Many of us grew up with our well-meaning relatives and friends giving us advice that was meant to protect us and keep us happy and healthy. Tried and true mainstays like “Look both ways before crossing the street” and “Always wear your seat belt” were impressed on our minds over and over again to make sure they stuck and we remembered them.
As business owners marketing our businesses online, we need to add one more saying to our repertoire:
“Check yourself before you wreck yourself”
Checking Yourself With Reputation Management
One of the best things you can do to keep an eye on how things are going for your business is to manage your online reputation. What is reputation management? In simple terms, reputation management is the process of managing your reputation with an emphasis on the virtual aspects.
You can usually manage your online reputation most easily using social media and various reporting / monitoring tools and services that can alert you when someone is talking about your business somewhere on the internet. By taking an active role and making it a habit to watch out for your brand online you will know in advance if something that reflects poorly on you occurs, or at least you will become aware at the same time everyone else is taking notice. The worst thing that can happen is to be one of the last to know!
Video: Top 10 Social Media Monitoring Tools
The author’s top 10 favorite social media monitoring tools. Between the content of this video and the links below you should have plenty of candidates for social media monitoring tools to try out for your business!
How can you be proactive and monitor your reputation online? Check out some of these posts:
- Top 10 Free Tools for Monitoring Your Brand’s Reputation – by Dan Schawbel
- Reputation Management and Social Monitoring Made Easy – by Gary-Adam Shannon
- Reputation Management: Monitoring Your Brand Online – by Mike Supple
A crisis happens to the best businesses from time to time, even world-famous and well-known brands like KitchenAid and Chrysler. Someone forgets to sign out of the company account they are responsible for, or forgets they are not on their personal account when they publish something to a social network like Twitter or Facebook. Suddenly this employee’s thoughts are presented as those of the company itself, and more often than not the posted material is not appropriate for the brand’s voice.
For more information on managing a crisis, check out these posts:
- The Business Value Behind Social Media: Part 6 – Disaster Recovery & Crisis Communications – by Tony Faustino
- Don’t Be Scared Be Prepared – How to Manage a Social Media Crisis – by Jay Baer
- Crisis Recovery: Advice from the experts – by Ann Morris
- Are you ready for a social media crisis? – by Andrew Grill
Feeling Wrecked? Think You Might Be Headed For Trouble? Try These Tips
- Listen to what is being said – If you are worried about how things are going for your business, take some time and see what is being said about you. You’ll need to be aware of both good and bad feedback and commentary if you want to effectively manage your reputation and keep your brand’s head above water in this arena. Your goal should be to determine how deep any dissatisfaction goes; is it just a few tweets, or a page on Facebook campaigning against your business? Is it just a small problem, or just the tip of the iceberg? You will also want to stay on top of things even in times of peace and prosperity, not only during a crisis situation!
- Reach out when/where appropriate – Don’t be caught out trying to be overly nice to anyone, but don’t be stingy with your attention and time. Find people who are saying good things about you and respond to them, and then find people who are saying negative things about you, and find out what you can do to help resolve their situation. Regardless of what you do, people are going to talk about you. If you are worried about what people are saying, listen to popular social media outlets and user reviews sites, and reach out from there. Give people a chance to see you in action, working on positive ways.
- Be consistent in information and voice – No matter what stage you are in (calm, unrest, crisis, etc) you need to make sure that your business is putting out a consistent message. In order to do this you may want to limit the number of different people who have access to your social media accounts; fewer people means less of a chance someone might not know what is going on and inadvertently say or do something that makes your business look bad on another network. An ill-timed post on one social network, a blog post scheduled ahead of time, etc. can all be things that throw a wrench in the works of even the best laid plans. Now imagine that these things went wrong during a crisis? Consistency can help calm things down and get back to normal more quickly and with less backlash than inconsistency would.
- Be Honest – Honesty and transparency needs to be at the heart of every message you send. Social media is very powerful and can showcase all sides of your brand…even those you’re not so proud of. Now we don’t want you to go airing all of your dirty laundry thinking that if you don’t do it someone else will, because that’s not true at all. You don’t have to tell-all, but you do need to be honest about things, especially if people ask direct questions. If people discover that you have been trying to cover up or hide bad news about your business you could run into a lot of necessary grief that could have been avoided.
Thanks to Consorte Marketing for the great infographic! — Click on this image for a larger version, or visit the original graphic on their website.
What is one thing you have seen a business do online that could have been prevented using the information from this post?