Businesses of every size and across every industry can benefit from online reputation management.
This holds especially true today, when consumers are making purchase decisions based on your online reputation, more so than on your advertising, direct sales messages, pricing, or branded promotional content.
Of course, your online reputation isn’t shaped exclusively by the contents on your website or your own marketing communications. Social media can also make a big impact on reputation. It gives customers the opportunity and the platform to voice their opinion and share their experiences.
This is why businesses should make social media reputation management a part of their strategy.
What is social media reputation management?
Traditionally, social media reputation management is the process of posting strategic social media content, monitoring social media websites and channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), listening to customers who talk about your business or brand, and engaging in these conversations.
The goal? To positively shape the consumer perception of your brand or business.
Today, social media reputation management also covers channels such as online review sites, local business directories, even online yellow pages and business discovery apps: digital spaces where customers have a say about their experience with a business.
If you’re just getting started with how your company manages social media reputation, read on for your keys to success and some important points to consider.
Social media reputation management: keys to success
Resolve issues that could affect reputation
It’s important to not avoid customer feedback posted on social media channels and online review sites. Make sure you get back to your customer. And when you do, avoid cookie-cutter responses that do not resolve or address any specific issues raised in their comments.
Sometimes even positive feedback and five-star ratings may include points of concern that the customer wants to discuss with you. Responses to negative social media comments, meanwhile, should be approached carefully. Be as specific as you can about the customer’s experience and communicate any changes or improvements you have made as a result of their feedback.
Avoid delays in responding. The sooner you can get back to your customer, the greater your chances of improving the situation.
Says best-selling author and customer service expert Chip Bell: “In the customer’s mind the clock starts when he or she posts a negative review, and your reputation drops with every hour you delay providing a response. Be honest, be apologetic, and offer the aggrieved customer an easy way to access you. Bad reviews that remain unanswered signal to other customers you are disinterested. It also fuels the perception that the negative report by an angry customer was probably accurate.”
Post engaging, relevant content
Don’t let your social media pages go stale. Build them up and regularly post relevant content and updates like news, special offers, photos, videos, and links.
Avoid being overly self-promotional, though. Take advantage of user-generated content and see how you can use it to improve your online reputation. Also, be sure to show your willingness to engage with your community of fans and followers by liking, commenting on, and responding to their activity on your profiles.
Use a social listening tool
It can be extremely difficult to track every single conversation about your business happening on every social media channel, especially if you’re managing a business with multiple locations.
Investing in a social listening tool like Hootsuite can save you plenty of time and effort. With it, you can schedule posts, track conversations and mentions, monitor online reviews, and even create customizable streams so that you’re able to effectively listen to the voice of the customer on social media.
Focus on increasing reviews, instead of just likes and followers
We’re not saying you should delete your local business page on Facebook or stop checking people’s follow activity, @mentions, and DMs.
By all means, continue to take control of your social media presence and engage with potential and existing customers. A strong social media strategy can also improve your performance on search engines and give you more control over what’s being said and found about your business online.
Given all that, we encourage you to focus on your online reviews, too, as part of your social media reputation management efforts. Tune in to what customers are saying on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook Recommendations, and Citysearch (among others). And instead of focusing exclusively on increasing your likes, hearts and followers, try attracting more feedback and generating more reviews, too.
- A study by ShareThis and Paley Center for Media shows that a strong positive review can sway a consumer to pay nearly 9 percent more for a product or service. Contrast this with Gallup’s report, where only 5 percent of consumers think that social media exerts a great deal of influence on their purchase decisions. In short, better reviews – not more likes – give you greater influence and pricing flexibility.
- Research by Forrester also reinforces how reviews can trump social media. According to the firm, content found in consumer-written online reviews (46 percent) ranks ahead of posts by companies or brands on social networks like Facebook and Twitter (15 percent) in terms of trustworthiness.
Pay close attention to Google and Facebook
Among the top two sites where customers post online reviews are Google and Facebook.
According to the Online Reviews Survey, Google is also the online review site where consumers are reading the most reviews: 63.6 percent of consumers read online reviews on Google before visiting a business.
While it’s important to focus on as many social media channels as you can, pay special attention to Google and Facebook, two platforms where the largest share of consumers are reading and posting feedback about your business.
Share your best reviews on social media
If you consistently receive five-star ratings and glowing reviews on review websites, don’t hesitate to show them off. Share your best reviews on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles, or even on your company blog.
Remember: the impact of user-generated content is more powerful and effective than loud sales messages or promotional brand content. Sharing positive reviews on social media drowns out negative noise, and it can even make a positive impact on your search visibility.
Transform social media data into insights
Savvy brands are extracting insights from social media comments and customer-generated reviews in order to gain insights on the customer experience.
By tapping into your precious social media data, you can support the objectives of your social media reputation management strategy and make smart business decisions that will earn the trust of potential and existing customers.
For example: you notice that a number of customers keep mentioning “hostess” in their comments and reviews — prompting the question, “Are customers happy with the hostess — or are they unhappy?”
Successful and trusted brands that tap into their data using social media reputation management tools will know the answer to the question immediately. They will have the ability to understand — in seconds and at scale — what customers really mean whenever they share their thoughts in their own words.
With instant insights, your organization can make actionable changes.