Tips to Balance the Risks in Brand Reputation
The wonderful thing about social media is that it enables brands to reinforce their values to new and existing clients. There’s also enormous value in leveraging it to build and maintain relationships with your audiences. It not only builds trust and loyalty for your brand over time, but your customers can eventually become your brand advocates and promote your products for you –any brand’s ultimate dream. Online conversations also reveal insights about your customer’s experiences with your brand. This forces brands to be more honest and transparent as it’s the actual consumers sparking online discussions about their products or services.
The user-generated content created by your customers could either be negative, neutral or positive and it’s just something you can’t control. However, what you can control is the way you formulate your response, address comments and facilitate conversations that might spiral out of control. Whether you do this successfully or not depends on whether you have an online reputation management strategy in place. Brands who are good at this become more admired and trusted.
On the other hand, brands who don’t know how to address the sporadic nature of online conversations should probably not be having them in the first place. Online sentiments shift and change all the time and a successful brand will know how to manage their online reputation by communicating with purpose and intention during such changes. It’s good to be transparent, opening up to criticism and feedback has proven beneficial for companies that embrace this new form of communication with their audience.
Here are two examples of companies who did the exact opposite – lashing out at their audience or ignoring the issue entirely.
Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro (Restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona)
This restaurant featured in an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. The owners were kicked off the show by Ramsey after being too difficult to work with. The restaurant has a Facebook Page, and once viewers started posting negative comments on their page, the owners Samy and Amy Bouzaglo took matters into their own hands and started fighting fire with fire against a one-star internet review.
Their responses were written in an emotional and defensive manner showing an unprofessional and careless approach. Their insults against the reviewer were eventually picked up by the local news, creating more negative publicity.
To view the full conversation on Facebook, click here
Big Korn Bites
South Africa’s favourite corn chip snack, Big Korn Bites went through a rough patch in the social media space last year. Unanimously, consumers started complaining about the lack of flavour and poor seasoning. The brand had to endure some pretty sinister comments that made their way onto Twitter. This platform allowed consumers to voice their dissatisfaction with a trending hashtag #verybeegscam which spread like wildfire. It seems that Willards chips completely underestimated the voice of the consumer enabled by a powerful social platform like Twitter.
To view the full stream of tweets, click here
How to Avoid This?
It‘s clear that consumers know how to leverage social media for voicing their unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Their complaints need to be properly addressed and unless your company has serious problems, it doesn’t pose a serious threat to your business. So here are 8 tips for reputation management to help you manage your online reputation.
1. Earn Respect
Respect and credibility go hand-in-hand. Earning the trust and respect of your customers is the most valuable goal to aspire to in the social media game.
2. Be Fully Transparent
Being sincere and honest demonstrates integrity and good intention and is often rewarded in a world where the consumer holds so much power.
3. Monitor What They Are Saying About You
Social media monitoring can bring success. It is common practice for people to ask questions on Twitter and Facebook because ultimately they are trying to decide whether or not to purchase from you.
4. React Quickly and Politely
It is best to acknowledge a customer complaint quickly and respond in a polite manner. This is much better than a late reply with more information.
5. Treat the First Page of Google as your Business Card
First impressions last. If negative wording appears to be associated with your brand, then this should be a concern.
6. Understand Your Detractors
Criticism is an opportunity for you to glean insights about your audience and craft a better message in the future.
7. Learn From Your Mistakes
Don’t repeat the same mistakes. Learn from them the first time. Be self-reflexive about your brand’s social media so you know what to avoid in the future.
8. Ask For Help if Necessary
If your online reputation management efforts are not doing enough to protect or restore your brand, then perhaps it’s time to find brand reputation specialists who can do this for you.