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The internet has made the task of managing a brand reputation much more complex. Each and every company has an image to build, protect and preserve. News can spread these days within seconds — both good and bad. The internet has also set a new standard in terms of business to consumer relationships. In fact, 88 percent of shoppers incorporate online reviews into their purchasing decisions.
Managing an online reputation is by no means an easy job. Fernando Azevedo, CEO of YBus, has built his career on finding effective ways for brands to craft a positive online presence. Here are three key pieces of advice he has for businesses looking to get their name out there.
Related: How to Protect Your Online Reputation in 2017
1. Use digital channels to establish presence.
Marketing and public relations is a completely different ballgame than it was 10-20 years ago. Now, there are a plethora of ways brands can shape their image across the web. However, one of the realities businesses must come to terms with is that it is a 24/7 task.
In terms of getting a startup off the ground, one must utilize current digital strategies to establish credibility out of the gate. “First off, one of the most effective strategies we know is SEO,” Azevedo said. “This, however, requires a great deal of persistence and close attention to quality. SEO is a quintessential example of quality over quantity. Second is press releases. For these to gain traction, your work must be remarkable in order to call media attention. Third, and most importantly, keeping up on social media involvement is vital to the success of any brand’s online reputation these days.”
Azevedo continued: “To be impactful, businesses need to keep a very close eye on analytics. Without a firm grasp, you won’t be able to gauge how brand content is resonating. Be sure you are frequently monitoring website metrics like traffic, time on page, CTR and bounce rate. For social media, keeping up on your content’s likes, shares and follower fluctuation will help give you an idea of how your messages are faring.”
2. Look for common threads in success stories.
A lot of approaches to reputation management do not start with immediate action. They start with a keen observation. With this in mind, it is always a great idea to keep up on the leading brands in the industry. There are many tools available like Brandwatch or Mention that will show who the biggest names are and how well their content is performing. Once you’ve pinpointed the right figures, take a deep look at what is working well for them and how you can apply a similar concept to your own strategy.
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“There are a number of things brands with stellar online reputations have in common,” Azevedo said. “One, they all care deeply for their clients. Two, they have strong ethical principles of which are apparent at first glance. Three, quality is always on their mind and they are genuinely working to create a better world. Those are the companies that last the longest.”
Jetblue is one the best examples of how to manage an online reputation. They are no stranger to interacting with people via social media. In fact, they use it as a primary vehicle for customer service. They consistently go the extra mile to address questions and concerns. In turn, they are able to showcase their support prowess in a social arena visible to everyone.
3. Commit to consistency.
In the fast-paced environment that the internet has become, consistency is the key to maintaining a reputation. The harsh truth is, with the current level of online transparency, it is almost impossible to completely avoid a public mistake. This can range anywhere from a negative review to a widespread scandal.
One of the worst things a brand can do is remain silent when a crisis arises. For example, back in 2015, Target had a collaboration sale with fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer. The popularity of the sale caused the items to sell out within hours. Target’s website crashed as a result. This left a huge number of angry online shoppers out of luck. Instead of jumping into action, Target remained silent. They didn’t begin addressing customers until a couple of days after the fact. While this mistake wasn’t necessarily detrimental, it slightly altered the brand’s reputation in terms of customer care.
When public accidents occur, it’s crucial to keep the wheel of information moving. In time, the bad news will bury itself under the constant flow of online content.
“The best approach is to keep a solid online presence. We see people who decide to close their social accounts once some bad news breaks. Then, the bad news is all that’s left. For companies, the best way is to apologize if something got out of hand, and ask the client for a second chance. For example, offer the customer another service and redeem the mistake. If a company is really doing something wrong and having recurring negativity, it’s best to rethink the values,” Azevedo said.
Related: Does Your Reputation Need Rehab?
Azevedo firmly believes the widespread golden rule “Content is King” is imperative to digital PR and reputation management. Shaping an image relies on the ability to produce positive material that attracts interested eyes. Ultimately, a company should be committed at the core to making the world a better place. When this is apparent, in time, a good reputation will follow.