The Internet provides a powerful way for people to share their thoughts about your company. It also gives you a place to promote your business. However, be aware of the following factors that can influence your online reputation, and take the necessary steps to build a positive image.
The Internet gives people a platform to share their experiences publicly. People’s opinions of your customer service, for example, can easily be broadcast on review sites like Yelp and Google+ to give others an idea of what can be expected when doing business with you. Monitoring these sites to determine areas where you can improve is essential to building a positive online image. In addition, it’s important to devise a communication strategy to respond to both positive and negative reviews. With positive reviews, a response showing appreciation for the customer and their business can strengthen public opinion of your brand.
The impact of a negative review can also be mitigated when you use a proactive approach. Do not erase the review if that is an option; instead, reach out to the customer on the online platform where the feedback was given. Say that you would like to evaluate the problem to come up with a solution. Give the customer an option to email or contact you offline to rectify the issue. Simply by responding, you achieve two things. First, you show the upset customer that you value their business. Secondly, your public response demonstrates to other potential customers that you care about their satisfaction and that you want to make things right.
Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites to engage with customers. Having accounts on each platform is a good start, but consistent utilization of these sites is the key to growing your brand. Use the sites to humanize your company by posting original photos, content, and comments that encourage interaction. When a person responds to your post, make sure to give timely feedback, so you leave each of your followers with a sense of personal attention. At times, you might see consumers sharing an unsolicited idea or recommendation for a product. Acknowledge these comments as well, so each person knows they have been heard. Your attentiveness will improve the public perception of your company’s brand.
A few other social media etiquette rules are important to remember as well. Avoid posting content that is personal in nature, and make certain your employees exercise good judgment when posting to your company’s account. Likewise, you should develop guidelines to ensure your employees are representing your company in a positive way, both online and off. For example, you may want to prohibit employees from wearing company gear or uniforms when they’re off duty and socializing, or from tagging your brand in photos. Your goal is to eliminate the risk of having your company’s named tied to questionable online content. If you need guidance on drafting a social media policy, visit Social Media Governance, an online database of many organizations’ social media policies.
Your business’ website is a great place to build and maintain your reputation. It contains information about all the positive things your company is doing, like launching innovative products, performing charitable work in the community, earning awards, and hiring new leaders. You can also use your website to address concerns the public may have about your company or industry. The main benefit of your website when it comes to building your online reputation is that it’s yours — you have total control over how you position your company and what kind of story you tell your customers.
If you don’t have a blog, create one on your website. Besides your social media accounts, your blog is the best place to publish original content on a daily basis. It is an extension of your website that provides timely, interesting information and offers a place for readers to record their comments and questions. For example, if you’re selling an item that needs more explanation than what is on the product page, create a blog post that highlights facts about the merchandise and shows it in action through video. Support the video with copy in the body of your post. Customers will appreciate your effort to give further insight on a product they are interested in purchasing.
If your brand has been damaged, your website and blog is the ideal platform for communicating what you’re doing to fix the problem. When you determine the cause of a problem, make a plan to change operations, put it in action, and announce it to the public. Blog about how past actions are not an accurate representation of your company and share the positive changes you have made. Make sure your blog post gets maximum exposure by sharing it on social media, too. Be bold and ask readers for their opinions, and solicit feedback on what customers would like to see to meet their expectations. In doing so, you can mitigate some of the damage from past mistakes and negative press.