This is a guest post written for the V3 blog by my friend, Josh Titsworth. We first met through random social media interaction (which quickly evolved into quick repartee – my favorite kind) on Twitter. Then we managed to meet in ‘real’ life – whatever the heck that is and I discovered he’s as snarky there as he is online. Josh is an SEO Analyst for Vizion Interactive and when he isn’t online tweeting or blogging, he can be found tracking down shanked golf balls on public courses.
5 Tips For Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management, “ORM” to geeks like me, is a really big deal. Simply defined, this is what individuals see when your name/brand is searched for online via search engine or social media. While it is difficult to regain reputation lost, there are some simple measures that can be taken to help avoid crises altogether, and/or minimize (or contain) them if they happen.
Set Up Social Media Profiles
So you’ve made the decision that clients you serve aren’t active enough in social media to engage them there. And in my opinion, not every type of client base will be. But rest assured, if your clients aren’t involved with social media, the critics and trolls are. Even if you don’t plan on using the accounts, set them up anyway so no one can start a “fake account” using your exact brand name. Spoof accounts have popped up over the years, but it really gets disastrous when a company fails to get control of their brand name. When you neglect to use social media you are allowing other to speak for you as if they were you.
Respond in a Timely Manner
It should be a no brainer that social media is a great way to engage with customers. However, nothing stirs up customers more than being ignored. It’s fine if you’re only tweeting every few hours or so, but make it a point to check any messages/emails/@replies every 20 minutes or so. On top of that, make it clear on your profiles and website how frequently the messages are checked (and stick to it) so customers have a rough idea when to expect a reply. The last thing any company wants to see is their name being abused by upset customers.
Don’t Engage Critics Online
I’m getting tired of typing this, but it’s true, engaging clients online is good for your business. However, when you start communicating with critics/trolls/flamers you may be opening Pandora’s Box (remember Nestlé’s Facebook Fanpage?). It can be easy to read the banter and want to respond wittily, but unless your brand is built on being snarky and sarcastic, I’d shy away from it. Offer to take the discussion offline, even go so far as to privately send them a phone number to speak directly to a person, not an automated phone system. Sometimes people just want to rant, so let them, but also offer them a direct source to vent at as well as get some answers — and, more importantly, a resolution to their problem.
Monitor Your Brand
Do you want to completely blow your chances at succeeding? Then don’t pay attention to what is being said and who is saying it about your company. If, however, you do want to pay attention to this, I’d check out Trackur (which has a very basic free service) or some of the paid services which are pretty awesome – services like Spiral16, or Radian6 or a host of others. On the off chance you can’t afford to pay for these services, there is a poor man’s ORM monitor; it’s called “Google Alerts.” Setting up a Google Alert for your company is pretty easy to do, and I’m really surprised when I hear businesses don’t universally use it. How else will you know if an upset customer has written a nasty blog post about you? Or how can you tell if the New York Times has mentioned your business in an article? Don’t wait for someone else to tell you about the news. Being first to know when your company is mentioned is a great way to respond quickly and let upset clients know you are listening — especially when they don’t think you are.
Do Good Business
Shocking right? Even after doing all of the above, it’s still possible to have a horrible reputation online. How, you ask? Provide craptastic service and say one thing then do another; trust me, your reputation will catch up with you online. Once it does you’ll need the help of an ORM company, I just so happen to know of one (shameless plug here). But before you start thinking you’ve got a way out of your reputation, think again. ORM companies can clean up the SERPs for you, but ultimately it is the business owner who determines the reputation of the company. Reputation management isn’t there to act as a “cover-up.”
One last point, don’t assume that ORM is only important for big business. Whether you run a local travel agency, a group of restaurants or a consulting business looking out for the needs of your clients, reputation is really a calling card to success. And being proactive about managing your reputation and knowing what’s being said online is a key component of good business practices.
Looking for more information on ORM? Below are a few of my favorite articles on the topic (btw, the blogs they are from are pretty good too, so subscribe):
You Deserve Your Bad Online Reputation
Google On Manipulating Search For ORM
DIY ORM Without The Nasty Emotional Breakdown
The 5 Google Reputation Management Tactics I Don’t Normally Reveal
Business Owner Shows How NOT to Respond to Negative Comments on Yelp
The Twelve Most Important Reputations In Social Media Monitoring