In our internet-based world, online reputation management has become less of a “nice-to-have”, and more of an absolute necessity.
So how do you keep one person’s extreme opinion from harming your entire business? What should you do if negative news begins to circulate about your business?
In this fantastic article I have summarised, US public relations guru, Wendy Marx, provides 12 powerful tips and tricks that will help you manage your reputation online:
1. Monitor your online reputation
In order to manage criticism before it reaches damaging proportions, you need to keep track of it. You can do this cheaply and simply with Google Alerts — set up an alert for your company name and personal name, then monitor it regularly to see what comes up.
Beyond negative remarks, monitoring your online reputation will generally also help you be more available to your audience.
3. Don’t hide criticism
Be transparent, says Wendy Marx. This means owning up to criticism as well as praise. If you try to hide or delete critical remarks, people will wonder why. They may even suspect there is some truth to it.
Transparency is the hallmark of a trusted and reputable company. Negative remarks are considered a part of life, and don’t necessarily harm your reputation. How you respond is often more important than the remark itself.
4. React quickly to bad publicity
When criticism or bad publicity first spreads, journalists will look for any response from you on the issue. If they don’t find any, people will assume a lack of response is tantamount to guilt.
So spare yourself by responding the instant a negative comment or review comes to your attention. Even a ‘We are looking into the situation’ can keep a negative comment from exploding out of proportion, says Wendy.
5. Be polite
Remember, any comments you make on social media or online review boards will be read by others. And people will draw conclusions based on the way you respond.
No matter how rude or unwarranted the negative comments are, your business will be held to a higher standard. A polite response may be hard to think of, but in the end it will be a boon to your online reputation.
6. Beef up SEO
SEO is a great weapon to combat bad publicity, says Wendy. When used correctly, SEO can garner you first page status on Google. Make sure your business appears there to put an end to any lingering doubts in the minds of potential customers.
But what if the bad publicity appears on Google’s first page? If you can’t resolve the negative comment, then seek to push it off the first page with more positive results. For instance, says Wendy, you might…
- Register your business with directories with high page ranks
- Send out media releases on a regular basis
- Guest blog
- Comment regularly on other blogs
- Create profiles for your company on social and other networks
7. Act instantly to illegitimate attackers
When someone takes illegal steps to damage your reputation, don’t be afraid to take action. When you or your company are slandered, you have the right to sue the person responsible. Reserve this option for extreme cases where the accusations are extremely damaging and completely false. If it’s simply a negative comment or review, use some of the other methods listed here.
Quick action on your part will put out the fire, and show others that there wasn’t any truth in it, says Wendy.
8. Own up to mistakes and learn from them
Don’t hide from mistakes you have made. Own up to them. When you get criticism from legitimate sources, take it and learn from it.
When you handle it this way, you are more likely to earn more respect.
9. Showcase the positive
A great way to combat negative comments is to place positive comments front and centre. Case studies and customer testimonials are a key way to do this, says Wendy.
Ask your current customers if they would be willing to share some of their experiences of working with your company. Ask them what problems led them to seek out your product or service, and how your company has resolved those challenges. These personal details, especially when shared in your customer’s own voice, can beef up your online reputation and diminish the impact of any negative comments.
10. Share your personal side
Potential customers don’t want to think about companies as cold and distant — they want to know the people behind the company. This doesn’t mean you have to flood the internet with personal details about yourself. But you do want to share some minor personal details, says Wendy.
Let your audience see your personality, whether it’s in your content or social media networks. Do you have a particular sense of humour or personality quirk that sets you apart? Share that. Are you passionate about a particular cause or hobby? Let your audience know.
These small details make people feel like they know you — and will make them less likely to listen to negative comments.
11. Create high quality content
Your content can be a tremendous boon to your online reputation, helping you become an industry thought leader or expert. The more you can position yourself as an authority within your industry, the less likely any negative comments will be taken seriously, says Wendy.
Start by answering the most common questions that people ask your company. If they can readily find the answers to their questions, it will cut down on criticism. Create a wide range of content — some short posts that answer simple questions, and other, long-form content such as white papers and eBooks that go more in-depth on industry issues.
12. Guest post or be interviewed by respectable people
You can use somebody’s positive reputation to boost yours even further. It’s human nature to group people into categories. You can use this to your advantage by associating your name with a well-respected name in your industry.
Offer to guest post on someone’s blog, or be the subject of an interview with a popular podcast.
Are you looking to lift your profile, build and manage your reputation or become the thought leader and go-to person for your ideas, opinions and knowledge: