A Complete Guide to Online Reputation Management (Part 2)

Date Published
November 29, 2022

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A Complete Guide to Online Reputation Management (Part 2)

In a previous piece published earlier this month, we discussed the definition of Reputation Management, its significance, and why every firm requires a Reputation Management plan, strategy, and steering committee. In addition, we discussed its impact on customer acquisition and retention, as well as how we can use Reputation Management to our benefit in good times to collect useful consumer feedback and leverage it for word-of-mouth.

In this second installment of the Online Reputation Management Guide, I will outline eight methods for managing & executing the online reputation of a brand.

How to Manage the Online Reputation of a Brand

You must implement a process for effective online reputation management. Obviously, the process will vary depending on the company's size, industry, and available resources. However, consider the eight guidelines outlined below as the essential building blocks for constructing an effective ORM strategy. It can be expanded or condensed, but the essential steps will remain the same.

1- Conduct An Audit

Before using any ORM strategy, you must undertake a comprehensive online reputation audit. The purpose of an online reputation management audit is to determine how people see you online and what obstacles you face in attempting to change that perception. And to accomplish this, you must conduct brand monitoring.

  • Simply open an incognito window and search Google for your brand name.
  • Examine the websites that show on the very first page in detail.
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  • Determine which Google My Business-related elements appear on the page and assess your presence there: ratings, comments, reviews, user-generated images, etc.
  • Separate the websites into those you have control over and those you do not. With your social media accounts, they are extremely manageable; with third-party listings, you can contact site owners to add/remove inaccurate information. With a negative news article, you might contact out to the author and attempt to discuss his displeasure or persuade him that he has an incorrect impression of your organization or product.

In general, your audit must help you respond to the following questions:

  1. Which top websites inside my search results can I manage?
  2. What types of websites emerge when I search for my brand?
  3. How popular am I online (consider the amount of mentions)?
  4. Do most visitors find my business from search engines or external sites?
  5. Is the overall opinion regarding my company positive (neutral) or negative?

2- Develop A Strategy

ORM Prioritization

Early stages of online reputation management can be a daunting task. Prioritization is therefore of the utmost importance, as you cannot immediately respond to every mention. Once the audit is complete, it should be easier to determine what should be your top priority. Consider the following considerations that should influence your decision:

  • Establish objectives for online reputation management: If response time is a priority, it is prudent to concentrate on platforms to which you have direct access.
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  • Define your limits and boundaries: Review the amount of available resources for the ORM project. Additionally, remember that this is a continual process. Therefore, be realistic in your evaluation.
  • Prioritize your ORM based on its impact: Although you may feel as if you need to handle everything at once, be realistic about the scope of the task. Impact is the most important selection criterion because you must dedicate your efforts to the channels with the highest stakes for your organization.
  • Prioritize To-dos: Which jobs are the most important and must be completed first? There should be a plan in place for managing crucial and difficult duties. Selecting the simpler chores to complete first is not always the wisest course of action.

Policies & Guidelines

To be successful in ORM, you must go through some bureaucracy. When managing online reputation, it is vital to develop company-wide norms and a consistent tone of voice. Again, the extent of these policy documents will vary from company to company, but the overall concept will remain the same.

Documentation relating to Policies Once you initiate an ORM project, you will always be notified of new comments, reviews, and other remarks. Therefore, it is essential to establish a rather tight definition of what is urgent and what can wait, as well as who is in control and how to respond.

Urgent/Non-Urgent answer You must specify which types of reviews are of the biggest importance to your organization. If your clients frequently visit a specific social platform, then any unfavorable information there could be a deal-breaker for your product, pay close attention to mentions from there. You can also rank cases by brand and customer importance.

Urgent: The vast majority of instances that can harm your brand's reputation go far beyond a casual bad comment. Also, do not forget to study the reviewer's profile; if he or she is well-known in certain circles, you can anticipate the review becoming viral. Therefore, whenever you uncover such a review, you must address it immediately.

Non-Urgent: Typically, a non-urgent response is acceptable for issues that may be readily settled with a standard response (I prepare an FAQ excel sheet for clients, a template prepared in advance for typical questions and inquiries).

Define the timeline for responding to such comments, even if you are aware that an immediate answer is not necessary. Ensure that you acknowledge the commenter's concern, even if it may take you some time to reply.

