Reputations don’t just happen, but often, they are earned. When you have repeated positive impressions about someone, you are likely to see them in a good light even if you receive information to the contrary. You could hear some unfavorable talk about someone, and if you don’t feel you know them that well, it can be tempting to believe what is being said. If you have a positive view of someone that has been built up through good experiences, you may dismiss what you hear as malicious gossip or an exaggeration.
The same is true of companies. Many companies are anxious about negative reviews, sharp criticisms on social media or an expose about their industry in a news outlet, but if customers have a positive view of the company before the negative stories hit, the scandals are less likely to make an impact. That is one reason why reputation management has to be proactive and an integral part of marketing rather than a means to put out PR fires when they have already done significant damage.
Social Media Savvy
Social media has created a whole new world of marketing and reputation management. In the past, companies could simply advertise their products to consumers without hearing feedback on a daily basis. Customers might call up the company hotline for a complaint, but otherwise, marketing departments needed to conduct written or telephone surveys to find out how customers felt about their products and those of their competitors.
Social media has made it not only possible but popular to discuss feelings about a product or service right after the experience of it. Consumer feedback is instantaneous and can be shared with thousands of people, or millions if the comment or tweet goes viral. People feel their opinions matter and can have an impact, which strengthens the consumers’ feeling of control, but can be bewildering for companies that don’t necessarily know how to deal with all of these comments.
A social media marketing strategy for reputation management means interacting with existing and prospective customers online. Transparency is recommended when talking about your company and it is good for the people you interact with to have the impression that you are candid about the workings of your company and your products. This transparency can be a double-edged sword because it can invite people to be more candid about how they feel about your products, which can generate negative commentary. It takes some social media and marketing savvy to strike a balance between transparency and pushing your product and your company’s story.
Working with a Reputation Manager
Many social media strategies are perfected through trial and error, but you may not be able to afford mistakes when running your company. This is one reason you may want to hire a reputation defender to help bolster your company when there has been a PR fallout and to create a digital marketing strategy that will get your company’s story out there before there is a problem that compromises your brand’s reputation. Working with a reputation manager early on in the building of your company can provide a kind of buffer against threats to your brand’s reputation.
One mistake many companies mistake is to enlist the services of a reputation manager too late. When negative news is brewing, that is when you should contact a professional if you haven’t already. Once the scandal has broken and is all over social and traditional media, it can be a challenge to try to deal with the aftermath, although there are few situations that are truly beyond hope. Companies have gone through rough periods when products are recalled or management faces a serious scandal. In many cases, strong companies can survive these PR headwinds, but the odds of survival are much greater with the help of professionals who can devise a reputation management strategy.
Google Is Your Friend
In the old days, having a great billboard or ad in the Sunday paper was a ticket to success for many companies. A decade ago, perfecting a website was essential to drum up an online business. Currently, having positive news about your company appear on the first page of the Google search result is a major factor that can contribute to your success. Ideally, your company’s name with a positive spin should appear in the first four results. Most of the initial results these days are advertisements, and this can also be a good thing, but it is better if the top items are articles about your brand.
Having a solid content strategy is crucial for getting your brand’s story at the top of the search engines. This means producing informative articles, blogs and other types of content that interest readers and encourage them to share the content on social media. Many people decide whether they want to go to a website and browse for products based on what they see at the top of the Google searches, so make sure your company is there and the story is positive.