There are millions of new bits of information added to the Internet every hour, and if you’re a business who has, or is seeking, a positive online presence, you want to keep your online image as impeccable possible. Though it’s a good start to exemplify and promote great customer relations and solid, honest business practices within your company, it only takes one spiteful former employee or unhappy customer to cause damage to your image.
If you practice standard online marketing best practices you can mitigate, or eliminate altogether, such damaging elements as gossip, bad reviews, negative campaigns and embarrassing news stories. Here are some tips on doing online damage control if you encounter such negative elements regarding your company, its products or employees.
1. Monitor your mentions. A good data manager is a diligent and proactive one. There are programs and services to help businesses monitor how they’re faring online. They can comb social media, review sites and blogs, looking for any mentions of a company, product or service, and find negative mentions and reviews. If any are found, the manner in which they’re addressed is what can make or break a company’s reputation. Depending on the circumstances and response, the public can be very forgiving if a corporate entity addresses a situation head on, with honesty, dignity and integrity.
2. Keep a cool head and keep things in context. There are always going to be people or enterprises out there who want to cause trouble. Don’t over-react to negative mentions. Look at the context and the source of the information before you decide if and how to act. As an example, you can make use of Webmaster Tools to disavow bad links that point to your site if you deem it necessary.
3. Pick your battles carefully. This is also known as “Please don’t feed the trolls.” in web vernacular. As mentioned above, there are people on the Internet whose intent it is to inflame, misinform or just cause trouble. Some of this is unintentional, such as when someone repeats unsubstantiated hearsay, and some is meant to get a negative reaction. There are several ways to deal with this issue.
If the person is simply misinformed, one can refute the claim and offer a simple rebuttal. If there is substance to the claim, it’s wise to react in a dignified, business-like manner and offer a simple reply. If the negative commentator is a troll, it’s best to bury the troll by ignoring the comment altogether or offering another, more positive post. Negative comments that receive a lot of responses will be bumped up and remain at the top of the comments, those that are ignored will disappear on their own. If the comments appear on your own blog, website or social media profile, they can always be deleted and the perpetrator blocked.
4. Address relevant issues immediately. If a review or negative mention has some validity to it, it’s best to address it as soon as possible and offer a means of satisfying the complaint, simply and publicly. The reviewer and the public will respect you for it more.
The more of an online presence you have, the harder it is to manage every aspect of it. Even a small, up-and-coming business needs a full-time social media and customer relations expert to monitor their reputation and public persona. To find out more about companies that can help you with controlling your online image, give the Reputation.com Linkedin review a browse. This is an example of a company that has the connections and tools to view all of a business’ online mentions and other data to help ensure that the public at large sees them in their best light. Such companies provide businesses with an invaluable service that goes deeper than mere PR.