How to Reinvent Your Online Reputation for the New Year

It’s the start of a new year, which means you probably have some big goals and ideas in mind for your brand. That’s great, but it’s important you don’t overlook a big area of improvement: your online reputation!

Taking time to assess your reputation online is a great way to consider (and improve) the overall health of the brand. Consider the following:

  • Do you exemplify your brand’s core values?
  • Are you effectively reaching your target audience?
  • What role does your business play in the industry? Are you influential?

Each of the points above are important to how consumers and competitors view your business, so consider doing a yearly reputation checkup when setting goals for the year. For example, failure to adequately meet your audience’s needs can cause a swell in complaints, which in turn damages your rep. On the other hand, a better rep and confidence in the brand can translate to sales.

Brand reputation and customer satisfaction go hand-in-hand, so let’s get started on improving both with these online reputation management tips.

Be Pro-Active by Listening to Consumers

You can’t reinvent your rep if you don’t know what people are saying about you. It’s essential that you make an effort to always listen to what consumers are saying about your brand. A good place to start is to monitor keywords and hashtags related to your business and industry. Listen in on what’s said about competitors, too, to get a sense of the conversation online. Google Alerts, Hootsuite and Tweet Binder are great online reputation management tools.

Listening shouldn’t be passive; respond to engagement—both good and bad—whenever possible. Is someone complaining about an issue with your product? Let them know you want to set things right! Is an enthusiastic fan spreading the love online? Consider reaching out to reward them with merch or a personalized offer. Either way, thank people for their feedback so they’re aware you’re listening and receptive to their needs.

Protect Your Reputation by Claiming Business Listings

If your brand or business is on Yelp, Foursquare, Google Maps, Bing Places for Business or more, be sure to claim listings for it. This protects others from claiming the listings for malicious intent, so you can retain control.

Better Brand Reputation Management = Improving Customer Service Efforts

You may have found that your brand is generating a lot of buzz on social, but a worrying percentage of it isn’t as positive as you’d like it to be. Disgruntled consumers turn to social media to voice their complaints often because they don’t know where else to go—so by streamlining your customer service efforts, you can discourage a swath of angry comments that could damage your reputation.

Here’s what you should ask yourself when vetting your customer service:

  • Is it easy for customers to reach us online? Make sure users can get in touch quickly and easily, so you can fix an issue before they scream into the social media void. Offer options for getting in touch on all your social media profiles.
  • Can we deal with problems quickly? The conversation on social is fast, so users aren’t very patient; for example, 72% of consumers complaining on Twitter expect a response in just an hour. You want to resolve issues as fast as possible to both impress your customers and to keep a complaint from going viral, so quickening your pace is a must. Community monitoring tools like Hootsuite contain metrics that help you discover ways your team can work faster and more accurately.
  • Are we transparent enough? While it might seem risky, encourage users to provide feedback on your site and profiles—good and bad. Being transparent means you have nothing to hide, and even if someone voices a grievance, you can work to make it right: 1 in 3 consumers who post a complaint and receive a response will post a positive review, with 34% deleting their negative one (source).

Start Discussions, Then Participate in Them!

Shape the narrative around your brand by fostering discussion, asking questions and sparking conversation on your blog and profiles. Depending on how your fans respond, you can glean some insight on their needs, desires and uncertainties—poising your brand to deliver.

Encouraging discussion on your profiles is also great because it moves the conversation from the social media diaspora into one place: your social accounts, which you can moderate as you like. By focusing the conversation in one place, you can better—and more quickly!—respond to grievances before they develop into reputation-killing controversies.

Remember: humanize your business in these discussions. Don’t fall into the trap of corporatespeak; approach situations with sympathy and a sense of humor, and your fans will think better of you.

Become an Influencer with Your Brand

A great way to reinvent your reputation is to become an influencer within your industry. Here’s how being a voice within your industry helps your rep:

  • It gains respect and trust for your brand.
  • Being an influencer will help to make connections with other brands in the industry.
  • You’ll remain on-trend—or make the trends!
  • Generating influential content helps your SEO.

Consider making awesome content that highlights your brand’s role in the industry, or collaborate with others within it. With a forward-thinking approach, your business will garner admiration from customers, employees and others in the industry. Taking the Holstee Manifesto as an example, consider how your core values can reach and inspire a large audience with the right messaging.

Successfully becoming an influencer is a big task, so set this as your main reputation management goal for the year.

Consider Getting Outside Help for Online Reputation Management

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or short-staffed in reputation management, consider hiring an ORM agency. Be careful, though: don’t invest in a company that’ll cut corners to save a buck. When seeking out agencies to help your own reputation, check if their reputation is good first.

One of The Smartest Online Reputation Management Tools: Automated Moderation

You probably noticed how most of the online reputation management tips above revolve around comments and conversation. After all, that’s what social media is about! So how can you easily wrangle some control over the always-moving, fast-changing conversation? Try setting up an automated moderation tool.

Smart Moderation is a great tool for reputation management, because it hides trolling, profanity and abusive language almost immediately, within a minute of posting. While responding to criticism is always a good idea, there’s no place for abusive, profane language in any online community. By whisking it away quickly, your team can focus their time and effort on genuine engagement, speeding up your overall process of community monitoring and customer service. It even integrates into Hootsuite, if that’s your community monitoring tool of choice.

By encouraging and responding to conversation without having to worry about moderation, you’re taking a big first step to reinventing your brand’s reputation for the better. Let’s start the year on a good note together—try the software for free!