Reputation management is all about knowing where you want to go. You cannot be vague about this. Rather, you have to have a strategic goal in place that outlines exactly what you want to achieve. Online reputation management is not about simply having a better public image, it is about defining what that means and how you will get there. This must also start understanding where any attacks are coming from (unhappy customers, the competition, disgruntled ex-employees, and so on). Try, on a strategic level, to determine what your goals are. Then, divide those into order of priority. This will also enable you to perform a better audit.
Is a Reputation Audit Necessary?
It is absolutely necessary! Without an audit, you don’t know where you are. You need to rerun these audits regularly to determine whether your actions have created change. An audit helps you to measure:
- The average review rating of your brand.
- How many positive Google results show up about you in a search.
- How many Likes you have collected on Facebook, or Follows on Twitter.
- How many complaints you receive over a set period of time.
- What your Klout score is.
An audit provides you with data, and data can be used to create strategies and goals. Make sure that you have a set timeline in which you perform actions, audit, adjust actions, and repeat. Your reputation has to be a strategic goal.
At the end of each audit, you should be quite clear about the type and size of the problem, while at the same time knowing what you want to achieve. You then have to engage in damage control, and this must start with asking yourself whether it is possible to remove negative reviews? It is technically possible to simply take them off if they are posted on a site that you own, such as Facebook, YouTube, or a blog. This is a quick and easy way to boost your reputation, but not an honest one. Furthermore, people will find out and are then more likely to take their complaints elsewhere. Once that happens, you have lost control.
It is a much better idea to turn a negative into a positive, instead of simply taking things off. By addressing the issue that your customer raises head on, in a respectful, polite, professional, and prompt manner, you have the opportunity to show everybody else that you care, and that complaints help you to improve your service. The exception is if you have been targeted by a troll or the review is downright libelous. In those cases, you can absolutely remove the comments in its entirety.
Managing a reputation is a complex job, and one that should be seen as a full-time position. It requires specialist knowledge about your business, its policies, procedures, and strategies, and of its products and services. At the same time, it requires specialized knowledge about online reputation management techniques. This is why you should work with specialists to achieve this.