The Definitive Guide to Online Reputation Management | Vicinus.ai
“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and just five minutes to ruin it. Remember that, and you’ll do things differently”. These wise words by Warren Buffet capture the essence of managing your business’s reputation – be it online or offline online reputation management.
Think about it! When was the last time you picked a new restaurant without reading its review on Google? And, reading reviews before trying out a product or service is not restricted to dining and entertainment alone. Buyers heavily rely on what others are saying about your brand online all the time. In fact, a whopping 93% of customers read reviews on the internet before making a purchase.
This is a considerable number to fathom, but it makes two things clear –
- Online reviews can be a make or break for your business
- You need an Online Reputation Management (ORM) blueprint
What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?
ORM is all about setting a positive online narrative around your brand. This way, you represent your business fairly for prospects who are looking to purchase your offerings. In no way is ORM about planting reviews or paying for implicit publicity.
To begin setting a narrative, you must first proactively monitor what is being said about your brand across the digital spectrum. Pay close attention to negative reviews more than the positive ones and react to them empathetically and publicly.
Why Does Your Online Reputation Management Matter?
Believe it or not, your online reputation is everything today! Think of the online reviewing of brands as digital word-of-mouth marketing, turning prospects either towards you or against you. Here is a comprehensive overview of why your online reputation matters and why reputation management is critical.
It Influences Buying Decisions
It’s obvious, isn’t it! Online reviews carry the total of personal brand experiences of customers bound to influence your prospects’ purchasing decision. Moreover, reviews act as a significant differentiator between you and your competitors. It’s not unusual for prospects to choose one brand over another simply because one is reviewed slightly better than the other on one portal. Reviews also play a significant role in shifting age-old brand loyalties.
Online Reputation Management Allows You to Earn Your Customers’ Trust and Loyalty
Sure, your prospects want to build trust before purchasing from you, and reviews are a great way to get there. Honest online star ratings weighted further by subjective views display transparency and helps customers trust your brand. To further boost loyalty, you must understand the value of negative reviews and make sure not to take them down. In fact, a few negative reviews only show that you don’t have anything to hide.
It Can Influence Organizations Who Want to Invest in Your Business
It’s worth mentioning that if your business wishes to expand, it will seek investors. You will perhaps go public with your business. In such a case, your brand’s online perception will carry massive weight in letting investors decide whether they want to take a chance on you or not. Simply put, manage your online reputation well and create a standing among your future investors.
Who Failed at Online Reputation Management?
It helps to study failures more than applauding successes. And, there are a couple of biggies out there who failed at online reputation management. It’s time to live and learn from them:
Here is a dinosaur brand – one that has been around for decades. You would not expect their name to feature here. But, unfortunately, they failed at review management and landed on our list. So, what happened? With a rising social consciousness around sustainability, Nestlé received several negative reviews about their questionable environmental practices, which they chose to ignore.
They expected angry customers would pipe down, and the whole matter will blow right past them. The truth is far from it! Negative reviewers became more aggressive with trolling and posting the inverted logo of the brand. Long story short, this episode created an uproar strong enough for the company to shut its public page.
Moral of the story: Do not turn a blind eye to negative reviews. Acknowledge their opinions and respond to criticism promptly.
Use Case of Dark Horse
Here is another brand failing spectacularly at online review management. This café received a Tweet highlighting their lack of plug points for laptops. A fair request – countless remote workers, sit at coffee houses and work. Now the Dark Horse Café did not shy away from responding with a Tweet that went something like, “We are in the coffee business and not official business, and we have plenty of outlets to do what we need.”
Such a sarcastic response did not bode well with the readers, possibly creating a negative perception of the brand. What’s more, this incident also got them widely distributed lousy publicity when several blogs reported this incident as a case study for negative public relations.
The Top Two Content Types that Hurt Your Brand’s Online Reputation Management
The top two review sources that can hurt your brand are:
Negative Social Media Feedback
Your customers constantly review you on various social media portals like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and many others. Indeed, it is a great virtual location to engage with them. Primarily because everything you do is in the public purview. So, if you receive a negative review on, say, your Facebook page, ensure a speedy resolution.
No brand wants a negative review. Unfortunately, they are inevitable, but if manag
ed correctly – replying and resolving customer grievances publicly – they don’t tarnish your brand’s reputation permanently.
Bad Media Publicity
Nasty or negative media coverage is what Neil Patel defines as an “online reputation bomb.” Bad press, unfortunately, shows up in search engine results. If you have repeatedly received bad media publicity, prospects searching you will likely find defamatory content about your brand.
