Getting Control of Your Reputation
There are many factors that go into your customer’s buying decision. First, you have to have the product or service your customer wants. Your company also has to have a good reputation: customers need to know you are honest, friendly, easy to work with, responsive to a customer’s needs, and will stand behind your product.
The reputation part is very important. These days, a company’s brand reputation is largely determined by its online and social media presence. Whether someone is buying a boat, a book or a banana, they are likely to do some research into the seller by looking at other customer reviews. They’ll look on Google, on Facebook, on Yelp and elsewhere to see what other people think of your brand, your company, and your service.
Reputation Management is a new discipline in digital marketing that seeks to help your brand strengthen its online reputation.
Everybody knows that word of mouth is – by far – the best kind of marketing. A satisfied customer tells his friends and family about his experience with your company, and that strengthens your brand and encourages those people to do business with you in the future.
But what happens if the word of mouth is… not so good? The negative waves of influence are just as strong as the positive ones, and can be harder to overcome. And these days, it’s so easy for a dissatisfied customer (or a harmful troll) to post statements alleging all kinds of horrible things about your brand.
Reputation Management attempts to counter such negative messaging wherever it occurs.
There are basically four ways a company communicates with its customers. The first is through “owned” media: your website, email messages, blogs, videos, white papers, etc. It’s “owned” because you totally control the message.
Next is “earned” media. These are stories about your company that appear in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, or written about your company by bloggers and influencers. You can provide information about your company to these types of media outlets, but what they publish is mostly up to them.
Then there’s “paid” media, which includes advertising, sponsored content, or email blasts. You pay for it, so again you control the message. But the consumer has something of a built-in skepticism about the message, because it’s “an ad.”
Finally, there’s “shared” media. These are comprised of the shared posts by your customers on outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and many others. You don’t have too much control over this group – your customers can say what they want.
Reputation Management attempts to address this last group. There are tools and techniques for responding to social media posts and comments and reviews, but the first step is to institute a regular program of reviewing these comments and identifying problems. You may need to appoint a staff member to regularly review certain websites for comments and reviews, or purchase software or an app to keep a constant watch.
If there are some unfavorable reviews out there, a company can take steps to address them. A corporate response to an unfavorable review needs to be measured and objective. Getting excited and hurling insults back at someone online is just pouring gasoline on a raging fire.
An effective RM plan needs research, planning, monitoring, and a strategy for response. Fuel Media’s digital marketing experts have years of experience developing effective Reputation Management solutions across a wide range of industries.
If you think your company and brand need some help in improving your RM, please give us a call. We can offer both short and long-term solutions!