Blacklist: Every business has encountered trolls and pure haters who cannot be persuaded to behave reasonably. Therefore, it is often preferable not to make an official answer, as doing so will escalate the topic and have a greater negative influence on your organization. When reviewing your policy documents, everyone can refer to a "blacklist" that you create.

Response Templates

Always produce a document with frequently asked questions about your brand. Keep all responses in this document so that your coworkers (and you) can use it as a general guideline for responding to evaluations and comments.

Who Is Responsible?

If it is the responsibility of everyone, then it is the responsibility of no one. Define who is responsible for a certain channel and adhere to this guideline. Collaborations are encouraged, but everyone must understand where their responsibilities begin and finish.

Expression of Voice Establishing a certain tone of voice when responding to unfavorable (or even positive) evaluations and remarks is crucial. Depending on the company, this portion of the policy will change, but everyone must adhere to these principles.

Generally, it is advisable to avoid acting like a bully and to avoid escalating any disagreements. Some talks can be shifted to Direct Messages, but even then, attempt to adhere to the tone of voice regulations, as private chats might be shared publicly.

Implement a Crisis Management Strategy You can never predict a catastrophe, but that does not mean you should not be prepared. As a result, a solid crisis management strategy should always be in place given the unparalleled rate of online escalation.

Clearly, this is a vast topic, thus we will not go into great detail. But in general, there are a few things you must do to be prepared for an ORM crisis:

  1. Utilize brand monitoring tools, since they will rapidly notify you of any unexpected spikes in brand-related conversation.
  2. Keep an eye on industry developments, since new legislation or the introduction of cutting-edge technology can place a significant strain on your organization.
  3. Know where your audience is and how to engage with them most effectively. If a significant portion of your audience is more engaged on Twitter, make it your primary communication platform; you will reach a larger audience in less time.
  4. Draft a draft of your response to every unfavorable comment or review as soon as feasible. But ensure that no one copies and pastes it in bulk; during a crisis, your reaction should appear personal and personalized to each comment.
  5. Establish a chain of command in preparation, as everyone should be aware of their roles, especially when your coworkers are confronting a crisis and may lose their composure.

3- Track Brand Mentions

Proactively monitoring online chats gives you a real-time perspective of your online presence and enables you to respond promptly. However, it is not sufficient to simply examine Google's ranking of reviews.

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Using a brand monitoring tool, you can effectively manage and track brand mentions. Here is a list of my ten favorite things:

  1. Meltwater
  2. Talkwalker
  3. Mention
  4. Sendible
  5. Hootsuite
  6. Sprout Social
  7. BuzzSumo
  8. Brandwatch
  9. Ahrefs
  10. Brandwatch

Set up a campaign to monitor the Internet for mentions of your brand, products, and individuals so that you are always aware of what others are saying about you. And you can immediately begin addressing any bad mentions or referrals.

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4- Dominate SERPs

Without SEO, an online reputation management approach cannot be successful. Your primary objective is to rank well for branded keywords. The most effective method is to have a highly ranked website. Also, optimize your official social media platforms, as these sites often rank among the top ten for brand searches.

Here is how you can review the sites that give off a positive feeling in search engine results pages (SERPs) for brand queries.

Magic Word: Keywords

  • If it pertains to Google My Business reviews, call out to your loyal customers and request that they post positive evaluations to counteract the negative ones and boost your rating.
  • If there is bad content ranking for your brand term, you should attempt to contact the author and ask them to remove it. Obviously, you must present valid explanations for why their critique is no longer relevant – perhaps you have addressed their concerns or are currently working on enhancements.
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  • Creating material that would rank higher than the externally bad piece is another method for "beating" it. This guide to developing SEO-friendly content should aid you in your endeavors.

5- Encourage Positive Reviews

Positive and negative online reviews will affect your company's revenue. Dimensional Research found that 90% of buyers are influenced by good online reviews. 86% of users will reconsider selecting your brand if it gets poor ratings. P And people have quite high expectations of your reputation. In fact, 49% of consumers demand a four-star rating from a company before purchasing from them.

Modern consumers mainly rely on online reviews when making purchasing decisions, but there is also an SEO component to this. The online reputation of your brand can affect your rankings. Google has revealed that its algorithms are programmed to penalize websites that deliver a bad user experience, and negative customer reviews are indicative of this tendency.

But as the number of possibilities for consumers to make their opinions public grows tremendously, it is often difficult to know where to search and how to handle bad reviews.

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How to Encourage Your Customers to Write Reviews

The easiest method to address negative feedback is to outweigh it with positive feedback. Consequently, you should also have a plan to encourage clients to post reviews. This can be done both in exchange for anything and in good faith.

