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David Ziguras February 24th, 2016

Online Reputation Management has become one of the most critical marketing focuses for businesses in recent years. Whether you like it or not, in this day and age conversations are happening around you, about your brand and you’d well advised to take part in those discussions to help steer them. Below is a guide to an Online Brand Reputation Management Strategy.

Be Part Of The Conversation

Brand conversations happen everywhere these days. Online is a significant platform for such discussions, and whether you like it or not, they will likely include your brand at some point or another. If you are a big business, or have some very positive experiences or conversely negative ones, then you’re much more likely to feature in these discussions. Our advice – join the conversation. Don’t hide. Help frame the discussion, share positive reviews, share updates or changes being made that impact the way in which your product or service is delivered, and outline perhaps the thinking or triggers for the change. This humanises your business, and allows people to feel like they are part of the discussion, and are helping you to become a better business, and crucially that you are listening.

Be proactive in sharing positive news stories, press releases, testimonials, and responding to mentions everywhere. It’s this strategy where you have plenty of positive stories available that will help minimise negative ones from creeping to prominence. And by being vigilant and responding to negative mentions quickly, you contain sentiment and help establish an identity that promotes a sense of inclusion, and transparency where you are seen to want to be a part of the discussion, and help customers, responding to their grievances in a sensible, consistent manner.

Listen, and Be Proactive

Even big business with large online marketing teams don’t have the time nor full skill sets to monitor 100% of discussions about their brand online. This is where automated tools help. Make use of tools to gather up data on mentions of your brand online, collate these into a useable format on a daily/weekly/monthly basis depending on the state of your online reputation, and then formulate a response/handling strategy that is consistent, and aligned with your brands voice.

Be Smart About Engagement

Leaving it down to the individual on the day to reply in their own voice, and words can be a recipe for disaster. Have a thought out, on brand format for the way both positive & negative mentions should be handled. Reply to all of them where possible. Don’t fight negative comments with negative replies. Be humble, address the issue if it is a genuine comment, and suggest ways in which the issue could have been better dealt with, what changes have been made to avoid future repeats, and anything you might want to offer as compensation (if applicable) to the person making the comment. Don’t get into an online war of words.

Be Everywhere

Is your website up to date and optimised for search engines? Do you blog? If yes, do you blog just on your own site, or do you blog offsite also? You should be. Are your social media accounts current? Do they contain all relevant information, and are they being managed on a regular basis with engaging content? Have you claimed all of your accounts on review sites, and feedback forums etc? Consider not just your business name, but also your brand names, some companies have multiple brands, hence having sites dedicated to those, along with their own social media profiles aids in online reputation management.

Encourage Positive Reviews

Seek feedback, offer surveys, and publish feedback. Create offers to boost activity on this front. There’s plenty of ways businesses can ask for feedback and input from customers, to get insight into their experience of your company, and brand. Take those opportunities, and then share them online. If there’s negative feedback, take it constructively and make changes where suitable to avoid it occurring again, and even talk about this online so that you are seen as transparent and honest.

There Are No Miracles When It Comes To Online Reputation Management

In a perfect World, we’d be on front of issues before they arise, however what we tend to find is that companies seek out Online Reputation Management Specialists when they have an issue. They need help to control online sentiment, or resolve a poor digital image. With this in mind, negative reviews have already been out there for quite some time, probably don’t have the proper responses in place, and have been indexed and ranked by search engines, and are usually on page 1. It takes time to tackle these and turn the ship around, but these issues can be fixed. It just needs a proper Online Reputation Management strategy, and clear goals that are achievable.

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