4 Min Read
A good reputation is a hugely powerful asset for a brand. In fact, your actions and what others say about you can be the difference between the success and failure of your business.
Today we have to think about reputation management now more than ever. Why? Because we’re 140 characters (soon to be 280) away from someone mentioning us in a negative tweet and one bad Google search result away from losing customers (and that’s before we even think about Facebook and Google reviews).
We live in an age where the consumer has a voice and they’re not afraid to share it with the world. This in many ways is a very positive thing when you’ve built relationships with loyal fans, but one wrong step from you as a business can be published on the internet forever for all to see and this can negatively impact your brand.
So how can you avoid the negative aspects of brand reputation? Invest time and effort creating a positive one for your business. Here are 8 ways you can do this.
1. Be Yourself:
I know what you’re thinking “Who else can I be?” You’d be surprised how many businesses create a reputation that doesn’t match how they act in person, in the press or online. This can create a disconnect between a business and its stakeholders.
The word ‘authentic’ is one in my opinion that’s overused, but that’s what your reputation needs to be. It needs to resonate with your in-house team, existing customers and target markets in order to build trust and encourage goodwill. Most importantly of all, it needs to come naturally so you can be yourself. The ‘fake it until you make it’ rule no longer applies because consumers can see through the facade. Think about your brand values and create an outward personality that feels comfortable for you that you can apply across your entire brand. By doing this you’ll attract the right customers and you’ll begin building a good reputation.
2. Think both online and offline:
There seems to be so much focus on building an online presence that sometimes we neglect the more traditional forms of building a reputation, like networking, word of mouth referrals, face-to-face meetings (yes they still happen) and press coverage. Either that or businesses invest completely in the traditional forms of promotion but they don’t have a website or any digital footprint at all.
The key to success is to use a mix of communications that’s right for you. Have an online presence using the channels your target audiences are most active, attend the networking events they’re at and so on.
3. Interact with your audiences:
It’s a well-known fact that consumers buy from brands they trust. That’s why it’s so important that you make the effort to have conversations with them on a regular basis. Social media offers the perfect platforms for you to do this, but so does networking.
Begin and get involved in conversations both online and offline with key industry influencers, existing and potential customers. This will enhance your reputation as an expert in your field and benefit your wider business.
4. Be consistent in your activity:
Consistency is key. You can’t spend a month proactively promoting your business then vanish from the market for a year. If you do that you’ll be forgotten. Create a PR plan that means you’re regularly relaying your key messages through various methods in a way that makes your audiences feel good hearing from you. Avoid the hard sell and share your expertise.
5. Create a good customer experience:
You can have the best product or service in the world, but if your customer service isn’t on point then your reputation and wider business will suffer. From invoicing and Twitter replies to phone conversations and website navigation - your customers should be at the forefront of your mind, making things as easy for them as possible. This combined with attention to detail, good attitude and delivering on what you promise will hugely strengthen their positive experience and benefit both your reputation and your relationships with customers.
6. Leverage social media in the right way:
Social media is a powerful tool for helping a business grow its reputation. Focus on researching which platform is best for you to use and really invest time and effort in growing your audience using that. If Facebook is the most commonly used platform for your target market then become the best in your field on Facebook. Don’t be tempted to waste your time on platforms that aren’t going to be of value to your business.
7. Share good quality content:
Ever heard the saying content is king? Well, these days it’s the entire kingdom. Once you know what social media platforms you’re going to use you need to create content that engages your audience. This will continue to prove that you're an expert and it will build trust in you and your brand. Remember your audience needs to find your content useful, entertaining and informative in order for them to react to it.
8. Monitor your mentions regularly:
Ever heard of social listening? It’s when you monitor digital conversations to understand what people are saying about your brand. This is something you’re not really able to do in traditional forms of promotion, other than via press coverage and is something I’d encourage you to do regularly. By doing this you can react to any potentially negative comments in a positive way and leverage any opportunities.
Implementing my advice will take time and effort, but if it’s done correctly you’ll have better control over your reputation and you’ll be perceived in a positive light. In the words of Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently”
Kathryn Dishman-Baird is the Founder of KD Communications and a PR expert. If you'd like to ask any questions about the information above, or you'd like more advice on a PR strategy for your business, click the button below and get in touch.