It has often been said that once something is on the internet it is there forever. It could start simply with an unhappy customer on a forum, a competitor starting a whisper campaign, or a blogger with a huge following. One negative comment that shows up in that first ten queries of a Google search can unravel years of good works. But because these postings do leave a digital trail, a company does have the opportunity to have this negative content removed, particularly if it is libellous or slanderous. By monitoring brand activity a company can be aware of what is being said about it through online reputation management. This takes it out of the realm of merely being a tool for crisis management.
Online reputation management shouldn’t be seen only as a way to combat negative information about a company but also as a way to show appreciation to your customers for positive reviews. By having your social media expert monitor online chatter you can demonstrate you care about your customers. It can be an opportunity to respond positively to whatever feedback may be out there. It can also enable you to build relationships and influence conversations within your industry. By knowing what is being said about your brand, products, employees, or company you can also monitor competitor attacks, trademark/copyright infringement, and counterfeit products. By already having an online reputation management plan in place your social media director will know how to respond in a manner that is in keeping with your company’s culture and ethics.
Having an online reputation management plan should be seen as a supplement to the business plan. It also should be incorporated into budgetary management because it is yet another aspect in the cost of doing business. It is something that can be handled in house by someone who is educated in the use of social media. It can also be outsourced to a professional firm. When selecting a firm familiarity with your industry or brand should be taken into consideration.
Because the internet knows no bounds, someone’s negative experience with your company can have costly consequence. Word can spread online in a matter of hours. Not only can it effect your bottom line, it can erode your customer base and client pool. By taking an active role in monitoring your company’s reputation you will be less likely to have to do damage control in the long run.
Suggested online reputation management reading:
- Pay Attention: How to Listen, Respond, and Profit from Customer Feedback, by Ann Thomas, Price: £14.44
- Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy, by Vanessa Fox, Price: £10.28
- Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Online Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier, by Michael Fertik, Price: £17.03
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