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Manage your online reputation and show your best face

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Manage your online reputation and show your best face

"He who sows virtue, reaps fame." Leonardo da Vinci was not the only one who understood reputation as a direct consequence of work and perseverance. Today, companies are facing an increasingly wide battlefield and are aware of the multiple possibilities of expansion that the Internet allows, as well as the effort that this implies. This means that today they are more concerned than ever about their online reputation or that of their brand and its management, hence the so-called online reputation management (ORM) is increasingly being talked about as a differentiated field. that ensures that the fame of a product, a person or a company always corresponds to the image they project . To do this, you have to know how to recognize and evaluate the opinions of others in time and, in the best of cases, be able to influence your own reputation in the long term. The Internet offers several options with which to rectify a bad reputation. In order to react before a dreaded shitstorm or reputation crisis is triggered, we will show you below how to manage your online reputation and improve your public image..

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Index
  1. What does online reputation management deal with?
  2. Reputation management: why is it so important?
  3. Where do consumers think?
  4. Online reputation: how can it be managed?
    1. Social Media Optimization
    2. Brand monitoring
    3. Issue Monitoring
    4. Storytelling
    5. Community Management
    6. SEO
  5. Tips and tricks to manage your online reputation
  6. Manage your online reputation: tools
  7. Two examples of good online reputation management
    1. US Census Bureau
    2. Loft

What does online reputation management deal with?

In a strict sense, reputation management is a subcategory of public relations (PR) meanwhile turned into a discipline in its own right. The field of public relations deals with maintaining contact with the press and nourishing it with information and news that show the best face of companies through notes and press conferences. But the Internet has long established itself as a medium that no longer makes it possible to clearly differentiate between the recipient and the creator of the content and users no longer need a good contact in a news agency or elaborate press texts to influence the image of the companies. On social media, anyone can comment on a post and share it in a matter of seconds, and if they find enough echo, recipients can also spread their own conclusions long before most PR departments can react . This would be the job of reputation management on the social web and on the Internet..

Opinions about an organization, a person, a product or an offer can be expanded in the digital world in many different ways. In blogs or vlogs, with comments on social networks or on rating portals and online stores, any user has the possibility to express himself and, although an isolated comment has little power to influence the general reputation, it can trigger a involuntary overturn in the public image. This is why online reputation management monitors as many channels as possible to react quickly to negative changes .

In the context of reputation management, what ultimately counts is image communication, which can fully determine the value of a brand and even positively influence sales. This makes this discipline a crucial piece in the public relations mix and if you are not attentive to the mood swings on the Internet , your reputation can be ruined from one moment to the next..

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Reputation management: why is it so important?

Reputation management helps the image of companies remain positive, because if there is something easily understandable at first glance, it is that a positive image benefits the company, but how? In which areas is public opinion important to companies? From an economic point of view, a good reputation carries the following advantages:

  • It extends the radius of reach of the brand : the good is known by itself and the best advertising is the one that is spread by word of mouth. Thanks to the good reputation, customers become brand ambassadors and attract more consumers to their social profiles.
  • Increase sales : Reach alone is not of much value if it does not generate leads and conversions, and both are more likely with a good reputation, since it helps potential customers have confidence in the brand. And again: if customers value their purchases positively, they can convince other stakeholders.
  • Employment : a good reputation not only helps to reach new markets, but can also be decisive in the global race in search of the best professionals (War on Talents), since all the positive opinions about the company that are disseminated on the Internet also they have an effect on any potential candidate.
  • Brand value : The reputation of a brand is also reflected in its value. Investors are very interested in how the public perceives a company or brand.

Where do consumers think?

On the Internet, any user can become a critic of a product, a service or a brand. The probability of constructing your own opinion and expressing it openly on the Internet is extremely high, since the Internet offers, in short, multiple ways to do so:

