Social media reputation management can benefit companies of every size and across all industries. People these days live a digital life which is as important as the real-life, and they depend on the Internet to find information and to make buying decisions. The reputation of a business plays an important role in the buying decisions made by consumers. In fact, online reputation plays a more important role as compared to promotions, direct messages as well as advertising.
Don’t be under the impression that the reputation of a business is dependent on the content of their website or their marketing communication. Website content plays a part but the content outside of your own digital properties such as on social media also has a huge impact on your online reputation.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Ignoring Social Media Reputation Management
Most small businesses do not believe in proactive reputation management and it puts them in a vulnerable position. If you are a small business and the only presence you have online is your website, you are already a sitting duck. If someone writes negative stuff about your business on social media or creates a site targeting your business, those online properties could come up when someone searches for your business name. Potential customers frequently search a business name, especially in cases of established local businesses and if those businesses have some bad stuff about them ranking in the search results, it can have a huge impact on their bottom line.
Online reputation management has been growing at a breathtaking pace for many years now. My own company has worked hard on hundreds of cases of online reputation repair. I can confidently say that the failure of a business to invest in quickly developing their online reputation and presence proactively will lead to far higher cost in the future in terms of abrupt reputation damage, loss of substantial revenues and costs of developing the online presence they have neglected so far.
There are also businesses that are tied closely to their founders or proprietors which means they also need to protect the reputation of those individuals proactively. I know a lot of executives who tend to avoid all social media in order to keep a low profile and to have privacy. However, it is a big mistake as they do not have any online assets around their name which makes them a target for online reputation damage in case someone decides to target them specifically.
While neglecting social media is bad but poor handling of social media is worse. Others can damage your online reputation but nobody can do as much damage as yourself in case you have no idea what you are doing online. It is especially true in case of entrepreneurs as well as people employed by small businesses as they need to be a jack of all trades to operate their small businesses effectively.
Social Media Reputation Management – The Definition
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the subject, let’s discuss what this whole thing is all about.
Succinctly put, it’s a complex process that involves a lot of things such as:
- Proper handling of negative comments and having processes in place to avoid them completely
- Cultivation of positive attitude towards a brand
- Brand mentions tracking
- Customer reviews tracking
Social Media Reputation Management – Benefits
There are a lot of reasons for investing in social media reputation management but here are the 3 most important reasons:
- It leads to huge improvement in customer satisfaction.
- It allows you to get honest feedback from your customers.
- It helps in substantially enhancing the credibility level of your brand.
Customer Satisfaction Improvement
First impression matters and you should do everything in your power to leave an excellent first impression on your first-time customers. These customers will have a lot of questions about your brand and one of the ways for you to get new customers is to share valuable information about your brand. In case some of your customers are not satisfied with the service or product, they are likely to share this bad experience on social media. In such cases, you can’t just shut your eyes. You need to respond properly.
Your response should be based on the problems faced by them. You might want to give them a discount for a new product and ask them to explain the problem they have faced. You need to do something and whatever you choose to do is going to raise the satisfaction levels of your customers. This strategy has multiple benefits. It will not only help in winning over the customer with the problem but it will also help in enhancing your profile in the entire community following you. People appreciate real gestures.
Honest Customer Feedback
Some business owners welcome honest feedback even if it comes in the form of a negative review. It tells them where they can improve things. If a few of your customers have experienced the same problem, it tells you the things you need to work on to improve customer satisfaction levels.
Enhancing Brand Credibility
Your response to negative remarks about your business tells a lot about your professionalism. In fact, good social media reputation also rubs onto your credibility. Your positive response tells customers that you care about them. They believe that you will stand by them in case there is a problem. Don’t forget that these are the core characteristics of every single successful brand.
Now that we have discussed the importance of managing your social media reputation, we are going to discuss how you should go about that. One of the best ways to learn is to figure out how other successful brands are doing what they are doing.
Create Optimized Profiles to Rank and Impress on Social Media
If you want to rank your social media profiles high in the search engine result pages, these need to be optimized properly. Unfortunately, many people overlook this and it hurts their brand. If you already maintain a presence on some social media platforms, it’s time to take a close look at your profiles.
Optimization of your social media profiles will also give a better understanding to search engines regarding what that profile is about. Here is a list of some of the important areas you need to focus on:
- Name: Always use your full name including any relevant qualifiers when you are creating a username or listing your name or customizing the URL of your social media profile. Also, your name should be consistent across various social media platforms.
- Photograph: It should be a professional picture featuring you. Make sure it follows the recommended size for that particular site and you should also label it with your name.
- Biography: The biography should be about you and should be original. Make use of all the space allowed to you. Try to write in 3rd person to include your name in this section. Including your name will allow search engines to better understand that the content is about you and it will help in managing your social media reputation.
- Location: Including the public location will help in enhancing local search engine rankings and also differentiate you from others with similar names in other locations.
- Website link: Social media platforms allow you to have a link in your profile and this link should be your website. It allows users to know more about you.
