As the owner or marketing honcho of your company and brand, you have to be on your toes all the time so that no emergency can ruin your brand image.
But, in the digital landscape, both good and bad information can spread like wildfire, with the latter being more potent in making its repercussion felt strongly. That’s why harnessing your knowledge of reputation management is a must.
In this digital age, you have to understand what can work and what can go wrong for your brand and how to handle the situation. If you leverage your marketing and branding strategies the right way, you can establish the leadership and authority your brand deserves.
To help you manage your reputation and brand the right way, let’s explore some top insights on online reputation management that may come in handy for this purpose.
1. Honesty and Proactivity Are Essential for Managing Your Reputation
As a marketer, entrepreneur and business online, you probably use every means to ensure that your social media accounts, personal blogs and search results are excellent. You also take care of online privacy to avoid the risks of data breaches, financial loss, impersonation, and so on. Being pro-active in this way is essential in today’s #metoo era where people are alert to anything likely to cause offence – and ready to call out racism, sexism and other unacceptable behavior.
As such, the importance of reputation management is difficult to ignore today, given its ability to produce either a positive or negative effect on your business. Many companies that do not recognize this fact suffer a sudden downfall in reputation on the internet that stuns them and can be beyond repair. Hence, being aware of this is necessary.
There is no shortage of reputation disasters that caused serious, long-lasting reputational damage to some of the world’s biggest businesses and brands. Last year, for example, Snapchat users reported issues with the platform’s ‘snapstreaks’ function and Snapchat’s automated response to the system glitch was not appreciated by users who realized the supposedly individual and sincere responses were, in fact, the work of bots. People hated being misled and many lost trust in the brand. This shows that people really appreciate honesty above all else.
Across the pond in the UK, food retailer Pret a Manger suffered a serious reputation disaster following the death of a customer—a British 15-year-old who died after eating one of their sandwiches. This, as you might expect, had a huge reputational and financial impact for the brand.
These and other reputation disasters demonstrate that a PR crisis can happen to anyone and it is essential that you handle the crisis not only carefully, but also swiftly. Monitoring your reputation online and responding quickly to any complaints will always pay off.
2. Search Engines Play a Big Role in Reputation Management
Today, every business, individual, and public organization leads two distinct lives—the virtual and real life. The information that appears about you virtually on the internet can influence real life public opinion about your brand. In this regard, your online reputation always remains at stake as it can tumble overnight if you don’t manage it properly.
According to an Edelman Trust Barometer report, the firm’s annual exploration of global trust, more than half (65%) of internet users have faith in search engine results. Studies also show that Google enjoys about 76.06% of desktop search traffic globally, followed by Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo. In the US, Google controls almost 90.77% of the market.
Going by these findings, what appears in search results about you and your brand matters a lot. It determines how the majority of online users perceive your brand in real life. Nearly half of US adults have actually Googled someone before doing business with them. You can understand, therefore, how much autocomplete responses in Google can impact your brand image.
For example, if Google search engine’s autofill feature is populated with defamatory or harmful news about your company, people can click them out of curiosity and end up trusting what is said about you. Managing this kind of information about your brand that shows up in search is paramount to good reputation management.
You can avoid a negative situation if you know how search engine algorithms work. You can also employ the best SEO practices and replace negative information online with positive ones to improve your overall brand image and perception online.
3. Online Reviews Are Critical to Brand Reputation
According to a 2018 report by marketing company BrightLocal, a whopping 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means reviews can have a either a great positive or negative impact on your business.
Digging deeper to understand why managing online reviews about your brand is critical for reputation management, the vast majority (73%) of customers are positively influenced by positive reviews about a local brand. And about 57% of people choose any product or service only if it has 4-star ratings or more, according to BrightLocal.
Every customer on average pores over seven reviews about a brand before deciding to buy from it. And, these figures and facts are not just true for local brands. These apply to all other online businesses. A Cornell University study suggest that, in the eyes of consumers, the numerical ratings of a business in online reviews are seen as an objective measure of a business’ quality.
“Oftentimes, the online rating of a business is taken as a proxy for its objective quality rating,” researchers Oussama Fadil and Jake Soloff said. “The underlying assumption is that by average ratings across users of varying tastes and preferences, dependencies upon said factors are eliminated.”
Meanwhile, Harvard Business School researcher Michael Luca, in his study “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com," found that a 1-star improvement on a business’ Yelp reviews translated to anywhere from a 5% to 9% swing on revenues. Simply put: reviews and star ratings matter a lot in swaying consumers’ purchase decisions.
Since reviews and ratings are vital to your brand reputation and can be a barometer of trust for customers, explore all the reviews platforms, such as Yelp, and respond to users to try and manage your reputation in reviews. However, don’t post fake reviews because new-age customers can identify them quickly, and when they do it will be worse for your brand reputation. Remember, honesty is very important for your reputation.
Other than that, you can utilize social media, content marketing, Wikipedia, and many other strategies to keep your reputation management efforts strong. If you think you would need expert help for this, you can always reach out to a credible online reputation management company for their services.