I just delivered a Presentation on  Online Reputation Management at the Social Media and Marketing Conference in Cape Town hosted by Ayihlome Training Projects in Cape Town.

Here’s the presentation on Slideshare:

I have prepared this post for the delegates who attended today as further information and for anyone interested in Online Reputation Management for Business.

What is an Online Reputation?

In a nutshell, your online reputation is public opinion on the internet about you, your company, your staff, your products or services.

And it matters.

The Value of Your Online Reputation

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.”  Warren Buffet

How the public perceives you as an organisation is critical to your success. Having a positive reputation will drive quality business.

Word of mouth marketing is still the most effective form of marketing around.  Online it’s called Social Proof.

On the other hand, negative Press can have disastrous effects, especially if left unmanaged.

Awareness and Impact

Are you aware of your online reputation and the impact it is having on your business?

The first step to taking charge is to find out what people are saying about you or you or your organisation.

“Treat Your Google Page 1 as your Business Card’ – Neil Patel

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation

  1. Google your name or your company name in Incognito or Stealth Mode.
  2. Set up Google Alerts here:  https://www.google.com/alerts  You will receive an email every time your organisation is mentioned online.  Read more about setting up Google Alerts here.
  3. Google the name of your company and the word review to see what online reviews come up.
  4. Go to https://www.hellopeter.com/ and type in your company name.
  5. You’ll also find Employee Reviews on Indeed.co.za  e.g. https://www.indeed.co.za/cmp/Armscor/reviews
  6. Try a free brand monitoring tool like Talkwalker’s Free Social Media Search 
  7. Talkwalker Alerts also offers an alternative to Google Alerts.
  8. You can find negative reviews found on 40 different sites at Go Fish Digital’s Complaint Search
  9. There are a number of paid tools to find Reviews online as well, such as The Brand Grader, Social Mention, and Reputology. Find them at Influencer Marketing Hub.
  10. Alternatively, you can employ the services of an Online Reputation Management company. Find them at Top SEOs.

Once you have an idea of what the public is saying about you, it’s time to take charge.

It’s crucial that you respond to both negative and positive reviews if you want to create a good impression online and win the favour of the public.

What's your reputation as a company? Here's a handy guide on how to monitor your online reputation and respond to positive and negative reviews online.  Enjoy!  #OnlineReputationManagementGuideHow to Respond to Positive Reviews

1. Thank Your Customer for taking the time to write the review.

2. Mention your business name so the review shows up in Search Results.

3. Throw in some marketing, highlight a special or special attribute of your business.

4. Invite your customer to come back for more.

5. Offer something exclusive to loyal Customers, if you can. Even if it’s just signing up for your free newsletter or joining your group of VIP’s, i.e. raving fans.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

1. RESPOND.  Replying shows that the business is not just sweeping this problem under the carpet and is taking corrective measures. But don’t respond too quickly.  If you’re emotional about the criticism you won’t be able to respond in a positive, helpful way. You also need some time to gather facts and come up with a plan to rectify the situation.

2. Apologise and sympathise with the customer’s situation.

3. Say Thank You or I appreciate your feedback.

4. Explain why your service is great and how you’re going to remedy the situation or improve the service.

5. Provide the customer with someone offline who can help them with their complaint.

5. Keep it short and sweet.  Respond in a positive way.  3 Sentences should be enough.

6. Make sure you don’t mention your business name.

7. Take feedback to heart and make improvements.

Try please people but remember you can’t please everyone, eventually, you will get a negative review.

Prevention is better than Cure

Online Reputation Management isn’t only about handling negative reviews. It’s about fostering goodwill and building trust.

Here are some ways you can develop great relationships with your customers and build a good reputation.

  1. Deliver on Your Promise.  Never overpromise and under-deliver.  If you make unrealistic claims you’re bound to disappoint consumers.
  2. Meet your Deadlines.
  3. Ask Customers for Positive Reviews and Testimonials.  Social Proof Your Website.
  4. Be Proactive. Learn from your mistakes – respond to negative feedback by making improvements.
  5. Ask for help if necessary. Employ the services of a good PR company or Online Reputation Management Company.

Understanding the link between online and offline

Is there a difference between online and offline reputation management?

Unless you are serving a market that has no access to the internet whatsoever, I think not.

These days, going public with a complaint, or with positive feedback for that matter, generally means going online.

Should a complaint about your organisation be so big to make it onto the News, it’s going to hit the online world just as hard.  For every print magazine, newspaper or TV channel, there are literally dozens of online publications sharing the same news.

The Bottom Line:

Get your Online Reputation Management right and your general reputation in the market place will improve too.

Get it wrong and you’ll be in trouble as a whole, staff morale will be low and revenue will be down.

Exploring the Blurry Line between Personal and Professional in Your Online Environment

If you’re in a leadership position in your company and you display the organisation publically in your profile, be very careful what you say online about your organisation.

Everything you do online, on any social media platform, is public.

5 Tips to Help You Maintain Professionalism

Tip 1: Don’t Go Public with Negativity

If you’ve had a bad day at the office, you’ve dealt with difficult customers or overbearing Managers, talk it over with your spouse or your friends.

Whatever you do, don’t discuss with your colleagues. Office gossip is dangerous.

Follow the basic rule of Business Management:

  • Negative goes up – speak to your Superiors if you are having any challenges at work.
  • Positive goes down – build the company up while you’re building your team

And definitely, don’t Tweet about your bad day or mention it on Facebook on your way home from work. Tomorrow will be better but once your emotions have subsided will post will still be there.

Tip 2: Politics is Personal

Don’t air your political views on social media.  Don’t share office politics on social media either.

Tip 3: Clean Up Your Personal Profile

Look back on your social media posts and if you find negative or political comments, delete them.  Clean up your profile.

Tip 4:  Separate Private and Professional Where Possible

Don’t send personal emails from your business email address.  Set up a Gmail address for all personal correspondence.

Tip 5: Be Positive

Share posts that inspire and uplift.  Build a personal online reputation that creates a good reflection on yourself and your organisation. Become an Ambassador.

Make Yourself Proud.

Be the Light in the Darkness.

Over to You

How do you think the public perceives your Organisation?

How quickly does your organisation respond to public criticism?  

Are you using any tools or employing any companies to help you with Online Reputation Management? 

I welcome your views in the comments below.