  • Social networks : it is understood as a fundamental principle of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr that users can share their opinions and comments there, to the point that the various social platforms are often the triggers of viral movements that can also be directed against companies .
  • Forums : even though the classic forums, as a general rule, do not aspire to be as influential as the most popular social networks, they still have a great weight in the online reputation of companies, since like-minded people and experts meet in specialized forums that can have a great influence on the target audience of companies. Here we can mention the special case of Reddit: this web page, halfway between a forum and a social network, is a meeting point for enthusiastic followers and experts, while influencing the information disseminated by the mass media.
  • Rating portals : Yelp, TripAdvisor or Trivago are platforms dedicated exclusively to the evaluation of companies and their offer. In them, users rate the services used in various ways (points, stars, etc.) and write positive or negative comments. These ratings can appear prominently in Google results, which is why they are so important for online reputation management.
  • Online store pages : when a company also sells its products online, it has to monitor the ratings left by users in large stores such as Amazon, since here comments can also have a bearing on sales.
  • Video portals : on platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion among other alternatives, users also gladly share their opinions and experiences with brands and products. Compared to texts, the audiovisual medium allows a different approach to the object of discussion, since it is immediate, it shows the object live and what has not worked well, such as design or functions. Many of these videos are also staged with a great sense of humor, sometimes even bordering on satire or mockery.
  • Blogs : blogs are the place where you can dedicate yourself intensely to a certain topic, how well can it be? And is it in many cases? own privacy. In other cases, however, the attention of the authors is directed towards brands, products and services, especially when they are disappointed. Consequently, it is a good idea to monitor the blogging scene and intervene if necessary before a single post can trigger an avalanche of criticism.
  • Corporate website : the company's website, like the corporate blog, invites consumers to comment on its products or services. This is in principle a good tactic, but it must always be borne in mind that here, too, it is necessary to intervene quickly in the case of rude and destructive criticism. Those customers who visit your page looking for mere information should not be faced with the most subjective and derogatory opinions.

Online reputation: how can it be managed?

Online reputation management has two faces, one passive and analytical and the other active. The fundamental requirement for good reputation management is to monitor the judgments made by users on as many sites as possible: on which portals and web pages do consumers express their opinions about the company, its brands and its products? If answering this question is relevant, the wishes and interests of the customers themselves also play an important role: it is about identifying what the target audience expects from the company. This demonstrates the intimate connection between ORM and marketing and public relations strategy: in these three areas, knowing your audience is essential .

But while the passive side of reputation management is concerned with observing and analyzing, the active side is dedicated to building reputation. For this, it is useful to resort, for example, to storytelling, since an (emotional) story about the company, disseminated on its various channels, can help to achieve a good reputation or to strengthen the one that was had.

The two faces of reputation management work in constant alternation in such a way that it is not easy to clearly differentiate them.

Social Media Optimization

Before monitoring your online reputation, you should examine the presence of the company on the most important platforms for two reasons: first, because it is only possible to follow and react effectively to comments if the same portals used by the target audience are used. and, second, because this is how the brand name is protected: create accounts with your official name, with a term as simple and unequivocal as possible, before someone else does it (in the same way that it happens with domains). If you use a different name on each platform, you can confuse potential customers, while reducing the brand recognition value.

There is something that should not be forgotten and that applies to any marketing action on social networks, and that is that an account on a social network is only relevant if it remains active. A sloppy profile casts a poor image of the company and represents a perfect target for criticism. On the other hand, those careful profiles that have an active and professional community management increase the probability that clients will talk with and not about the company, since contact with the user is one of the fundamental pillars of reputation management in social networks . Ultimately, though, it's about finding the balance: How many profiles can you really manage with the time and resources you have?

Brand monitoring

Brand Monitoring defines the action of observing what is said about the brand, about the products or about the company, regularly monitoring various relevant sources. A side effect of this measure is that trademark rights violations are also discovered because the moment someone uses a concept or a protected name illegally, it is easy to discover it during network monitoring and legal procedures can be initiated. However, the main objective of monitoring in the context of online reputation management is to find out how the company and its offering are talked about on the web.

When you carry out a marketing strategy, you are very likely to talk about yourself, be it on social networks, in forums, on blogs or on news pages, and that is precisely what you usually aspire to. By following up, it is easy to know what is being said and how about the company. If, within the framework of the optimization of social networks and community management, you are already in contact with the platforms, you can already have an impression of the general opinions of customers. However, by adding network monitoring it is possible to know more quickly when the brand is named. In this sense, activating an alert in Google Alerts can also be of great help, since the Google service immediately notifies the user that a previously defined term, such as the brand name, has been detected on the network.

Issue Monitoring

The so-called Issue Monitoring provides the information necessary to improve reputation. This type of analysis looks at the general mood of customers, regardless of both brand and company opinions and general opinion on social issues such as ecology. For this, the mass media and influential characters or influencers are observed, although a customer survey can also yield relevant data.

The results obtained from the monitoring can be used in two ways: on the one hand, when you know what excites your customers, you can adjust your marketing accordingly and thus build a good reputation , although the monitoring must be continuous, because the opinion and the mood can change completely from one moment to the next. On the other hand, monitoring also serves to strengthen the reputation that it already had. Constant vigilance allows fluctuations in public opinion to be recorded quickly enough to be able to respond appropriately.

