Reputation management, once known as Public Relations (PR), is not a simple concept anymore. Everyone appears to have their own definition, but no matter how you look at it, you have to agree that it’s changed a lot in the last 15 years or so.
Even though reputation management still clearly focuses on creating and managing your brand’s reputation including how it is recognized by the public, the methods of doing this have changed drastically. Not long ago, reputation management depended heavily on traditional media including magazines, TV, radio, and the newspaper. Now, due to the “digital transformation,” businesses must consider websites, social media, and online reviews among others.
Let’s look at tried and true methods of managing your online reputation, and the importance of communication in the workplace in regards to it. We’ll also examine how your website can reflect your brand identity, and things you specifically need to do to manage your reputation going forward in this modern age.
The basics of effective online reputation management
In the modern-day, digital environment, a business’s products and reputation are available to anyone at any time, which has both pros & cons.
It has created new ways for businesses to communicate, but it has also opened up new ways to be criticized and receive negative feedback. There are a few useful, proven concepts for maintaining your reputation that are still true in the never-stopping, quick communications of our internet-based age:
- Always be accessible. Being open and transparent is essential, even when the news isn’t positive. If a business is silent, it opens them up to negative speculation and rumors, and if they appear indifferent or remote, customers feel as though they may not be responsible in future dealings.
- Project a consistent image. The public is getting its information from many different sources. It’s crucial that they receive the same message everywhere instead of confusing, complicated mixed messages.
- Display positive actions. Words and written policies are not enough; it’s what you do that counts. It’s only a matter of time before the inner actions of a business become public. Make those actions something to be proud of.
In addition to all of these basics, you should also strive to maintain effective communication in the workplace. Here’s why:
Effective workplace communication for better Internet reputation management
Effective communication between your business, its employees, your customers, and the outside world is key when managing your online reputation. It’s easy for a lack of communication or a misunderstanding to turn into a disastrous, reputation nightmare.
You can encourage active, positive communication within your business in the following ways:
- Invite employee feedback. One good way of doing this is through employee surveys. Thank your employees for completing surveys, let them know their opinions are important, and that changes will be initiated based on their feedback.
- Be transparent about what’s going on in the business, whether it’s positive or negative. Active problem solving occurs when you’re open, and it will also reduce the stress and confusion of your employees.
- Prevent mean-spirited employee gossip. Not only will gossip make your employees feel uneasy and unprotected, but it can also become toxic and ruin your company.
These suggestions will not only support your employees and offer them a better working environment, but they can also increase customer satisfaction, which goes a long way to sustaining and improving your reputation.
What else you can do to manage your business online reputation?
Audit your website
It is also important to consider your website in regards to Internet reputation management. Over 70% of consumers begin their search for a business, product, or service with Google. Therefore, it is crucial that your website shows your business as reliable and trustworthy, and that it is consistent in showing your brand’s identity. You don’t want to relay a confusing message to potential customers. There are ways to ensure that your website’s content properly reflects that identity:
- Make sure your tone of voice is consistent throughout the pages of your website. Create a style guide to make sure your copy always has a consistent voice. Your writing needs to be perceived accurately by your customers, every time.
- Ensure that the formatting of both text and images is constant throughout your website. Be careful when placing pop-up ads or ad banners, as they can change your visual design, and avoid stock images that will easily be recognized by your visitors.
- Use keywords on your website to not only help your Search Engine Optimization but also in a way that is meaningful to your potential customers.
Start a business blog or a newsroom. It’s a good way to provide important content to your customers, and it will also help you acquire more traffic on your website.
By doing these things, you will project authenticity and consistency in your brand that will help build the belief and trust of your customers, which are absolute requirements of reputation management.
Pay attention to customer reviews
Statistics that show the importance of managing your online reputation are many and varied. Almost 90% of consumers trust reviews they procure online as much as personal recommendations.
- Encourage consumer reviews & comments, and reply to all of them. Comments create more credibility and replying to comments, particularly negative comments, shows that your business cares.
- Get your business listed in review sites, online directories, comparison pages, and toolboxes. Doing so will boost your chances of being noticed, increase the traffic on your website, and enhance your reputation.
Leverage social media
More than half of consumers use social media to research products, and more than three-quarters are influenced by social media posts when making purchasing decisions. It’s clear to see that maintaining your online reputation is very important.
Tips for maintaining a positive Internet reputation across social networks include the following:
- Choose the right social media platforms for your business, start a business page, and keep it active.
- Focus on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to integrate yourself better in your community, to get the word out about your business and products, and to connect with professionals within your field.
- Monitor social networks. There are plenty of social media monitoring tools that can easily act as the online reputation management software and help you keep an eye on brand mentions at all times.
And don’t forget to always work on improving. The world is always changing, and so must your online reputation management techniques.
Start managing your business online reputation properly
Public relations is not what it once was. No longer can you depend on traditional media to get the word out. Now, there are many nuances to reputation management, and almost all of these are online. They include your website, online reviews, and social media just to name a few. With the right techniques and tools, however, you can increase your good reputation, thwart bad things when they come your way, show your customers that you care, and offer them the best possible product.
Now when you know how online reputation works, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice. Once you’re at it, why not give PR software like Prowly a try?
Cover photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash