How to avoid an online reputation crisis for your business
Reputation is and always has been about word-of-mouth endorsements. But in the digital age it’s not only exchanges between customers on the street that you need to manage. Your online reputation is just as important, especially as consumers now go to the internet to read reviews of products and services before they commit their cold, hard cash. So how can you avoid an online reputation crisis?
What is an online reputation crisis?
First, let’s talk about what that might look like. An online reputation crisis might not happen overnight. It could result from a slow build-up of negative online sentiment towards your brand. This might include unfavourable media coverage, spoof social media accounts and negative online reviews.
Whether or not it is justified or what the majority of your customers experience, a negative view of your company is there for everyone to see online. Unless you do something to address it, the crisis will only worsen.
The biggest player in presenting your online reputation is Google. When people type words into this search engine it shows them results based on what it believes to be the most authoritative sources about that topic – the most clicked and read webpages. In this scenario, it may be your brand name or products that people type into their browser. If the search engine results on the first page include negative reviews and comments about your business then this amounts to an online reputation crisis.
How to resolve an online reputation crisis
If you conduct an audit of your online reputation and find there to be a large gap between on and offline perceptions, then there are steps you can take to resolve this crisis. The ultimate goal is to reorder the information that Google presents to customers and move more positive company news and reviews to the top of the search engine results.
If people are leaving negative comments about your business on Google Reviews, TripAdvisor or other online review platforms then respond to them. Ask for more information and take the discussion offline to be resolved. This can defuse the situation and the reviewer may choose to amend their online comments.
2. Ask for online comments
Mobilise your customers as champions for your brand. Ask them to leave comments online if they have had a good experience and to contact you if they have not. Remind them about where they can leave reviews in your newsletters, email shots and in store.
3. Online media coverage
Work with online media to gain editorial and reviews of your business.
4. Run competitions
Competitions and giveaways will encourage more visits to your website and social media profiles, giving them more credibility in Google’s eyes. It will also boost goodwill among customers.
5. Make your social media customer focused
Find out which social media your customers use most and use this an extension of your customer service mechanisms. If you are a B2C business then Facebook is likely to be a good social media platform for you to use to connect with your customers. Keep this up-to-date and use it to answer frequently asked questions. This will make it a more authoritative resource and Google will rank it higher. Plus, you could reduce the number of emails and telephone calls to your team.
If you have any questions about online reputation management or are concerned that your company has an online reputation crisis then we can help. Amplify is a Southampton-based PR agency offering consultancy to businesses in range of sectors.