Large companies spend big when it comes to reputation management strategies. Think about some of the most well-known brands and you can guarantee that a lot of thought goes into how established and would-be customers view these brands and the wider company reputation. So, is reputation and management a concern for smaller businesses? Absolutely!
The power of reputation management is in your hands
Think about your own consumer behavior. Let's take an example, such as booking a stay in a hotel. You likely look at reviews, the company website, and social media platforms, with your ideas swayed by search results and listings too. The good news is that while reputation management is essential for all sizes of business, there are effective ways you can build and protect your brand and reputation without needing a big business budget.
What is reputation management?
Reputation management is about controlling how your business and your products and/or services are perceived, and then maintaining a positive reputation for your company as a whole and for your brand. It is about protecting and maintaining reputation.
At Pronto, we view reputation management as proactive monitoring of the online reputation of your business and brand; this means reacting and taking action to counter any potential negativity and to build up a positive reaction.
In other words, reputation management can be broken down into three sections:
- Building your company and brand reputation - Whether you are a new company, are launching a new product/service, or have branched out to a new industry or customer base, your primary focus is on building up a good name for your business and your brand.
- Maintaining your company and brand reputation - Once you have built up a solid reputation you cannot simply sit back and expect this to continue without taking steps to maintain it. Reputation management is crucial even if you already have a great reputation; it is an ongoing process.
- Recovering your company and brand reputation - It only takes one bad review or comment to knock your company reputation and it is through positive, strategic marketing, and promotion that you will recover.
How can I build, maintain and protect my online reputation?
Having an online presence is important for most businesses and can be a great way to manage your corporate reputation too. Here are 10 ways you can build, maintain and protect your online reputation:
- Focus and be aware - Listen to your customers and identify your target market. Use the Web to keep abreast of industry developments, competition, and news which could help steer how you act online.
- Monitor your reputation - Search for your business online regularly and monitor how you fare in search results and what any feedback is. Understand what you can control and either adopt the services of a reputation management company or go it alone with apps such as Google Alerts, Social Mention or our Review Monitoring service.
- Be authentic and honest - Nobody wants to read corporate 'blah blah', so make sure that the tone you use on social media platforms is human and fits your target market. You want to come across as trustworthy and this means being transparent and open; reacting in the right way to negative posts and comments rather than trying to cover your back with marketing-spiel which could end up encouraging trolls.
- Create quality content - Write content your customers want to read, not just self-promotional copy, which is a turn-off. Think about reciprocation and engage your customers rather than constantly adopting a direct sales approach.
- React and engage - To establish and maintain a good reputation, you need to be interactive too. This means being accessible and responding quickly to build good relationships. Delays in responding to Tweets, posts, comments and questions can have a negative impact on your reputation.
- Be social - Social media platforms, used in the right way, can be an effective way to shape your company and brand reputation. Don't aim for instant results but take time to build up a genuine profile and create content that resonates with your target market. Be strategic whilst focusing on the value of real connections.
- Start a blog - A blog is a great vehicle for getting information out about your company or even drawing in customers with useful tips and observations. You can establish yourself as an industry expert too which gives your business greater credibility. It's also important to update your blog regularly to add to your professional image.
- Get in directory listings - Before the Internet, businesses would not have dreamed of not being listed in paper directories, and today it's essential that you utilize online directories. Being easier to find in searches will drive traffic to your site where you can adopt reputation management tools to keep your visitors interested and active on your pages.
- Seek publicity - Reputation management is proactive and not just reactive. While you might use social media to entice customers without going in for the direct sell, there's nothing wrong in self-promotion either. A good way to seek publicity online is to write articles for other blogs, look at the benefits of Web advertising, and establish yourself as an expert to spread your good company name.
- Encourage reviews - Feedback is valuable. It shows you who is interacting with you and gives you essential insight into your reputation. Reviews should be welcomed with open-arms, as nearly 90% of review readers believe what they read online according to a recent study. Don't be tempted to pay for good reviews either, as this breaks the terms of service of many directories and can result in long term harm to your visibility on their site! You can also turn a negative response into a positive by reacting in a professional way and not by being defensive.
Pronto can support you in establishing, maintaining, and protecting your corporate and brand reputation by creating a solid foundation for your online presence and through tools like our Review Monitoring service.
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