Despite the many disaster stories we hear about people’s businesses crashing or people losing their jobs because of social media posts, many people still have not taken the time to clean up their act.
You might think you have a good reputation and you have done nothing wrong, but it’s not always about the mistakes you’ve made. An angry customer (or scorned interviewee) with a lot of hurtful things to say can destroy your reputation.
With all the exciting changes happening in digital marketing, this is a good year for tech-savvy marketers. However, growing your online presence while struggling with a poor reputation would be company suicide.
Before you end up in a position many companies have found themselves in, here are six things you need to prioritize.
1. Do a Google search for yourself
The question you need to ask, and often, is, “What are people saying about us?” No brand can rise above its perceived attributes and sadly in this case, possession is nine-tenths of the law. Whatever people are saying about you is what others will believe to be true.
To find out what is going on and to plug up any leaks, do a thorough search of your business online. Find out everything meaningful on Google regarding the names of partners/owners, managers, branches, customer service and every other important facet of the company.
You also need to find out what your associates are doing. Just think of every major fashion label that has been linked to a sweatshop!
2. Cross-check your social media posts
Social media has arguably done more harm than good, or that’s what many of its victims think. Even the most decent, thoughtful company could end up in hot water over posts made years ago, before they were considered politically incorrect.
Do you have any old posts that could pass off as culturally insensitive, sexist, derogatory? You will never know unless you do a deep dive. For many companies, the less cumbersome route would be to delete the entire history and start on a new note.
In case you were wondering if data protection guidelines affect your old or deleted social media posts, think again. Old Tweets, pictures, and comments made by you or by someone that tagged you should be scrutinised systematically.
3. Manage your reviews
So many companies ignore review sites, but this is where most of the damage to a good reputation is done. Angry customers use every means possible to vent their frustration. The first point of call is social media – Twitter in particular.
Reviews could come off as rants, neutral feedback, or questions. Sadly, many companies still take too long (more than a couple of hours) to respond, and that could be customer service suicide.
Beyond social media, however, you also have actual review sites with which to contend. Your search should naturally begin with Google. That is the first-place people post comments in the form of reviews, before they move on to industry-specific websites. Make a list of all the important ones and inspect each one methodically.
As much as you can’t delete a negative review, you can find ways to convert the disgruntled client to, if not a raving fan, at least a more satisfied customer. You can start by apologising individually and offering some sort of compensation.
4. Verify your Google listing and other profiles
Do you have a Google My Business (GMB) profile? Of course you do, but you may not be the one controlling it. If you are not aware, Google automatically creates a profile for every brick and mortar store and gives you the chance to claim or verify the listing and gain control of the account.
Unfortunately, this means someone else could claim the account and use it to wreak havoc on your business. It could be something as subtle as the wrong phone number, altered opening times or posts that could damage your reputation forever. Let’s face it – how many people would believe someone hacked your account?
If you find yourself in this terrible situation, a simple phone call to GMB support can fix it. Other profiles to take control of are, first of all, your website and social media pages. Ensure these carry your name with an originality tag.
5. Publish content regularly
Once you are done cleaning up any messes and mishaps, the next step is to go on the offensive. What this means is you need to actively build-up your reputation. Post content regularly on your website and social media pages.
Customers, visitors, and followers should be able to identify your brand, what you stand for and how you communicate. This will protect you against false allegations. Building a loyal following is critical to business success for financial reasons and also to safeguard your reputation.
6. Actively monitor your online presence
Performing a Google search, monitoring social mentions and responding to reviews immediately is not a once-off task. You need systems in place to ensure this is done regularly and that henceforth your company stays on top of it.
You never know when an influential blogger or media personality posts something damning about you intentionally or mistakenly. Get someone in your team to be responsible for your online reputation, and you’ll be glad you did.