Add to the issues related to bad press, sometimes, fake reviews and hate sites also do significant damage to your brand’s online reputation. This is why you must keep an eye out for fake trolling and bad media coverage. Identifying honest reviews from dishonest ones can help you set the correct narrative around your brand.
5 Best Practices for Online Reputation Management
From figuring out what ORM is to learning about ORM failures – it’s time to take this discussion forward and know how you can ensure that you get good Google reviews. Here are the best practices to monitor and manage your brand reputation online.
Invest in a Reputation Management Software
If you run an established enterprise with a fully staffed PR department, you might already use reputation management software. But, if you are starting, automating your reputation management is even more critical. For starters, you can cut down on your overhead costs that come with maintaining a full PR department when you use reputation management software.
Further, such software helps you track what your prospects or customers say about your brand. This way, you can weigh in the minute you begin receiving an onslaught of negativity. Jumping in at the right time with a resolution or counter-argument can likely change the dialogue around your product – take it from negative to positive.
Special features of such software also alert you on how many brands mentions you received when you rolled out a particular product, deal, or discount. Pulling out insights from customer reactions can help you deploy hyper-personalized offers in the future.
Update All Your Digital Handles Regularly
Firstly, make sure you have a complete profile on several social and professional media platforms. Why? Because, even as we speak, 58.11% of the world’s population is active on these portals. So, if you are not there, you are losing out to your competitors.
Secondly, create a cohesive and consistent brand presence on all digital media handles – be it social pages, landing pages, or any third-party website you have enlisted your brand on. Use the same logo, colours, content tonality, etc. Remember, any time your prospects look at your digital handles anywhere, they must experience consistency. Lastly, post engaging content that adds genuine value to your customers’ life. Sharing only sales posts will not give you sustained traction.
Encourage Your Happy Customers to Leave Reviews
Do you know that an average prospect wants to read about 10 reviews before trusting a local brand? This is an opportunity for you to provide them with what they want and also shine like a brand. How? By encouraging your happy customers to leave a review or write a testimonial for you. This is a win-win situation for everybody. You get your leads to read honest, positive opinions about your business offerings, and your loyal customers get a freebie.
Craft an email or share a link with them which they can click on to review you. You can also Tweet a question that will incite responses.
Acknowledge and Respond to Negative and Positive Reviews
Make sure to thank customers who leave a positive review. Pin their opinions on top of your timeline or feed if you can for others to see. But, here is what’s more critical! Always respond to negative reviews promptly. Don’t get bogged down even if you experience a deluge of average to bad reviews. Know that negative reviews are common, and you can curb the damage they cause by simply responding with a resolution.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before replying to negative reviews:
Timing is of the essence. Reply to every negative review with a solution as fast as you can, and do it publically. Doing this will show other prospects that not only do you acknowledge your mistakes, but you are also desperate to rectify them.
Stay miles away from using sarcastic or foul language. While this seems like common sense, we know that brands can go awry, as seen in the case of the Dark Horse Café. So, make sure you don’t get defensive or make excuses.
Try as hard as you can to offer a resolution with your very first reply to a negative review. An apology without a solution often feels empty. However, if the mistake is from the customer’s end, gently point it out.
Don’t Switch Channels While Resolving an Issue
Rather than tackling a customer who gave a negative review on email or a call, resolve the issue on the channel they complained on. You mustn’t trouble an angry buyer who already feels betrayed. Moreover, if you are getting a chance to pacify an unhappy buyer on a public platform, treat it as an opportunity.
Therefore, if an unhappy customer reaches out on chat, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, troubleshoot their issue without switching the channel.
A Quick Recap
First impressions are critical, but they are certainly not the last. Bear in mind that you always have the chance to manage what people are saying about you online by preparing an ORM strategy that includes the best practices listed above. Here is a quick recap for them:
- Invest in a Reputation Management Software
- Update All Your Digital Handles Regularly
- Encourage Your Happy Customers to Leave Reviews
- Acknowledge and Respond to Negative and Positive Reviews
- Don’t Switch Channels While Resolving an Issue
And, It’s a Wrap!
Whether you like it or not, whether you have a digital presence or not, your customers are talking about you online. That’s just how things are today! And, not only are they talking about your product or service, but they are also vlogging about it. They are putting up reviews, unboxing videos, and all sorts of stuff about your product.
So, it only makes sense that you tap into the action and be a part of your brand’s online narrative building. After all, that is the first step towards managing your business’s reputation online.