In our modern world of constant cyber-conversation, it is utterly essential that you manage your online reputation. Negative comments about your company, your products, or your employees can spread from laptop to tablet to smartphone almost as fast the latest celebrity sex video.
Why should you worry about reputation management? Snark from ticked-off customers can affect you not only in the short term, with lost sales or slowed client traffic, but in the long term as well. Once your company or brand is perceived as second-rate, you’ll have a harder time hiring topnotch employees, and a much harder time obtaining financing.
How to monitor: Start by finding out what your company reputation is. There are a variety of tools and apps you can use to monitor online mentions. Some are free; some are free for a bare-bones account but upgradable; others are strictly paid. Check out:
In addition, Klout doesn’t measure reputation directly, but can help you gauge how far your social media reach extends.
What to monitor: Your company name is just the beginning. Also track:
- Brand names
- Product names
- The names of executives and other key employees
- Taglines, mottos, nicknames (“Coke” vs. “Coca-Cola”)
- Industry keywords
Tip: In addition to doing online reputation monitoring for your own company, track these terms for your main competitor to get a sense of how you stack up.
Tip: Although it’s nice to read praise, it’s absolutely crucial to read criticism, so run searches with a variety of negative terms attached to your brand and company names: “sucks,” “blows,” “rip off,” “fraud,” “scam,” and the like.
How to respond:
- Analyze the data you’ve gathered to find out who’s saying what. Are you dealing with furious customers, irritated website visitors, or disgruntled ex-employees? Prioritize your responses in order of urgency and potential damage to your brand. Remember, too, the magic of “thank you” — don’t forget to respond to praise and compliments as well!
- Develop a plan for responding, not just to individual comments but to categories of comments. Is this a job for customer service, tech support, or administration — or all three? What is an acceptable time frame for responding? What channels should you use — social media, your blog, email?
- Stay professional. Your response should be courteous and appropriate; if you lose your temper and attack back, you’ll do more harm than good. If you’re not sure you’ve hit the right tone, run your response by a coworker with good social skills before sending it.
- Pay attention to what is being said. Unsolicited consumer feedback can be incredibly valuable. Track comments and look for trends. Is there an issue with a particular product? Are your employees being called out for rudeness? Address the underlying issues promptly.
These steps can help you respond to what people are saying. The other way to make sure you have a good reputation, of course, is to accentuate the positive: Make sure that you’ve got a constant flow of quality material being posted as part of your overall content marketing plan.