- Descriptions: Fill out everything on your profile and try to provide as much information as possible. You might want to talk about your skills, the places where you volunteer, your hobbies or other such things. The goal is to make your profile as complete as possible.
How to Create an Engaged Audience for Better Social Media Online Reputation Management
After optimizing your profile, you need to start taking steps to towards audience engagement. Here are a few tips to help you with this.
Headline Should Be Catchy
Headlines play an important role in attracting users. Try to create headlines with funny words as it will help in increasing click through rate. Try asking a question related to the content or make use of a current trend that might be of interest to your customers. If you’re posting a list, you might want to ask readers whether they like a particular item on that list. If the users are interested, they will click on the link to answer this question and read your post. Posting questions helps in increasing engagement as it elicits a response from users, and it also helps in communicating with the end users.
Social media is all about visuals and attractive visual media including videos or photos attract more eyeballs. Users of social media platforms are more attracted to posts with beautiful images as compared to articles with just text. Also, content with high quality images is likely to be shared more. Due to these reasons, you need to use a high quality image to go with your post. Make sure the image is related to the content. When somebody clicks, they shouldn’t be disappointed with the content. It will affect them negatively and they will, most likely, never return to your website.
Contests are a powerful method to attract users. When choosing the prize for the contest, pay attention to what your customer base likes. For instance, tickets to a technology fair or the latest tablet is the right choice for a business focused on electronics. High-quality contests can boost brand visibility. You can go one step further by requiring users to share their post on social media as eligibility to enter the contest.
Great visuals and contests are a way to get people to click on those links but you need to post quality content to convert them into repeat customers. Your content should be compelling, well researched and there shouldn’t be any grammar or spelling errors. Make use of effective keywords. Keep up with the latest SEO updates to achieve high rankings in search engine results pages but the most important thing is the content quality.
Focused Social Media Presence
You might be aware of the basic characteristics of the customer base such as their age range but you might not be aware of their most frequented social media platforms. Focus group research can help you with that. One way to keep your business in front of these clients is to be present on the social media platforms they frequent most. It will help in getting new customers and also engage existing customers.
- Use Comments to Grow Your Social Media Network
Your website is an excellent resource to get customers to your social media profiles. Your customers get to know about the current promotions and share links with their own social media contacts when they visit your social media profiles. One of the ways to make your customers aware of your social media profiles is to include links to your profiles in the comment section on your own website. Whenever you reply to a comment made by a customer, make sure to include a link to your social media profile in your reply. It helps in increasing awareness about your social media profiles.
Monitor Social Media Activity for Better Reputation Management
Research suggests that almost 96% of unhappy customers don’t like to complain directly to businesses. However, they share these problems with their friends. These are known in the industry as dark complaints and it happens when someone shares a negative experience with your business on one of their social media profiles but doesn’t tag your brand. Without actively looking for these negative experiences, you will miss out on this critical information.
However, you can’t just monitor all the social media activity in a few minutes. You need a dedicated team or an employee though the size of your team will depend on the size of your social presence and your brand. Thankfully, there are a number of free options to get started and there are also a number of managed services to help you with it in case you have the budget.
Focus on Getting Social Reviews
Don’t shy away from your customers. One of the ways to get ahead in managing your social media reputation is to engage your customers and to encourage them to share their experiences, good or bad, on social media platforms. Try to immediately respond to all the negative comments. It shows that you care and it also gives you a chance to solve the problem right away. This also tells the customers that you are willing to do anything for your clients.
Immediate Reply to Negative Comments
Nobody likes to get negative reviews or mean tweets but it’s going to happen. You are always going to have a customer who doesn’t like a product or service and writes about it on social media.
The best way to deal with negative comments is to respond immediately. Don’t ignore these negative comments. Here is how you should go about managing negativity on your social media files:
Begin by acknowledging the problem and make sure to apologize to the customer for any inconvenience. If the problem faced by your customer is not your business’s fault, start by telling them that you are sorry to hear about that poor experience.
You always need to be polite even when the comments don’t make any sense or are written poorly.
Don’t be shy to delete offensive comments. If the comments insult your customers, employees or brand, you should remove those comments to prevent further escalation.
Use humor to manage conflict. A clever joke can always save the situation.
Learn to never argue with your customers in the comment section.
Always try to move the conversation away from social media. Ask them to send a direct message or to get in touch with the customer support team. There are some good tips in this piece about removing ripoff reports.
Negative Reviews Are a Reality
Negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. As per the data released by the Reevoo, 95% of consumers don’t really trust fake reviews when they are unable to find any negative reviews about a company online. These statistics tell a story. It simply means that your goal shouldn’t be to attain 100% five-star reviews and zero negative reviews. You should be focused on obtaining real and honest customer reviews that typically list out the major advantages of your product along with some of its not-so-significant disadvantages.
As per the experts, the idea ratio of praise–criticism online is 5:1. In simple terms, 5 positive reviews are needed for every negative review to convince potential customers that the products you are selling are real and worth spending money on.
By following the above tips you will go a long way to improving your social media reputation management.