Dealing with a sudden PR crisis is hard. Taking steps to shore up your business's online reputation before it happens is easy. Unfortunately, many businesses don't — or don't think they can — devote the time and resources to protecting their brand reputation, preparing a process guide for a PR disaster, or keeping an eye on the news so they can guard against approaching threats.
These protective, proactive actions are dropped to the bottom of the priority list when compared to sales goals, revenue deadlines, and new marketing campaigns. However, a good online reputation is worth nearly as much as good old word-of-mouth advertising, with Sotrender finding that, "84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation."
The more you can do to shore up your positive reputation and proactively manage factors like bad impressions, the stronger your company grows. In this article, we'll cover:
Why your online reputation matters
How customers increasingly turn to online sources to determine whether your company is a good fit
A four-step process for optimizing your online reputation
Your business's online reputation matters because a lot of people use the internet as their primary tool for researching products and companies, and that number is only getting bigger. The majority of shoppers across most generations, not just millennials and members of Gen Z, use their phones and computers to:
Look for companies nearby with a '[x business] near me' search
Skim through online reviews to choose between new competitors
Look up menus, product catalogs, and services pages online before reaching out or stopping by
This trend of trusting online sources was already on the rise for years. But the pandemic and the effects that it had on businesses and services have made shoppers turn more and more readily to online information.
In today's markets, 57% of US shoppers trust online reviews and use them to gauge the potential value of a new-to-them business. Even worse, a low average rating or even one bad review can lose you customers, with 94% of shoppers turning away from a business because of noted bad experiences. The stakes are high for online reputation management, especially if you're trying to grow your customer base.
How Can I Improve My Online Reputation?
The value of a good online reputation is clear to see. But changing a bad reputation to a good reputation or a good reputation to a great one takes a bit more work. In fact, it involves sustained, organized efforts to improve customer service, respond to feedback, and constantly monitor new online mentions of your business. Follow these four steps to actively improve your online reputation:
Step 1: Have an Online Review Strategy Ready
Create process documents that will guide your company's responses to both positive and negative attention. These guides create consistency and allow anyone in your team to create prompt, appropriate responses that help you strengthen relationships with your past customers and guide the first impression of prospective visitors.
However, it's important for these process documents to provide guidelines, not templates. Don't copy-paste or regurgitate responses you've used previously. Engage with the material and discuss how you're going to make improvements (for negative reviews) and how you enjoyed their feedback (for positive reviews).
Ask your customers to share their positive experiences. Almost by default, the only unprompted feedback people leave is negative, and that means dozens of positive experiences are left unexpressed. Develop campaigns that prompt customers to leave positive feedback and experiences on social media and local business directories.
Step 2: Listen to Your Customers or Clients
The reason why you don't want to use templates is because you want to prove you listen to and value your customers. Authentic, prompt responses that provide actionable results can help resolve even the most gnarly of negative media. So transparently acknowledge the problem, discuss how you will resolve it, and then (later on) what you did to resolve it. Both the reviewer and prospective customers are watching.
Step 3: Be Consistent
Reputation management and improvement campaigns take time. Your business will need to respond to any type of media for months, if not as a permanent effort, to substantially improve and manage your brand reputation. Being consistent over the long haul builds customer trust and makes it clear you aren't bribing consumers or buying positive media.
Step 4: Utilize Media Monitoring Software
Manually monitoring your business's profile pages isn't enough, as negative mentions can come from countless different online channels. Using media monitoring software can help ensure any type of negative media doesn’t slip through the cracks and linger unaddressed.
Solutions like Turbine Lab's monitoring software can automatically comb through online mentions to alert you about important changes, provide regular reports so you can monitor feedback, and even see what your competitors are up to.
How Media Monitoring Can Improve Your Online Reputation
Media monitoring offers you a faster and more comprehensive ability to monitor your brand reputation and make changes to it over time. Some of the key advantages of media monitoring include:
Competitive intelligence: Monitor other businesses to gain insight into their own brand reputation strategies, see how they resolve mistakes, stay abreast of issues impacting others in your industry, and proactively address these problems in your own business before they can hurt your brand reputation.
Objective sources of information: Through media monitoring, you can gain more insight into your industry, start to use more accurate and timely information in your publications, and build more trust with your audiences.
Demonstrate concern about customer experiences: Media monitoring software lets you know immediately when users discuss a bad experience. Responding as soon as possible doesn't just let you get on top of the situation. It also demonstrates to your audiences that you care about resolving problems.
Start Shoring Up Your Business Reputation Today With Turbine Labs
Managing your brand reputation, gathering new leads, and staying on top of online mentions of your company can overwhelm your team and work schedule. But automatic media monitoring tools can significantly reduce the manual tasks (and total time commitment) of completing these tasks.
This gives you more time and resources to make strategic choices regarding your brand reputation campaigns and helps you preempt fallout from bad press. To see more about how Turbine Labs can help you manage your online reputation, contact us today and schedule a demo.