Five tips for online reputation management

In the internet age, brand reputation can be both a powerful tool and an irrevocable disaster. Carefully managing it is the best way to avoid the latter

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A brand’s reputation is important for a number of reasons, including the fact it can have a significant impact on company finances. According to a report by Towergate Insurance, corporate reputation is estimated to be worth four to five percent of a business’ yearly sales, and 65 percent of senior executives report that a brand’s reputation is tied to its online sociability.

1) Blogging and social media
Blogging and being up to date with all forms of social media not only provides a company with a platform to promote itself but also guarantees communication with consumers. Social media platforms – mainly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn – should be updated at least on a daily basis, to drive traffic and followers. It is down to company discretion as to which social media platforms are necessary; LinkedIn is geared more towards networking among professionals, whereas sites such as Facebook are used more for consumer interaction.

2) Employees monitoring online reputation
Monitoring views and social media interaction is essential when it comes to upholding online reputation. One negative review or comment could spiral into hundreds very quickly, so its wise to have a designated person to take care of all complaints. Having an employee constantly monitoring online reputation also gives the company an idea of how well it’s doing among consumers, encouraging transparency and vigilance. This employee would need to be knowledgeable about disclosure requirements, and understand the nature of information that should be posted on company websites/social media.

3) An active PR strategy
It makes sense to prepare ahead of possible online complaints, and constructing a PR strategy could result in positive marketing, in turn overcoming any negative comments online. Working closely with investor relations, marketing teams and partnership companies – collectively agreeing on which team will use certain company websites/social media platforms – ensures online monitoring is structured and organised. It is also worth working alongside those who are knowledgeable about legal disclosure requirements and encouraging them to have a role in providing solutions to any legal problems that may arise.

4) Maintaining positive search name results
Online reviews and ratings can make or break a business, and search engines highlight both the positive and negative aspects of an online brand. Within the retail sector, search engines are becoming increasingly influential over consumers’ shopping habits, with more shoppers now using them to research products before making a purchase. 44 percent of online shopping now begins with a search engine. It’s therefore important that search engine results showcase the brand positively. The best way to monitor search engine reputation is via Google alerts and brand mentions on social media.

5) Maintaining executives’ personal reputations
The profile of managers, CEOs and executives can have a huge influence on a company’s online reputation. Board and senior management teams should act as role models for an entire company, and should emphasise a culture of compliance among employees. Executives should ensure personal profiles comply with the highest level of privacy, and do not disclose any personal information or photographs that could jeopardise the company’s reputation. Moreover, management should always be encouraging employees to act responsibility and with integrity online, to avoid any negative comments that could relate to the company and its reputation.