In 2018, 86% of consumers stated that they'd consider leaving reviews for brands.
There's nothing more uplifting for a business owner than reading positive comments about their brand.
But what about when those comments aren't that nice?
Negative reviews don't have to be a huge deal if know how to handle them. Luckily, there's an entire area within digital marketing that's dedicated to the online reputation of brands. Read about it and you'll quickly learn how to deal with negative comments like a boss.
This article is a great starting point, as we bring you 13 online reputation management tips. They're simple to implement, yet can make the world of a difference in how you are perceived in the digital world.
Some of them are preventive and others are reactive. It'd be amazing to stay on top of every single comment or review that's published about your brand or products. But with so many users and so many platforms they can use, it becomes hard to do so.
So keep reading and learn how you can deal with negative reviews and prevent others from being posted!
13 Online Reputation Management Tips
In short, your online reputation consists of what people write about you, on social media, on review websites or even their own personal blogs.
If all that's written was always positive, everything would be great.
But that's not only the case and things can easily get heated when customers aren't shy to express their discontent. That's exactly when knowing online reputation management methods can come in handy.
1. Reply to Negative Comments Professionally
We know that it can be hard not to take negative feedback personally. As much as your first instinct might be to reply in the same tone, that'll do nothing but further damage the image of your brand.
Just think about it, if you saw your favorite brand feeding into petty online arguments, would you think about them the same way?
When it comes to negative comments, even to the most ridiculous and unreasonable ones, the best thing to do is stay calm and show the customer that you're willing to listen.
You'll see that in some situations the person might even realize that they weren't being fair in the way they expressed themselves.
2. Monitor Your Online Reputation
If your tactic when it comes to unpleasant comments is to simply deal with the ones you stumble upon, chances are that many users will see them before you get the chance to safeguard your image.
But it doesn't have to be like that.
If you just keep an eye on your online reputation, you'll have room for maneuver to address the complaints before they're seen by your other followers. This way you minimize damages.
This doesn't mean you'll have to have your social media pages open all day in order to catch all the comments as soon as they're posted. With tools like Google Alerts, for instance, you can automize the process and save time.
3. Be Where Your Target Is
When it comes to social media, many brands choose to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, because everyone knows that those are the big names.
If you're present in any or all of these and it seems to be working for your business, awesome! However, we do invite you to assess where most of your target audience is and to check if you're there too.
When your digital presence matches your audience's preferences, you get a better chance of building a positive image that can beat any negative comments you might get.
4. Don't Take Too Long to Reply to Negative Comments
Besides replying in a professional way, you should never take a long time to reply to negative feedback.
Do keep in mind that this doesn't mean you should comment back the first thing that comes to your mind just for the sake of replying. This will probably result in emotional responses and we know by now that that's not the way to go.
The secret is in putting some thought into how you'll handle their complaint while also showing efficiency in your response time.
We'll be honest, finding this balance will probably not be easy the first couple of times this happens. But as time goes by and you get more unfavorable comments - which is inevitable - you become more comfortable and quick on your feet.
One pro tip: if you find yourself in a situation where you really don't know what to say but you don't want to keep the customer waiting, you can always say that you're looking into their problem and that you'll get back to them as soon as possible.
This at least lets them know you're aware of the issue. Just don't forget to do what you promised!
5. Never, Ever Post Fake Reviews
When you're going through a rough time with your online image, you can be tempted to cheat and post some fake positive reviews. But that's a big no-no!
Search engines, as well as many social platforms, will notice if you do this, which can make you receive red flags and decrease your website's search ranking on Google.
Plus, fake reviews are often easy to spot. 41% of customers in American tend to check online reviews before buying a product, and 17% always do it. If they start to realize that the reviews in your social media pages are fake, they'll see you as a dishonest brand. And who wants to buy from a brand like that?
Honesty is always the best way of dealing with negative feedback, even if it takes you a while to get back on your feet.
6. Define Your Personal Brand
Customers know that there are humans behind every single brand. So why hide your name?
Establishing a strong personal brand can bring your business brand many benefits, one of them relating to your online reputation management.
Just think: if you promote yourself as being an expert in your industry, if you post relevant content and show every customer that you care about more than numbers and sales, you increase the chances of people posting positive comments about you.
