If you’re in business long enough, something is bound to happen that will endanger your reputation- deserved or not. The following five tips will help hold those reputation-damaging events at bay for as long as possible (and help you mitigate the damage when and if they come about.)
1. Be on Alert
You have to know the state of your reputation now in order to protect it in the future. If your business is relatively new and unknown, starting to monitor or to put monitoring protocols in place now will get you ahead of the game. You need to know where your business is registered, where customers can and are likely to leave feedback, and have alerts set up for your brand name and any related terms.
If you’ve already started receiving some online mentions, either positive or negative, make a note of them. Even if you don’t have a plan to address them right away, knowing what exists will help you develop strategies to deal with similar events in the future.
Once you are monitoring what already exists, it’s time to look at what could exist in the future. It’s worth it to spend a few hours or the better part of an afternoon signing up for every relatively popular social media site and industry forum under your business name. Then you need to make sure your business is listed, correctly, in as many directories as seem relevant.
Not only will this help prevent cases of mistaken identity in the future, but it could also even prevent the name from being taken maliciously and used to your company’s detriment.
3. Be First, Be Thorough
Where are your customers looking for information? What do they need to know about your business and it’s products or services? Be there first. There will be content published about your brand and mentioning your brand. By posting first and posting often, on a number of channels, it’s a lot easier to direct the conversation.
- Social Media – Maintain an on-brand social media presence. It doesn’t need to be much, and you don’t need to try and be everywhere at once, but if your brand is mentioned, pay attention.
- Guest Posts – Guest posts can be an excellent way to get positive media up on the web that’s not on your homepage. Diversity in search results is a good thing. However, if you choose this strategy, do not neglect the comment section.
- Email Marketing – While email marketing can’t help change a perception that’s already there, it can be a useful preventative. Sending automated messages after purchases, or emails containing additional free resources can help prevent some negative events.
- Forums and Q&A Platforms – Forums and similar websites may be some of the first places your business is mentioned. By registering early and posting occasionally, it will be a lot easier to talk to your customers through these channels than if you start from zero.
Managing the reputation of a growing business is a full-time job. There are dozens of things to keep track of, including employee behavior and customer satisfaction. The bigger your business gets, and the more people are involved, the harder it will be to keep track of how your reputation is faring. Further, criticism can be hard to take, especially if your business is personal. It can be tempting to bury your head in the sand for a while only to come up when a real emergency materializes.
In cases like this, the best thing you can do is get professional help. There are a variety of services you can choose from; some offer monitoring only. Others, like www.reputationdefender.com, offer up a full suite of services- including acting on your company’s behalf to actively improve your reputation and guard against future incidents.
5. Connect with Your Target Audience and Create “Ambassadors”
If you don’t want to hire out, you do have another option worth considering. If you have steadily been building your business’s reputation, the chances are good that you have a few fans. Find those fans and make them “brand ambassadors.” (Even if they’re your employees.)
You don’t need an official program, just reach out. If they’ve already used and reviewed your products favorably, they shouldn’t be opposed to a long-term relationship. It’s a two-way relationship. They get easy access to your brand, products, or services and you get someone who will stick up for your business across multiple platforms.