Let me start by saying that I love online reputation management (ORM). I enjoy the challenges it presents, the many approaches you can take and ultimately, the outcomes. In my current position with Mainstreethost, I have been lucky enough work on ORM projects both for my agency and for clients. While there are certainly similarities in the approaches that can be taken, differences far outweigh similarities which I feel has made me well rounded when it comes to ORM. In this post, I am going to share with you some of my experiences along with some tips for managing and monitoring your online reputation.
Don’t Wait for Negativity to Come to You
The last thing you want to do when it comes to reputation management is chase negativity. In today’s age, you can almost bet money that your customers will share negative experiences with their peers, social circles (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), complaint websites, their own websites and anywhere else that will accept their criticism. Whether or not these reviews and complaints are accurate, the bottom line is people WILL read and WILL make buying decisions based on their peers’ experiences and/or reviews. This leads us to my next point:
Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews
Whether true or not, if a customer writes a negative review about your business, product or services, don’t ignore it in hopes that it will someday fizzle away. Many of the complaint websites out there (Ripoff Report, Complaints Board, etc.) have authority and staying power, there is no getting around this. Instead of dumping loads of your time and resources into moving these listings further down on the SERPs, first start with addressing the negative reviews. Here’s a bonus 4th ”don’t” — DON’T ADD FUEL TO THE FIRE. After learning of and reading a negative review, take a few minutes to digest everything instead of diving right in with your reply. Taking a defensive, non-educated approach with your responses will only add fuel to the fire. When responding, first and foremost, always express concern and thank the individual(s) for their feedback. Tell your side of the story knowing that other potential customers are going to be reading it and judging you on your response.
If you haven’t seen the below video, it is of a FedEx employee throwing a computer monitor over the recipient’s fence back in December of 2011:
Here is FedEx’s response:
A simple “we were wrong” or “I am sorry” goes a long way especially when you are clearly in the wrong. If FedEx were to have ignored the issue, we would still be hearing and talking about this today.
Don’t Be Afraid of Social Media, Embrace It
At a social media conference I attended in Buffalo, NY, one of the speakers stated that “social media fire can only be put out by social media water” and I couldn’t agree more. If you find that your customers are sharing their experiences via social networks more so than anywhere else, you MUST develop an ORM strategy with social media as the centerpiece. In my experiences dealing with ORM, clients tend to shy away from establishing social media presences because they feel they are keeping the “doors closed” and negativity out. The “what I don’t know won’t hurt me” approach will eventually catch up to you and leave you in much worse shape. Ask yourself this question – would I rather have my customers writing reviews on a 3rd party site that I have no control over or on my own social media presences that I do have some control over? NOTE: I am not recommending you delete negative comments with my last statement. It’s just nice to know that you have a level of control over what your potential customers are reading about your business. Your customers are going to share their thoughts regardless so the more means of communication you can open up the better.
Nowadays, consumers are turning to other consumers for recommendations and reviews and are ultimately making decisions based off of the information they are given. This makes monitoring and managing your online reputation a must. There are many different approaches you can take when it comes time to “getting your hands dirty” and much of this is based on your own business, not what others are doing. Know what’s out there and respond accordingly.