Associate your name with your brand and it'll end up benefiting from this as well.
Plus, you'll be giving your brand a more human side, which may lead people to go easier on their complaints.
7. Ask for Reviews from Happy Customers
If your business is still going, it's because you're doing something right and you have customers who are happy with the experience they have/had with your brand.
And isn't that the ultimate goal of every single brand?!
But having happy customers can do more for your business than just generating sales. It can help you build a great online reputation!
Some people already have a habit of showing their satisfaction with a brand by giving it 5 stars on Facebook or leaving a nice review on Google+. But there's nothing wrong with reminding or encouraging those who aren't used to doing it.
Do keep in mind that you're not allowed to ask for positive reviews in exchange for something, like a discount or samples. These wouldn't be honest reviews anyway, so who needs them!
8. Work in Your Relationships With Your Customers
There are many reasons why it's crucial to know not only how to start but how to foster the relationship you have with your customers.
One of those reasons is because by doing so, you let them know first hand the type of business that you run. This way, when others post negative comments about you, your loyal customers will know that a) it isn't true or b) you made an honest mistake.
So by always acting according to your values and by building a brand that people cherish, you end up minimizing the damage that unpleasant feedback could otherwise cause.
9. Update Your Blog Regularly
At first glance, you might not see how keeping your blog updated can help you protect your online reputation.
Although it isn't as obvious of a tip as the other ones we've listed so far, that doesn't make it any less important or efficient.
Here's why: articles will work as positive content that can beat negative reviews in terms of search rankings. Plus, it'll show that you're an expert in your industry, which is a great way of building trust with your customers.
Notice that you can't just quickly put together articles and post them just for the sake of it. In order for your blog to be a useful online reputation management tool, your content needs to be well-written, relevant and optimized.
If you don't have type to write articles on top of all your other tasks, you can always outsource this job.
10. Admit to Your Mistakes
Nobody's perfect and, as a businessperson, you're sure to make mistakes from time to time. It's normal!
Keeping this in mind, it's always best to be transparent when your customers point out something that shouldn't have happened.
Being able to say "You're right, doing XYZ wasn't our best decision and we'll learn from it" shows that your brand is run by mature people and that alone can help change the minds of your unhappy customers.
In fact, 45% of users stated that they'd post about a positive interaction if a brand responds well to their negative comments.
After all, most of these comments come from honest people who are simply typing out of unhappiness or angriness. Once they get past those emotions, you'll be able to reason with them.
11. Make Changes
Even more important than taking accountability for your missteps is making sure you learn your lesson and apply it in the future.
As rude as some comments might come off as you can try and see them from a positive point-of-view. You'll know exactly what you need to work on in order to grow your brand and to provide a better service for your future customers.
Now of course, not every negative comment you get will be reasonable, so you shouldn't just let this type of feedback determine each business decision you make. You'll need to find a balance between listening to your customers and being to able to understand when they're right and when they're not.
12. Think Long Term
As you probably gathered from reading the previous 11 tips, many online reputation management methods are quick and easy to start. But that doesn't mean you'll see results as quickly.
It can take months for you to see actual results from many strategies, which is why it is a good idea to establish a long-term plan, with all the relevant data, as well as SMART goals.
This plan will work as your main guideline to check if you're on the right track to building the best online reputation possible.
Keep an eye on it, but never forget that it takes time for online reputation management to pay off, so you can't be discouraged if things advance at a slower pace than you wished.
13. Get Support from Professionals
It can be hard to deal with this type of feedback all by yourself, particularly when a certain situation gets out of hand and it seems like there's no way of saving your image.
The good news is that there are people who work in digital marketing and who specialize in online reputation management.
So whenever you feel like it's too much for you to handle, you can always resort to the service of others to salvage your name.
Negative Feedback Isn't the End of the World
As you can see now, there are many, many techniques you can use when you get less than nice comments on your social media pages. The most important thing is that you don't let them overwhelm you.
Negative comments aren't the end of your brand, as long as you learn how to handle them in the best way possible. In other words, as long as you keep all our online reputation management tips in mind!
If you need further guidance on how to do this, or if you need help with any other digital marketing-related question, you can always get in touch with us. We'll be more than happy to help you boost your digital presence!
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