Have you ever seen a person, company, or brand with an amazing presence on social media? If you go online regularly, chances are, the answer to this question is, of course, yes.
Brands use their social media accounts to influence the way they're viewed by the public all the time. And there's a reason for that - it works.
When it comes to what your potential customer or client will think of you, how well you manage your online reputation is crucial.
When used properly, it can be a very effective way of protecting and improving your reputation.
How can this be done? If you're looking to use your online presence to become more successful this year, look no further.
Here's a guide on how you can manage your social media reputation. Later we’ll also look at an easy 5 step management plan for brands and businesses.
What do people think of your business?
Before you start to look at what you're trying to achieve, you need to think about how you're using social media at the moment. Essentially, your social media accounts should be an extension of your brand. It should showcase everything you want your customers to love about you.
What are your strengths? Are they coming across to your audience?
If not, it might be time to re-assess your strategies and gain the positive feedback you need to succeed. You could ask your current customer's for feedback; or seek the opinion of friends, family members, or other businesses to see where you might need to make changes.
What do you want to shape your reputation?
Once you've established what your reputation is at the moment, you'll be able to see where you might need to make some changes. Are you getting any negative comments? Which areas are they in, and do they follow a pattern? If yes, then you need to look at addressing these issues.
In terms of how you want to reputation to be in the future, you need to think about what you want to reputation to be.
Do you want to appear knowledgeable? Or do you want to excel in customer service? Or maybe you want to be the market leader? Do you want to increase sales, or simply build awareness?
After you've decided what you want, you can start to think about implementing your new strategies.
Your strategies: What types of content are there? And how can you use them effectively?
If you want to improve your reputation online, first off, you need to make sure you're taking steps to drive engagement. There are a number of ways you can do this. But, you need to make sure that, whichever type of content you're using, it needs to be updated regularly.
There are various platforms, each with their own benefits. For example, depending on the type of product or service you're promoting, you could use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or any other Platform. Different platforms serve different purposes.
If you wanted to promote a physical product, Pinterest or Instagram tends to work best; but for service-based businesses, Twitter tends to be more popular. In terms of which type of media to use, there are plenty of different types.
For instance, do you want to promote yourself using blog posts and articles? Or would videos or podcasts work better for your brand? These are things that you need to consider when setting out your social media strategies.
Implementing your new policies
Putting your new policies in place is the next step towards reaching your goals. But, how can you make them effective?
Remember, that your policies should be promoting the reputation that you want. So, you could start by outlining topics and subjects that would fit your business goals.
Also, your content needs to stand out from the competition - this means you'll get more engagement.
Make sure that your business's social media policies support these goals.
If you have the manpower, you’ll need to decide who is responsible for what and ensure they are sticking to your plan.
Make sure that all the content they are posting is professional, isn't sharing any sensitive or personal information, and that they are all writing about the topics set out.
5-Step Reputation Management Plan with Social Media
Identify What You Are Monitoring
A vital question to ask before you begin is to ask yourself: Do you know what you need to monitor to mend your online reputation?
If you have no idea, that’s fine because many brands don’t know either. They have no clue what to watch out for other than the direct messages sent to them.
However, to build your reputation first you have to know what to track so you can monitor all the signals that are revolving around your brand.
Here are a few things you need to monitor to get started:
- Your company name: Without a doubt, your company name is what defines you.
But perhaps not everyone is intimately familiar with your brand.
For example, if you own an app development studio called Data Front, you would want to monitor keywords such as Delta Front, Data Studios or DataFront Apps.
Make sure you include all the common types of misspellings so nothing falls into the cracks.
- Your company’s products or services: Like your brand name, your products and services will have to be constantly monitored
Going back to the previous example, Data Front’s flagship product is a fitness tracking app called RunTrack.
You’d want to watch out for keywords such as “JogTrack” or “RunTrace” because people may talk about your product on social media, but not your brand.
- High-profile employees: Do you hire anyone that comes across as a high-profile employee? Being the spokesperson of your company, you’ll want to keep tabs on their names on social media as too.
- Popular industry keywords: Keeping tabs on how and what people are talking about within your industry is essential. For example, Data Front would likely want to track industry keywords like agile development, full-stack development, digital wearables or VR.
- Your biggest competitors: Competitor analysis can provide valuable information on how you stack up against your counterparts within your industry. Tracking your competitors’ names lets you know what other people are saying on social media.
Stay Connected to your Social Media Accounts
If you’re wondering you are going to track all those keywords across all the different social media channels, don’t worry.
Fortunately, there are a variety of social media monitoring tools available in the market today, that makes it really easy to track keywords across popular platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook.
