Does your business have, or even need, an online reputation management action plan? The overwhelming answer should be an emphatic “Yes!” In older marketing theories, this might have been thought of as something similar to brand management. But in today’s high-tech communications world, reputation management takes on a whole new universal meaning. Every business, from the smallest corner cafe and professional firm, to the largest multi-national corporation, needs to have a solid action plan in place for crafting the way they are perceived by customers and potential customers.
While you might think a reputation management plan is only necessary to respond in times of a crisis or a negative situation, there are steps you can take every day to help craft your own reputation, especially online. You never know when a potential customer will search for a product or service similar to what you have to offer. It’s great if your business comes up high in their search results, but what happens when they look for more information on the type of business you are? Do they search the review sites, ask their social media circle for input, or look to your online presence to get a “feel” for your company? Do you know for a fact that your online presence paints you as a business that is credible and trustworthy? If you’re not really sure about how to answer that question, here are some simple steps to create a solid reputation management action plan for your company:
- What is your message? What do you want potential customers to know about your business? Do you promise outstanding service, superior products, or on-time delivery? Is there a long company history or family tradition involved? Why should people be happy about giving money to your company to receive something in return? If you don’t know what you want to say about your reputation, how will prospects be able to decide whether they like your company or not?
- Review your online presence. Take a look at what your company looks like from an outsider’s perspective and see if it matches your message. Look at your website, your social media pages, your blog content, and pertinent review sites to see how your business is portrayed. If you’re a restaurant and your address is not even listed on Yelp, you might have a problem. If you’re an accounting firm, and you’re not offering advice in your area of specialty, how will clients differentiate your services from any other? If you can’t create a positive impression using outlets you can control, how can you help others create a positive impression for you?
- Build up to be the best. After you’ve got the basics down about your website and social media presence, you need to take the next steps toward being consistent. Being online constantly can be tiring and time-consuming. How many ways are there to talk about what you do? It may feel like it’s the hundredth time you have made a post about your latest business service, but it might just be the first time the perfect potential customer is learning about your company. Have a constant stream of helpful blogs and videos, make social media posts that point out different aspects of your product or service, and make sure your company always looks like it is at the top of its game.
- Get your customers involved: You don’t have to be the only one engaging in a one-sided conversation. Email your customers to ask them to post reviews, put signs in your store to get them to review your service, ask for referrals, or ask interesting questions on your social media pages that invite a response or discussion.
- Monitor and respond: You’ll need to keep an eye on your communication channels in case somebody is trying to tell you something or ask a question. Watch the emails, read your social media feeds, and have a positive response in mind. If somebody takes the time to post a concern, thank them for bringing the matter to your attention and promise to look into it.
- Crisis plan: Part of your ongoing strategy should also be to have a crisis management plan in place. If something does go terribly wrong, you’ll need to take action instead of fumbling around looking for a response. We always hope that negative things will not occur, but it is always best to be prepared.
Since it is getting to be close to the end of another year, take time now to plan out your reputation management action plan for next year. Decide on what you want other people to think about you, and then map out a strategy for how you want to get to that end result. If you are not sure how to proceed, a reputation management company can help you craft the perfect plan.
A reputation management action plan is more than just a crisis response. It means managing your reputation every day.
A good reputation management action plan is not just being ready to respond in times of a public relations crisis. It is making sure that the message and image your company portrays to the public is exactly what you want it to be.
Has your business developed a reputation management action plan that covers crisis and everyday needs? Your social media marketing plan should include a definition of your message, a review of your online presence, a plan for ongoing communications, and a way to get customers involved, as well as a crisis response strategy.
Final Overview: Companies need to think more about reputation management than just brand management. The above information are some solid tips for developing a good reputation management action plan.