Storytelling

Even being a term widely used in marketing, storytelling continues to be a valuable tool to influence image and, with it, reputation in a sustainable way.

Storytelling is nothing more than telling a story, although it is not a question here of inventing a story or a fable, but of nesting the culture, values ​​and future plans of the company in an attractive story . This way of telling also reaches those consumers who are not necessarily interested in data and facts, but rather prefer emotional communication. The data must be framed in an attractive context for the audience, that excites or makes them think, in which the images contribute to increase the emotional effect of the story. Whenever possible, the ideal option is to use a multimedia concept.

In the context of online reputation management, it is indifferent whether a previous story is used or a new one is created, because the important thing is not to launch two stories at the same time that they contradict each other or have very divergent styles. And is that for storytelling to make sense, an unmistakable style must be developed, a proper way of telling a story that will be consolidated in the reputation management actions that are carried out. Likewise, the style and tone of the story must also be adjusted to the way in which the company addresses the target audience, which also includes the greater or lesser freshness of the company when responding to criticism. Are you willing to oppose the client, always in an appropriate way, or would retracting it better fit your image?

If we launch two stories with a different tone at the same time, this principle is contradicted. So first of all it is convenient to dedicate yourself to defining the style and the way of speaking to your clientele in order to reach the audience with exciting stories.

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Community Management

A large part of the work that requires managing online reputation is in charge of the community, since the gestation of good or bad reputation depends to a large extent on it. Consequently, it is understood that if you want to carry out good management you have to take care of the followers. This causes online reputation management to overlap with customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service departments.

Building a reputation in the community is achieved proactively with compelling storytelling, although you must respond in proportion to potential criticism from your followers. Thus, it is advisable to develop a strategy for reacting to complaints that are usually expressed in a semi-public sphere such as social networks. As numerous examples prove, there are two wrong ways of proceeding that some officials have learned bitterly from: ignore or fight back . Both options are but the best way to further fuel the controversy in the community.

When a critical voice is detected on the networks, for example, in a post on the Facebook page, it is best to react as quickly as possible and with due rigor. Many companies (Disney, for example) use the HEARD system when handling criticism:

  • Hear (listen): listen to the customer who complains, because this way you show interest in him and you can transform a bad experience into a positive one.
  • Empathize : show your critics that you can put yourself in their shoes and understand why they are upset, acknowledging their feelings instead of belittling them.
  • Apologize (apologize): apologize, but not according to a preset pattern, but assuming what the critical point is specifically, even if the mistake is not yours. And it is that, ultimately, anger is related to you even if only indirectly.
  • Resolve (resolves): seeks a solution to the conflict with the customer. This task does not necessarily have to occur at the public level. For this you can transfer the communication to a private channel.
  • Diagnose (diagnose): analyze the problem that has been highlighted in this conflict and develop a strategy that prevents its new appearance.

SEO

Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone equally and on the Internet everyone has an opinion. It doesn't matter if it's fair or not: a bad review will always appear.

When this happens, in a first step, the negative comment or assessment is responded to, the company's point of view on the situation is shown and a possible solution is presented or an apology is requested, if the reason for the customer's anger is really a mistake of the company. If the client continues in his line of discomfort, eliminating the criticism without further ado is not the best option in most cases, since the censorship of companies is something that greatly bothers the community, so, if you are Thinking of making a negative opinion disappear, prepare to face a barrage of protests. Something that you can try, however, is to do everything possible to place good content in the best positions of the search engine results pages, so that negative criticism is perceived by as few consumers as possible.

Users should not find these types of comments before they have read positive reviews and ratings about the company. A negative review in one of the best positions in Google results equates to a catastrophe for your online reputation and highlights a disastrous SEO strategy. If a user makes a query about your brand in the search engine, the top positions should be occupied by your corporate page and the company's social profiles. And it is that the positioning in Google also influences the image. The first page of Google results reflects the general opinion for the user, so make Google rank positive opinions much higher than those web pages where a negative evaluation can be found using smart SEO.