These tools, such as SproutSocial and Hootsuite will take all the keywords you’ve chosen to monitor, then consolidate all the relevant monitoring data and put all the messages in a single-stream inbox.
While the majority of these tools don’t come for free, and some are quite expensive, they can be a valuable tool for your business especially if your business isn’t doing so well in reputation.
- Focus Your Efforts on Engagement
To have a meaningful engagement with your customers, you need to start listening to what they say.
Engagement on social media is a two-way street, you need to make sure that you have the finger on the social media pulse to build stronger customer trust and loyalty.
Social media also plays a key role in managing customer care.
Nowadays, as customer hotlines become less popular, most people choose to go onto social media channels to request for customer assistance.
To manage your social media reputation well, you need to respond to every query promptly. Because things move quickly in the digital world, most people expect a response from a business within 4 hours or less.
Don’t Be Afraid to Respond
While It’s easy to say “responding to all queries” when the incoming messages are nice and friendly, what happens when the bulk of the messages are negative?
Today, managing negative responses has become a part of any business’s duty. Consumers just don’t have the tolerance for poor service or products as they did in the past.
That’s why you need to know how to handle and respond to upset customers or even online trolls.
To ensure trust is not lost between you and the customer, always strive to be as transparent as you can when you’re handling complaints and appear as human as you can.
People feel more positive and trust your brand more when they know a real human being is taking responsibility in resolving their issues (instead of a standard copy-paste reply).
Even the negative comments need a response from you. If somebody is sharing online about their poor experience, help them by providing clarity or a resolution to their situation.
Only when you have exhausted all methods of appeasement, and they continue to damage your reputation online, then you should seek to find ways to keep them off your social media page (such as blocking or banning the errant user).
By keeping your head cool and manage negativity in a calm and collected fashion, you can maintain your reputation as a professional brand. Don’t be afraid or run away from angry social messages.
Collect More Positive Social Reviews
By collecting more reviews, you have a powerful way to increase your reputation (especially when you are already in poor standing).
When you know you have done well, you shouldn’t hesitate in asking for positive feedback.
Make it as easy for your customers to submit a good review as possible. Use clickable images, links in blog posts and specific images that have strong CTAs asking for reviews all work well.
Also, you’ll want to monitor and respond to any reviews that are appearing on major sites, such as your Facebook page, or even Amazon UK.
This will help lower the impact that negative reviews will have on your brand, and demonstrate to your audience how you handle customer complaints.
Incorporate links and CTAs in your post-purchase email sequences, asking your satisfied customers to leave a glowing review.
Move the Conversation on to Social Media
There’s a line in a good book that says “Ask, and you shall be given”.
If you don’t ask your customers, you’re not going to get your good reviews from them.
If you find it hard to implement a review collecting system into your email sequence, why not try to connect with your customers on social media instead?
Keep an eye out for positive sentiments and responses on your social media. If you realised they haven't written a good review for you, encourage them to do so.
If they are already singing praises of your product or brand, chances are they will be more than willing to leave a glowing review for you.
Scale Reputation Management to Track ROI
Just like all things in digital marketing, tracking the right metrics using the relevant tools can pay off when you start seeing positive reviews and messages pouring into your social media inbox.
Use your social media management tool to track your sales closed through word-of-mouth marketing and social media referrals.
Then evaluate your customer acquisition costs using these channels, while taking note on how many positive reviews you have.
Once you have implemented your social media monitoring tool of choice, you can track new positive reviews and monitor your progress in a 3 or 6-month window.
Only when you start tracking all these information, you’ll begin to have a higher clarity on how your social media traffic is affecting your revenue.
Experiment on your social media content revolving around managing your brand’s reputation, and see if it’s driving traffic towards your business.
Soon you’ll gather enough information to see how your all your referrals, social media outreach and site traffic translates to more customers and revenue.
Using comparative analysis, you can size up your new reputation management efforts and start experiencing the acquisition costs falling.
When you incorporate SEO strategies together with your social media reputation management strategy, you can gradually rebuild or even improve your brand’s reputation.
But managing and rebuilding a reputation takes a ton of time and effort, and success does not happen overnight.
Don’t wait for bad publicity to happen before you take action. Set up your goals for your social media reputation management strategy today.
While every business or industry is different, you can still experience success with engaged customers, more attention to positive reviews when you properly manage your online reputation.
About Murray Dare
A digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur,
Murray runs his marketing agency Murraydare.co.uk and several online startups.
Murray has helped startups and businesses achieve online success through a considered approach to marketing.