The preceding post outlined some basic steps in monitoring the reputation of your organisation or brand online.
It is important to know what is being said about you online, but what can you do about it?
Four simple actions to take are:
- Claim your business
- Take care with the information that you can control
- Get the basics in place before promoting your message
- Respond carefully and immediately
1. Claim Your Business
In an earlier post I detailed ‘how to’ and tips on claiming your business on Google Places. A similar process should be followed to identify yourself as the owner of your organisation on high-traffic and relevant sites such as LinkedIn, Tripadvisor or Foursquare.
2. Take care with what you can control
You will go a long way towards managing your online reputation if you control what people find about you on search engines and directory-type sites.
As you monitor your business online, you will find it listed on hundreds, even thousands of websites, depending on your industry and the age of the company. Industry portals, business groups, directories and so on generally obtain this information from a limited range of sources – your annual submission to a professional body or local business association directory, for example. Yet this text is often thrown together without much consideration.
So, when completing company information anywhere, write it as if your most valuable customer will be reading it, and contact sites where you are currently listed to provide complete and updated details.
Take care also with the ‘meta data’ of your website pages; this dictates how you look not only in search engine results, but in the snapshot of your website that is displayed in social media sites such as Facebook.
3. Get The Basics in Place
In the past few days, I have encountered an advertised Facebook page with unanswered complaints stacking up, a job advertised for a marketing company without a website that tops Google with “I am taking XX company to court” and a technology consultancy company that joined the IIA and whose website says “coming soon”.
So, don’t pay for expensive Facebook adverts unless you have a strategy and process in place for dealing with negative comments. Follow steps 1. and 2. above to push negative content down search engine rankings, and don’t pay for online promotion until you are ready to impress.
4. Respond Considerately and Quickly
If something negative about your business is posted online, respond quickly and address the detail of the issue, so the complainant and other viewers are reassured that you understand and acknowledge the problem. If possible, take the discussion offline and if relevant, apologise. Sincerity and empathy can go a long way.
When the dust has settled, pre-empt similar issues in future by posting FAQs, stating your Facebook (or whatever) policy clearly in advance or addressing offline the root of the complaint. As Clinton and Woods would attest, people do forgive and forget.
I welcome your thoughts, comments or examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of online reputation management.