situations before they occur.
- Respond to complaints and negative reviews quickly and efficiently. If the complaint is valid, than owning up to your mistakes as a company can actually make you look better than if the review had been positive. Listening to your customers shows that your company team is compassionate and cares about their customer service, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make things right again. Whenever possible, respond to the complaint publicly so that other customers can see how it was addressed, and try to look at the complaint from the customer’s perspective. Most importantly, never take the defensive when drafting your response, even when you know the customer is wrong. Your other customers likely don’t know the whole situation or your side of things, but they don’t need to – businesses always need to take the high road and offer solutions if they want other customers to still respect them.
- Engage with your customers on social media. Online directories are not the only venues for customers to voice their complaints and problems. Many are taking their complaints to social media, posting negative comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Google + Pages, just to name a few. For this reason, it’s a very good idea to establish a strong presence for your company or brand on the same social media sites where people are talking about you, so that you can not only engage with your customers, but you can find out what they are saying about you to their friends and address these issues appropriately.
- Reward and encourage positive reviews. Customers tend to trust online reviews, and oftentimes use them as their basis in final purchasing decisions. For this reason, it’s easy to see why having a large number of positive reviews for your company could be extremely beneficial. How does one acquire more positive reviews? By encouraging respondents to leave reviews of any kind, and by offering certain incentives for doing so. When a customer receives a coupon, gift, or even a simple note saying “thank you” after leaving a review, then they are likely to be left with a positive impression of your business and share the positive experience with their friends. The logic is simple: if a company was offering you a free gift just to hear your feedback, would you be more likely to say something positive or negative about them in return?
- Create quality, honest content. A great tip for not only just reputation management, but for the industry of SEO as a whole, is to create a site filled with quality, frequently updated content. This not only gives your brand more authority, but is a powerful tool for flooding the web with positive information about your company. However, the quality content you create must always be honest, so resist the urge to flood the internet with fake positive information or reviews. Search engines can actually penalize you heavily for this, and it can cause much more harm in the end than potential good.
- Publish positive media content. Oftentimes the most embarrassing or hurtful information being spread about a person or company comes in the form of images and video. For this reason, it’s extremely important to monitor the media search results that are coming up in Google and other search engines. Posting more images and videos that portray your company in a positive light can push the negative media towards the bottom, and while nothing on the internet truly ever disappears, you can do your best to make sure that the right information is being displayed.
- Stay focused and start big. While the important first step in reputation management is to develop a plan of attack, perhaps the most important thing to remember is to stay focused and proactive when carrying out that plan. Online reputation management can be a difficult and lengthy process, and it can take many months before you see the results that you are looking for. Many get discouraged along the way, but those who stick with it see good results in time. And with reputation management it’s always good to start big. Address the places where bad publicity is most public and being seen by the most people, and you’ll quickly notice a trickle-down effect into lesser-known sites as well.
If you’re looking for the right SEO marketing agency to take on your online reputation management services, then consider Damonaz Designs, a Naples web development and online marketing company. We offer a variety of affordable packages across a multitude of web and marketing services, and our qualified and skilled team is dedicated to your success. Call us today at (239) 244-8350 to discover what Damonaz Designs can do for your reputation on the web!