Online Reputation Management: The good, bad and ugly

Online Reputation Management: The good, bad and ugly

Written by Malope Mashifane on February 25th, 2016

Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”

In today’s fast paced world of social media, monitoring and managing your organisations online reputation is paramount. The Oxford Dictionary’s defines reputation as follows:

  1. The beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.
  2. A widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic.

When it comes to reputation you reap what you sow, what you do as brand and what you say you will do stems from the reputation seed. Reputation management is about managing your brands image. It’s about staying true to your promise.

The Good

If you have a good reputation that gives a good impression on your potential and current consumers, clients and stakeholders. It gives a good overall image about brand and people trust the company.

Your employees are key, company’s reputation sadly also lies on the employees. Senior managers rate highly in company reputation, they can make or break your online reputation. But that doesn’t mean the other employees aren’t as important in representing your brand. It still means by employing someone, you acknowledge that they are your brand ambassador and whatever they do or say reflects on the brand.


The Bad & The Ugly

We have seen this countless times, especially on social media, where an employee takes their frustrations out on social media not realising that it will reflect on the company’s image. And in some cases it is something the employees do, that doesn’t reflect well on the brand’s image. Like the case of Penny Sparrow’s rant on social media. That turned the whole of South Africa upside down.
Jawitz screengrab
So how do you prevent a blow to your online reputation.

Some of the things you need to look at as a brand. These points will help you prevent or manage your reputation.

  • Keep your promise. Do what you say you will.
  • Be consistent. Continuously provide what you promised because that builds trust in your brand.
  • It would help to monitor the organisation’s name, trademarks, key personnel, sector issues and key competitors / partners.
  • Use consumers’ feedback as a way to improve your service or product, for example use frequent surveys to see if you’re satisfied or use a rating system so that consumer can give you feedback.
  • Monitor and respond quickly to queries or complaints. Solve consumers’ problems as quickly as possible before it drags out to become an even bigger issue.
  • Nurture growth and development in your company and in your people.
  • Go further that what you promised. Do more than what the consumer asked for and they will be happy enough to share it with more of their friends.
  • Deliver helpful services or products worth recommending by your customers

Four important points to consider when it comes to managing your reputation

These are the guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to the company’s reputation. Whether you’re in a mess or still in the safe zone. You need to keep managing, planning and preventing future complications, finding ways to respond to the crisis and then afterwards checking whether the issue has been resolved or not.

  1. Manage issues
  2. Plan and prevent
  3. Crisis response
  4. Post-crisis response

1. Issues management

  • Assign resources to online issues management. Consider whether an external agency or service can be of help.
  • Make a list of possible issues and risks faced by your organisation and prioritise which issues should be dealt with or prevented first, depending on their effect
  • Use effective tools to monitor your online presence.
  • Look at the online influencers by using Google searches (web, blog, news) and Twitter search to identify key influencers (journalists, bloggers, forum hosts, activists) around issues.
  • Start a blog on your website to showcase your brand culture and to engage with your audience openly.
  • Make it clear to your employees that what they say or do affects you company. When it comes to customer service, customers will not mention the person they dealt with but the company name. They will say, “Company X is terrible with customer service”. Your employees need to keep that in mind when dealing with customers because first impressions count.
  • Also make it clear that what they say or do on social media may be in contravention of their employer’s values and that may affect their image.

2. Plan and Prevent

  • Put together 24/7 quick crisis response team to assign responsibilities and help with overall internal and external communication.
  • In the team, know who will respond to what and on which platform. Split the responsibilities.
  • Have a written, hidden crisis blog on your website in case of emergency.
  • Look at in-house skills to develop graphic, video, and audio files that could be quickly distributed online to help deal with the crisis
  • Test the plan at least once a year. So in case of a real reputation emergency the process becomes easier.

3. Crisis response

  • Alert the senior members of the organisations and put together the crisis response team.
  • Go public as soon as possible with a blog, video or twitter.
  • Update your staff about the situation and how they should handle it individually or as a team.
  • Reach out to the online contacts and influencers by calling or texting them about the crisis blog you have published.

4. Post Crisis response

  • Continue monitoring your online presence.
  • Don’t forget to thank the people who have helped or supported you throughout the process.
  • Update the company’s content on all social media platforms and website.
  • Review what happened and how the organisation acted on the matter so that you could improve for next time.
  • Pay a lot of your attention to your reputation.

Reputation like anything else in life is worked on. You build it from the ground up. You build it from your actions and interactions with people. Every now and then there will be some negativity driven towards your brand and you need to protect it. Sort out the issue and solve it before it gets out of hand. Companies have their ups and downs and there’s always a way to rise above it all.

Source: Reputation Management & Social Media Presentation by Dr Paul Marsden, a Social Psychologist & Social Media Strategy

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