bad reputation - telling a secret

The Social Stigma: The Importance of Your Online Reputation

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A bad online reputation can turn a perfectly good company into a business pariah.

They say that thanks to the Internet, we’re never truly alone.

And when you think about it, they’re right—we’re connected to each other through more ways that we realize. Email accounts. Messenger apps. Social media. The proverbial “town hall” has made the transition to digital, with online platforms and social media becoming the hot new place to discuss emerging issues.

The problem here is that unlike the town halls of old, every discussion, complaint, and argument made online is digitally etched into cyberspace. Angry customers and poor product reviews don’t just fade away—they follow you. They appear in search. Data by Dimensional Research found that 86 percent of buyers were influenced by negative online reviews of a prospective business.

A bad online reputation does more than just make you look bad. A bad reputation devalues your brand.

Reputation Management

Because of the quasi-permanent nature of the online world (and social media in particular), your brand can’t afford to have people discussing it without your say. Despite what you’ve been told, there IS such a thing as bad press. Research by the London School of Economics found that even a two percent reduction in negative word of mouth boosted sales growth by one percent.

While that might not sound like much, consider the online reputation of a multi-national company. A one percent sales growth simply for improving what people are saying is nothing to sneeze at. We’ve compiled a few ways your business can improve its social reputation, even before problems arise:

1. Get Equipped

It’s hard to track your online reputation without a few tools to back you up.

Social media monitoring tools like those provided by Google Alerts, Social Mention or Wholinkstome provide you with everything you need and more to keep watch of what folks are saying about you. Whether you’re monitoring general mentions, comments on your blogs, or forum use, equipping your business with data tracking software is a necessary first step of keeping your good name safe.

2. Tracking Keywords

Now that we’re equipped with our tools, we can begin specifically monitoring what people are saying. Are there common phrases that keep coming up on your pages? These will likely include your company name, product titles, or specific employees, but can also include phrases that indicate poor service. If your pages have phrases like “terrible” or “worst” popping up over and over, it’s a safe bet that you aren’t performing at your best.

3. Automate

Who has the time to sit on their computer and check social media all day? We’re not in high school any more, and most of us have jobs to do outside of refreshing Facebook. To streamline things, you can set up automated alerts or RSS feeds that tell you when specific keywords pop up. This can be a great way to monitor emerging customer service complaints and lets you address your customers fast.

4. Happy Agents

Of course, it doesn’t matter how many trends you track if you can’t make your frustrated customers happy. This is where your agents come in.

The agents responding to your customers should be well-trained and maintain a positive attitude. Just like with phone service, customers can subconsciously tell when agents are disengaged with their work. Train your agents to focus on the person on the other end of the computer rather than the sterile “problem” they have to fix.

5. Be Proactive

The only thing that makes customers happier than problem resolution is resolution before they realize they have a problem. What do we mean?

Say your new product line X123 recently experienced a malfunction that rendered it unusable. Rather than waiting for customers to experience this issue and contact your support line, you can use the keyword tracking tools discussed above to search for “X123” and “problem” or “malfunction” to find affected users. From there, you can proactively reach out and inform them of the issue, as well as expressing your apologies and possible solutions. Customers may not have much tolerance for poor service or shoddy products, but proactive outreach can go a long way in improving their experience, even when the chips are down.

Keeping Your Name Clear

Remember, the Internet is written in stone. A bad review or unaddressed complaint on your social media page can haunt your brand for years. While this isn’t always avoidable, there are several easy steps you can take to mitigate the damage. Use automated tools and knowledge of your market to monitor trending phrases over time. Quick and proactive responses on social media are the best way to generate loyalty and keep your users happy. Want to learn more about managing your online reputation with social tracking? Check out our free white paper!

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