Around 94% of households with an Internet connection search for information about a certain product/service before making a purchasing decision. Accurate business information, customer reviews, blog posts and social media activity all impact your business reputation — no other medium has such a high status when it comes to forming consumer opinions.
As a business owner do you know what is circulating about you on the Internet? Are consumers singing you praises, or are they discussing your poor service? Since such judgements can now determine the success or failure of a company, it is crucial for you to take control of the brand’s online reputation, otherwise third-party sources will be dictating how the brand is being perceived by consumers.
Online Reputation Management
The concept of online reputation has only recently become better known through discussions about social networks and the role of search engines like Google. It describes the part of the reputation that is created on the Internet.
On the other hand, Online Reputation Management (ORM) refers to the act of monitoring and proactively influencing the reputation of a person, an organization or a product in the online community. Here are three main aspect you should always take into consideration when crafting an ORM plan for your business.
1. Search Engine Results Are Controllable
Search engines, such as Google, play a decisive role in this — after all, purchasing decisions are increasingly based on the search results and their order. Google is therefore not only a search engine, but a medium with a considerable opinion-forming effect.
Even if there are only a few negative statements about your company: if these of all things have a high search engine relevance, they appear in a search right at the beginning — and accordingly harvest much more attention than all good reviews together. Typically, the first two result pages are decisive!
The principle is very simple: replace negative search results with new, positive ones. So publish targeted articles on the Internet that are designed and equipped to appear at the top of Google’s search results. That way, the negative ones can’t be deleted, but at least in the long term they can be relegated to the bottom of the results list to such an extent that hardly any searching Internet user will notice them.
Another strategy would be to formulate a press release, place it in a large online press portal and link to it from your company’s homepage, XING profile and blog, etc.
Meanwhile, you can also take precautions even if nothing negative has appeared so far — or just then. Positive success messages or criticism can be positioned so firmly in the upper search results with a few tricks and knacks that they can hardly be displaced by possible future negative messages from the search results.
2. The Right Reaction is Crucial
If you find negative reports and comments in blogs or forums, it is best to react to them instead of ignoring them. It is important to be authentic and honest.
Be transparent about your business and respond to criticism objectively. If it is unfounded, reject the accusations and present your position in a friendly but firm manner. You should also react openly to appropriate criticism. Admit mistakes calmly but also explain what has already happened or will happen in the future so that they are not repeated. This way you will gain credibility and, customers will feel that they are being taken seriously and your response will be met with a positive reaction.
However, responding to positive posts and reviews is just as important. When you respond to a customer online, it can have the same impact as sharing a big smile or a warm hug with a customer in person. As communities move online, that same spirit of generosity and appreciation should infuse your interactions across every forum — people notice that extra effort, and it will build only trust and credibility.
3. Keeping the Overview
Knowing the current mood of the online community is therefore just as important as regularly checking the search engine results for your company and products. Especially since there are various ways to positively influence your own online reputation. Only with consistent monitoring can you be kept up-to-date and react accordingly, especially when it comes to damaging content.