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How to Protect Your Business’s Online Reputation

Name a business that recently lost not just customers, but also stock value through a major customer service/PR snafu. What about a highly paid celebrity TV star who lost a contract over his behavior? Or, less recently, a large international business with an environmental crisis on its hands? Each of these entities will now be lucky if the public can ever disassociate them from their actions—or more accurately, their responses.

The business of reputation management is an important one to consider now whatever the size of your business or personal status. Chances are you will never have to deal with a reputation disaster like those above, but laying the foundation for protecting your reputation will have a significant impact on the future of your business.

Listen

Managing Your Online Reputation across different languages actually help you lay down the foundation for reputation management. Know who’s talking about you and where. Google Alerts as a great way to track what is being said online about your business. Other methods involve monitoring chatter across other social media or local business platforms.

Conduct an initial search for your brand and/or business across these platforms:

  • Google:  obviously the number one search tool, Google is the first place to start research into your online footprint.
  • Twitter: it isn’t necessary to have a hashtag associated with your brand or business to search Twitter for names or keywords associated with them. Twitter is a very valuable search tool, especially when it comes to pinpointing exact references to anything related to your business.
  • Facebook: Facebook has become omnipotent these days and there is no way you can ignore the importance of Facebook in your social media marketing mix. You need to have a dedicated team to help you promote your business in Facebook otherwise you are sure to miss out on this business bandwagon.

Other than the major three, other valuable sites to monitor are LinkedIn, Google+ and rating services like Yelp, eOpinions and the like.

Establish Your Domain

Now you need to establish your business pages on all those platforms you searched for information about your brand and business. Make sure you also own any domains associated with your brand and/or business. This will allow you to consistently establish your brand across the most seen platforms online. Also work with an SEO consultant or optimize your business pages yourself to make consistent use of keywords you would like associated with your brand and business.

Add platforms like YouTube and Flickr, which rank extremely well, and consider a blog. Through a blog with consistently updated content you can affect your search engine rankings and establish an official channel of communication. Also make sure your website and social pages are credible and transparent. Let users and consumers know who is behind the company not just what you offer. Seek reviews online at different review sites from clients, customers and friends. Positive reviews can balance out other more negative reviews.

Respond

A major part of both Netflix and BP’s PR and customer problems were caused by not addressing the negative situation head on. Keep the communication channels open, but consider your response to online attacks carefully. Allow negative comments to remain on your blog or social platform sites and listen to what the commenter has to say. But also be prepared to respond to highly visible attacks on your brand and/or business with a plan in place.

This plan could include designating a person to represent your company who becomes known across your social channels and responds to any commentary, negative or positive. It could include having a written script of responses prepared to draw the attention of listeners to more positive angles of the situation/company/product/ employee. It could even be simply thanking the negative commenter and asking them if they would like to email you more information about their issue.

Reputation management is essential for the success of your brand and business. Once you have laid a foundation in place like that suggested above, you will be able to easily keep track of your impact. Having a plan set to deal with negative attacks will also allow you the peace of mind to calmly address issues that have derailed much larger entities. Protecting the current and future reputation of your brand and business is an important step towards cultivating the success you want.

Participant

Written by Mildred H. Hagberg

Mildred H. Hagberg is a veteran paddler. He has been paddling since his school days and have won many awards for his outstanding paddling skills. He is a regular contributor at Kayak Manual – a popular kayaking blog.

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