Note

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Tips and tricks to manage your online reputation

There is no one right way to build a good reputation on web 2.0. Every company is different and no two situations are the same. However, you can use some basic tactics:

  • Build your online presence : if you already operate your own channels on the web (website, blog, social media), you can use them to work on your reputation and respond to criticism on the networks more quickly.
  • Monitor : actively listen to the conversations of your target audience. It does not matter if they talk about your company or about other topics, because you get very useful information anyway.
  • Respond swiftly : don't expect the complaints to go away on their own, but react as quickly as possible before the discomfort takes on a dynamic of its own.
  • Respect critics : don't let the most critical users get the feeling that their opinion is wrong or irrelevant, as this only fuels (perhaps irrational) anger.
  • Do not get into controversy : do not fall into the trap of starting an argument, since, even if you are right, it is very likely that you will lose. Your goal is to reverse a negative feeling as quickly as possible, and a public confrontation is only going to stoke the fire.
  • Personalize your message : the treatment between people is very different from that given before an impersonal entity. Customize your communication so that the user also makes an effort to put something on their part.
  • Learn from mistakes : If you are always criticized for the same points, good reputation management is no longer helpful. Instead, contact your audience and clarify that some improvements are being planned, naturally if this is the case, or at least explain why certain things cannot be changed.

Manage your online reputation: tools

There are no tools specifically designed to manage your online reputation, since the range of tasks in this area is too wide. However, there are some typical of other areas, such as network marketing, which are very valid for your reputation management strategy:

  • Hootsuite - Classic tool when it comes to coordinating and managing many profiles on different platforms.
  • Sysomos : with the subscription to this platform, a decisive monitoring of social networks is carried out that includes a large number of statistics.
  • Klout : this company measures the influence in figures of the users of social networks and extracts its Klout score from there. This tool is especially useful for identifying the most influential people in the social sphere.
  • SocialMention : this search engine relies on the search for keywords, such as the name of the brand, on social networks and provides the relationship between positive and negative comments.
  • Google Alerts : This Google service notifies you by email each time a certain keyword appears in Google search results.

Two examples of good online reputation management

On the Internet there are abundant cases of PR disasters, that is, cases in which the public relations department has failed. Many of these situations could have been avoided with good online reputation management. In the cases shown below, on the contrary, those responsible have acted correctly, responding quickly and appropriately.

US Census Bureau

In 2010, the US Census Bureau had to face a massive wave of protests that, however, did not cause any long-term damage thanks to a good reaction.

The job of the statistical office is to review the population census and conduct surveys on a regular basis and, to promote it and at the same time predispose the population to collaborate in the surveys, the state launched a thirty-second ad during the well-known American Super Bowl. As is known, the advertising space during the broadcast of this sporting event is among the most expensive in the world. In this case, the expense amounted to 2 and a half million dollars, which generated a great indignation among citizens considering it a waste of public money. Added to this negative perception was a tweet from Senator John McCain that reached 1.7 million followers.

But the US Census Bureau had put in place a good monitoring system that allowed responsible personnel to detect dissenting voices live and to work out an immediate response . Only a day later, a company representative was able to publish a response on the corporate blog: in reality, it was based on the premise that the maneuver could even save a budget, because the office assumed that as a result of the announcement, more citizens would return the survey by themselves, thus saving you from hiring extra staff to collect it. The following day, the director of the office also reinforced this response on his own blog, while the census office activated all his profiles on social networks to spread this message. In this way public opinion could be reversed for its own benefit.

This example makes clear the importance of monitoring and quick reaction. The state organization had already put all the mechanisms in place: digital and traditional media were under constant surveillance, profiles had been created on the most relevant social platforms, and it also had blogs where more exhaustive clarifications could be disseminated. In this way, the census bureau was able to react before the negative voices spilled out.

Loft

Loft, the women's fashion brand, was involved in 2010 in a great controversy that began on its own Facebook page. In order to promote one of its trouser models, the company posted pictures of a model wearing them on its profile. It was not long before a large number of customer complaints began to accumulate in the comments: the pants that were advertised only fit tall and thin women, while the rest did not, a complaint, on the other hand, quite common among women's fashion brands. Instead of ignoring the criticism or settling to placate it, however, the company (behind the Loft brand is the company Ann Inc.) saw the protest as an opportunity to effectively manage its online reputation .

The next day, Loft posted photos of the company's employees wearing the pants in question on her profile. These women naturally had different shapes and the photos were not professional looking or edited. This quick and personal reaction was so well received by the clients that many were benevolent, even though they did not like how the pants fit these "normal" women. In their new comments, the brand's followers indicated as positive that the company had taken their criticism seriously. With its management of its online reputation, Loft managed to correct a potentially negative situation and position itself as a company capable of reacting with humor or intelligence to the complaints of its customers.


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