Many online marketers have talked about the powerful messages sent by Google reviews and brand mentions across social media. With users hunting down ratings, reviews, and scams, businesses need to look at their proactive reputation management plans and see the impact of their reviews firsthand.
It’s Time for Proactive Reputation Management
Most businesses have had issues in some fashion with negative reviews, poor ratings, bad comments, or even worse, BBB complaints. If your business is still dealing with the impact of negative reviews or if you just want to create a strategy for handling your online reputation, these tips can help your team jump online and take action.
1. Conduct an Online Reputation Audit
It’s time to get your team together and look at all of your owned media online. In a spreadsheet, you can list all channels and profiles that you own on the web.
Here are some questions you should answer with this audit:
- Is your brand accurately represented with the newest logos?
- Does content match your style guide?
- How often are you posting?
- What are people saying in comments and reviews on these pages?
- Have you replied to comments? Was the brand voice on par with your style guide?
- Is your contact information correct?
- Who is responsible for posting content to these channels?
It’s important to include the link and any other notes about each profile, including improvements and positive insights that you find through analytical data. For example, you can look at Facebook Insights for information on your top posts by business page. Other social sites also have analytics including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
2. Streamline Your Brand Presence Across All Channels
Before even responding to negative reviews or brand mentions on social, businesses need to make sure that their profiles have a positive brand presence. The main social channels include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, but businesses also have to consider their Google My Business profile.
Each profile should have the following before you start bringing more attention to your brand:
- Beautifully designed brand graphics streamlined across all social media profiles and websites
- Well-written SEO content about your products and services
- Blogs with current information and helpful tips for your customers
- Daily posts and new content with images and videos
- Over 1,000 followers and likes (bare minimum for a small business, should be more for a larger corporation
- Correct contact information and links to your website, products, and customer service
- Live chat or other online customer service portals, such as an email address for customers in need of help
- Utilize Twitter and Facebook Messenger for Business for customer questions, sharing new content, and answering customer service issues
3. Apologize and Privatize
When it comes to handling negative reviews, you need to be the most proactive. Some complaints will be over the top, unfair, and biased. Some may not even make sense. It’s important to find a brand tone that apologizes and nullifies the negative sentiment.
We suggest the following approach:
- Designate someone to reply negative comments, Tweets, and reviews where possible
- Create a branded response library with common information and replies to the biggest complaints or simple “FAQs” such as “how far is the hotel from the airport in San Francisco?” Your library can have a response ready that accurately provides this information. However, don’t forget to make it unique by calling out the customer’s name and referencing their unique review or comment.
- Use software like Smart Moderation to add “bad words” so that comments are automatically moderated on your page
- Offer a private email or phone number when replying to negative reviews, such as “We’re sorry for this experience and want to learn more so we can make it better. Please contact me at [XXX-XXX-XXX] or [email protected]”
In addition, some platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Google Reviews allow you to flag posts and remove ones that are completely unfair and unfounded. However, there is a process and it takes a while to get these reviews off your page.
4. Avoid These Common Reputation Management Mistakes
Google has changed their policies on advertising for reviews, and there are a few other things that companies must remember when handling complaints and poor ratings.
- Never offer incentives for positive reviews or discourage negative reviews
- If you have an email asking for reviews, just focus on asking what the customers think, but don’t try to re-route negative reviews away from Google
- Don’t skip over long reviews or ignore the facts. Read through reviews to pinpoint issues and document them for the correct department, this is how you fix major problems that keep popping up
- Never get into online arguments even if you are right. In some cases this works, especially if it’s a fluke review and the customer just looks self-righteous or wrong, but it doesn’t look good for your business to go tit-for-tat online
Ultimately, your reputation management takes a big investment. Your customer service, marketing, and sales teams all have to work together to make sure that customers are satisfied and receive what they paid for. It’s also about going the extra mile to get repeat business from customers as well.