What you need to know:
Reputation management is the practice of understanding or influencing an individual or business’ reputation. It was originally coined as a public relations term, but advancement in computing, the internet and social media made it primarily an issue of search results. Although it is often associated with ethical grey areas, such as astroturfing review sites, trying to censor negative complaints or using gamey SEO tactics to influence results, there are also ethical forms of reputation management, such as responding to customer complaints, asking sites to take down incorrect information and using online feedback to influence product development. – Wikipedia, Reputation Management
Does it matter if you have the greatest service or product in the entire world? No! Your product may perhaps be an overall winner, it may well, perhaps change people’s lives, avert wars, formulate the world a better place to live in or even help protect the environment. But, people would always have something to say about it, something negative. That is why we created important online reputation management strategies to help you out!
This is where you always say, “boo, your opinion!”, right? But, that is not the solution. Sometimes consumers get the wrong end of the stick about your product or service, and all it takes is one of those people and bang! … your product loses its value and reputation, otherwise which it could have had or already has.
So, online reputation management isn’t just for Microsoft, Intel or Apple of the consumer world. The point to be noted is that it is so easy for anyone to populate the internet with negative reviews, and the web holds the perfect places to do so. For example, Google Maps, Yelp, Trip Advisor and other review sites allow customers to have their say about a certain brand. This allows others to view that brands ratings and read what experiences customers have had with them in the past.
However, it is not the end of the world for your product. Where there is a will, there is definitely a way! Lets discuss some tactics that will help your product maintain its reputation, and how to initiate conversation with customers and develop those into productive conversations.
Can you hear me?
Yes, that’s right! You just have to listen to the right places. Blogs, review sites, surveys, polls, online questionnaires, social media networks etc. The most important thing to do is to set up alerts for your keyword(s). You can use Google Alerts, Yahoo! Pipes and tons of RSS feeds to help you in the right direction. Remember, you have all the time in the world, just spend most of it listening. It brings a smile on your brand’s face, eventually.
Here is a list of some review sites where you can start listening to your customers, depending on the type of your brand.
· Yelp – www.yelp.com
· Yahoo! Local – http://local.yahoo.com
· Google Places – www.google.com
· Tripadvisor – www.tripadvisor.com
· Angie’s List – www.angieslist.com
· Citysearch – www.citysearch.com
· Urban Spoon – www.urbanspoon.com
This is where time and money come into play. For accurate results, you definitely need to spend (a little of both) in a monitoring service. So, spend time scraping the Web for information about your brand. Think of you being a reviewer and use search engines to seek out reviews. This will answer your question: “What’s wrong with my product?”
A Token Of Appreciation
Once you have found out where people are saying and what, the next step is to communicate with them. This is the part where you have to keep calm, hold on to your nerves, and act professional. We know that people don’t like others saying negative things about them, in this case the brands. But reacting with a positive frame of mind and attitude is the key. You have to inject into the bad reviewers mind that you are here, and you care about them.
If the review is posted on a blog, you can either post a comment or send an email to the author asking him or her why this has happened and what you can do to make future services better. You, as an online reputation expert have to know how far you can go to make things better. If the bad reviewer is just another person on the internet, and has posted it on his blog somewhere, simple reasoning usually does the trick. However, if that person is an active reviewer on popular platforms, you can either give him a refund or an apology with some compliments on the house. What this will do is make the reviewer think and he will either update his review or write another one, in your brands favor of course – a token of appreciation! See what small acts of kindness can do?
You have to rinse and repeat this tactic, not all people are the same. So, dealing is difficult with people at times. But do not lose focus here. Even if you have let’s say changed the opinions of 7 out of 10 people, you have certainly done a good job – and it will keep getting better with time and a little patience.
SEO To The Rescue
On the other hand, here is what you can do in parallel to make sure you don’t fail. You can remove the negativity by ranking high in the search results. “Rise I shall!” Here is how:
Create a blog, a page on your website or a new website just for the purpose of writing some positive or unbiased reviews about your business.
Create presence on all major social media platforms.
Ask your customers, with good relationships, to write some positive reviews about your brand on those platforms and the websites or blogs you created.
Ask your product partners to give you ratings.
Send a free version of your product to important people on the internet, and ask them to review it. It’s well worth the time and effort spent!
Expand your business to incorporate affiliates and let them do the work – incentives!
Contact an online marketing expert to do his magic on your review sites you created! (SEO-link building)
Eventually, these pages will rise in rankings and all those negative ones will get outranked. Searchers usually do not go beyond the 2nd or 3rd page of search results. So, hard work is required to maintain the 1st page position.
Online reputation management is must for any brand regardless if you work solo, with a couple of people, or a couple hundred. The good thing about it is that you will learn more about your product from others that you would have otherwise. And, it most definitely helps your product grow and stay green online.
You can always hire an online reputation expert and a search engine optimization expert to do all of the tedious work for you. Again, it could be worth the time and money.