The World Wide Web has given rise to many wonderful things, but it’s also causing businesses and entrepreneurs to need to rethink how they manage their reputations. Just about any individual in the world can make a negative comment, whether justified or not, and it can be read by just about anyone else. Here are three tips for how to defend your company’s reputation online.

Engage on Social Media

Many companies are using social media as a way to broadcast marketing promotions, but what customers really want is to be able to engage in two-way communications, according to a survey by Sprout Social.

Results showed that 90 percent of participants who use social media had done so in a way to communicate directly with a brand. What’s more, social tops phone and email as the first place most people turn when they have a negative comment about a product or service.

To effectively use social media for communicating with customers, you first need to build up a following. Interaction begins by grabbing their attention as they scroll through their feeds, suggests Jordan Kasteler, CEO director for Hennessey Consulting, in Marketing Land. Kasteler gives several tips for doing just that. For example, use humor. Make your posts stand out visually with emojis. Pay attention to how your audience uses various social media channels. Let’s say you work for a dog food company, for example. If your audience makes a lot of use of Instagram to view pictures, post some great photos of dogs.

Respond Quickly and Thoroughly

Whether comments are positive or negative, customers want a response. Sprout Social’s research showed that 30 percent of customers who are “shunned” by a brand — meaning that their comment goes unanswered — are more likely to switch to a competitor. On the other hand, researcher and author Jay Baer discovered that responding to a complaint on social media can raise customer advocacy as much as 25 percent.

If your company has made some kind of mistake, the best thing to do is apologize, writes Ken Sterling, executive VP of BigSpeak, in Inc.

However, if someone is merely starting or repeating false rumors online, you need to head those off as quickly as possible by spelling out the truth. Amway, for example, has done just that with an in-depth blog post defending the company against false rumors suggesting that Amway is a pyramid scheme.

What’s more, you need to act quickly in responding to customers. In a poll commissioned back in 2017, Twitter found that 71 percent of its users expect a brand to respond within an hour, 63 percent had gotten a response within an hour, and more than a third had received a response within 30 minutes.

If you’re responding one-on-one on a social media channel, you might include a link to a longer company-written blog post that gives a detailed response to a false rumor.

Use Social Listening Tools

The fact is that people might make comments about your business not just on Twitter and other social media, but other venues on the web, such as blogs, online stores, and restaurant or travel sites. So you need tools that will help you cover as much ground as possible in monitoring what people are talking about online. You might decide to use several tools. Here are a few that you might consider.

  • Sprout Social – provides a unified inbox for reviewing and responding to comments from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, along with powerful analytics and publishing tools.
  • Mention – lets you scour not just social media but any other type of source on the web, including audio and video, for mentions of your company and its competitors—even posts in foreign languages.
  • HootSuite – allows real-time monitoring of hundreds of apps, blogs on WordPress, and social media feeds like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Conclusion

In this digital age, defending your company’s reputation online takes a lot of doing. You have to engage with customers on multiple social media channels, use social listening tools to monitor all kinds of sources on the web, and respond quickly and thoroughly. The results are worth it.

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