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Did you ever a parent, or maybe an employer, warn you that once something goes out on the internet… it’s there forever?
In a lot of ways, this actually true, and not just a parental scare tactic. The information that makes it out there about your business, both positive and negative, can have a lasting impact on your brand.
Today, the open nature of the web has made it easier than ever for users to find all sorts of information about you and your business online, for better and for worse. And while this is great when it comes to passing along your brand’s quality content and spotlighting positive reviews, unfortunately, the web is also a great place for anonymous users and strangers to spread false or malicious information, or leave negative reviews that could have lingering ramifications for your business.
That’s where reputation management experts come in! Let’s take a look at just what reputation management means in our digital age, and why our team’s expertise can do wonders for your brand:
What is Reputation Management?
As individuals and brands, a lot of us would love to clear the web of things that don’t reflect the best sides of ourselves. After all, who wouldn’t want to delete all the embarrassing photos of their awkward puberty, or magically prevent anyone from screen-capping that embarrassing typo they made on Twitter?
Unfortunately, just deleting large swaths of the internet is all-but-impossible. But there is a way to guide the conversation in a more positive direction, and take steps to ensure that the information that users find about you highlights you, and your business, in the best light possible.
Taking steps to control what is said and shared about you online is known as reputation management, and it works the same way for brands as it does for individuals. Michael Fertik, online reputation management guru and founder of Reputation.com, put it well in an interview with Forbes:
“If someone says something negative about you or something true but old and obsolete—perhaps it’s that you were fired from your last job—these things can really damage your future. At the same time, your digital reputation also creates significant opportunities. If you aren’t taking advantage of what your reputation could be or hanging your digital shingle the way it deserves to be hung, people aren’t seeing your best foot forward.”
So just how do we help your business take advantage of this opportunity? In a lot of ways, reputation management is about emphasizing the positive, in order to drown out the negative. Let’s dive into what goes into a practical reputation management strategy.
How Does Reputation Management Work?
First, it’s important to realize that reputation management is not about deleting everything negative about you that has ever been posted to the internet.
Not only is this unethical, but it’s legally murky. Above all, perhaps, its the fact that it’s more or less impossible, from a practical standpoint, as we mentioned earlier.
Reputation management is about dominating your own press. Be your own PR agent, unless you have the budget to hire one. -- Jason Finn, Founder of Geek Chicago
Rather than targeting negative information, reputation management is all about maintaining an active and positive online presence, so that when users turn to the internet, the first pieces of information they find are all relevant and complimentary, speaking to the value of your brand’s identity.
This strategy can, and should, take several forms, creating a positive reputation on the channels where internet users are most likely to find you - search engine results pages, review sites, and social media.
1.) Search Engine Optimization
Want to make sure you're controlling the narrative around your brand online? Then you’ll want to make sure your content, and not a competitor’s, is the first thing searchers find.
A focus on search engine optimization rooted in quality content and mobile optimization will help ensure that your content takes the higher ground (and higher search results) than any negative press. Statistics say that searchers are significantly more likely to click a result in the top two or three search results - meaning that if you dominate this page, you can push down negative information until it’s essentially obsolete.
At the same time, targeting other areas for reputation management can help bolster your SEO results. For instance, accruing more positive reviews on listing sites can help your brand stand out prominently on search results that aren’t your own; at the same time, developing a presence on these review and ranking sites can help build valuable backlinks, which will in turn goose up your own SEO efforts.
For more on our thoughts on all of the ways that a solid reputation management strategy can go hand-in-hand with SEO, be sure to check out our article: “How Do 5-Star Reviews Affect Your SEO?”
2.) Social Media
Social media is also an enormous factor in reputation management, requiring not only targeted social marketing, but an emphasis on social PR. In short? Social media is a great place to emphasize the good news and positive results that you and your brand have to offer.
A social PR strategy for reputation management might include:
- Promoting and sharing high value feedback (like reviews and positive testimonials)
- Leveraging reviews, testimonials, or client experiences as user-generated content
- Sharing positive news coverage or press releases on your brand from third party sources
- Directly engaging with clients’ complaints and thoughts on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Remember, most customers who reach out to you via social media expect a response within a matter of minutes!
- Running a promotion, contest, or campaign to drum up positive buzz around your brand - and increase engagements and interaction
- Offering compelling research, behind-the-scenes glimpses, stories from the office, and other content that puts a likable face to your brand
3.) Managing Your Online Reviews
It may be nice to get a good review… But does a positive message really have that much value? Is there a benefit to actually going out and focusing on positive reviews and testimonials, in terms of ROI? The answer to that is an unequivocal yes.
For instance, did you know that raising your brand’s star rating by just one point can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue? Or that nearly 90% of customers read online reviews before making a decision - and trust them just as much as personal recommendation?
So clearly, review matter - now how do you get them? And, more to the point, how can you help ensure that these reviews are actually serving your business’s needs, rather than reflecting you in a poor light?
It's unethical to delete a negative review, but it's just good business to work to prevent them from happening. How? One way is just good old fashioned customer service!
In short, reaching out to your clients or customers after you’ve closed business and reminding them to leave a review is a great way to build up your online reputation. And with Geek’s help, you can set up a workflow that takes care of this crucial process with ease.
Here at Geek, we partner with a national leader in online reputation management to make getting new reviews, avoiding bad reviews, and following up to feedback as easy as possible.
We'll help you set up a process to reach out to customers via text message or email and ensure their satisfaction. From this personalized message, users can choose whether to proceed to a major review site of your choosing - this could be Google, Facebook, or an industry-specific site - and leave a positive review.
At the same time, this message also gives users a chance to connect with you directly. Often, just following up with your clients is an easy and effective way to stop angry reviews from hitting the web in the first place. Once a customer interacts with you and vents their frustrations in a private channel, they’re far less likely to go leave a negative review in a public forum. Who knows? If you follow up properly, you may even turn that would-be negative feedback into a positive testimonial!
Finally, our review management tool is a one-stop shop for seeing and engaging with all of the reviews out there for your brand, positive or negative. From one convenient portal, you can find the latest reviews of your business and follow-up right away, providing that level of personal online service that means so much to consumers today. Similarly, you can use our tool to automatically promote positive reviews as likable, shareable social content, or even create an embeddable review portal, perfect to add to your website or email signature.
Let's Put Reputation Management Into Practice
Want some real world example? Geek has put our reputation management model into action for businesses of all sizes, in a number of different industries. We’d be happy to talk results in person!
Or, for more information on what a reputation management strategy might look like in your field, check out some of the resources below:
- Reputation Management for Restaurants and Bars
- Reputation Management for Nonprofits and Charities
- Reputation Management for Healthcare Professionals
- Reputation Management for Financial Professionals
- Reputation Management for Law Firms
Curious about how to put online reputation management - including SEO, social media, and review management - to work for you? Ready to recommit to a digital marketing campaign with the guidance of trusted experts? We’d love to help! Drop Geek a line to get started today!