  • Encourage your consumers in person, through email newsletters, and at your place of business using the Google Marketing Kit.
  • You can design a little pop-up that appears anytime someone visits your website, requesting a review. Ensure that it is as simple as possible. Provide useful links and always express gratitude at the end of your communication. And avoid sending them to platforms that require excessive effort, such as sign-ups, personal information, etc.
  • Utilize your social media presence and come up with a creative strategy to encourage clients to submit reviews.
  • Additionally, remember the importance of email signatures. Add a statement stating that you would really welcome a customer evaluation of their experience with your brand. As previously indicated, do not neglect to provide them with a clear guidance on where to go.
  • Create an incentive program, excluding Google. This violates their policies.

You might devise a specific incentive program if you feel you need to provide more incentive for customers to provide reviews. Say that for every review, a customer receives X points. They can expect a discount, a charitable donation, free publicity (you can feature them on your social media channels), or an exclusive piece of content after obtaining Y points. Simply use your imagination and experiment with the program's specifics.

And remember to thank each consumer who has left a nice review. After all, they have taken the time to aid your business and leave a positive review, so this is the least you can do in return.

Although a simple thank you is sufficient, it is wonderful to add a personal touch to your polite response. Displaying attention to your consumers will encourage them to return and possibly leave more testimonials.

6- Handle Negative Reviews

Bad reviews have a direct influence on the bottom line of your business since they deter current and potential clients from using your services or purchasing your products.

A survey by ReviewTrackers reveals that 94% of respondents admit that poor online reviews can deter them from selecting a specific firm.

Before addressing your negative reviews, determine which ones are the most harmful. Reviews that score highly in the search engine results page are an excellent beginning point. Examine the following platforms quickly:

  • My Google Business
  • Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Trustpilot, Feefo, Review.io or a comparable service (remember that some of these platforms might collect reviews even if you do not subscribe.)

It is essential to get a regular sample of your online reviews in order to properly address issues.

How To Respond To Unfavorable Evaluations

  • Improve response time
  • Display courtesy
  • Apologize using phrases such as "we understand...", "we want to provide a better experience...", and "how can we provide you with a better service?"
  • Know when to speak openly and when to speak privately: I urge you to answer the majority of unfavorable remarks in public. This can assist mitigate the impact of the negative review and demonstrate that you are approachable and responsive. However, certain reviews necessitate in-depth discussions that may entail sensitive information. Mention publicly that you will need to reveal particular non-public information to continue the dialogue, and propose switching the conversation to private channels.
  • Offer a refund
  • Actually make and demonstrate product enhancements

7- Produce Brand Content

We must also discuss another aspect of online reputation management: branding. We are referring to the general consistency of messaging and tone of voice, in addition to the visual aesthetics, which are significant.

Customers' early impressions of your brand will be heavily influenced by the material they encounter when searching for it online. With a robust ORM strategy in place, you have the ability to project yourself in the manner you like.

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Therefore, how your material appears for branded searches, the responses you provide on review platforms, and your social media engagement all contribute to shaping your image in your clients' eyes.

8- Select Influencers Wisely

When discussing online reputation management, we cannot overlook its most recent facet for many companies: influencer marketing. This may appear to be a terrific alternative to paid media, but you do not have the same control over your reputation as you do with advertisements and sponsored articles.

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Consider the 2017 issue involving Disney's Maker Studios and PewDiePie. Maker Studios utilized one of the most popular internet personas as part of their marketing campaign, but humans are highly unpredictable. PewDiePie sparked a massive scandal, and Disney was compelled to immediately terminate its relationship with the popular and now infamous YouTuber. Even with a prompt response, the company's reputation should have been impacted by this incident.

I do not intend to fully discourage you from incorporating influencer marketing into your online reputation management approach. Simply said, you must use extreme caution when selecting a collaborator. Even those you have the utmost confidence in may not be the ideal choice for associating your brand with.

Conclusion

Online reputation management is merely a reflection of this new "bottom-up" communication model, in which your current and prospective customers have a say regarding your brand. Therefore, ORM is a crucial component of any organization's business, marketing, and growth strategy (even for offline businesses). People are discussing you, and this will continue. Your responsibility is to devise a robust online reputation management strategy in order to navigate through all online dialogues, make minor corrections, and generate favorable emotion.

This handbook should serve as an excellent starting point for your online reputation management initiatives.

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