Do you know that someone tweeted about your company’s latest product and said that it was “a piece of junk that didn’t even work properly” or did you know that there has recently been a Facebook group solely dedicated to the “bad service” of your brand? I didn’t think so. As we know, there can sometimes be individuals who have one bad experience with a product or a service and feel that the only way that they will be heard is by relating their bad experience on a social networking site. And before you know it, that person’s tweet has been retweeted again and again or that Facebook discussion board has 150 posts all agreeing with the claim. Whether your company did indeed provide a less than perfect service or sell a product that did not meet the brands standards or if this particular grumpy customer is your ex girlfriend out to liquidate your company, it does not matter. Online reputation management or ORM is needed for every company that cares about the perception and social appearance of their brand. 2010 is an important year for reputation management and as the number of disgruntled customers rise, so should your ability to control what could potentially be a business disaster.
Even ten years ago, if a customer was disappointed by a company’s bad service or products, a stern letter would be written and most of the time, a nice little package filled with the company’s goodies would be sent back. Now, with social networking sites, complaining just got that much easier. And now with real time results, complaining just got quicker. One complaint can have a ripple effect on a brand and this effect can spread faster than any pool of water. It begins with one person tweeting that X’s product broke on the first day of use. Others retweet this tweet because they too found that they experienced the same problem with that particular product. Others reply and retweet and so the complaint grows. Eventually, others want to know what the problem with this product is and so they search for it online. Soon, enough people are searching for this product and what do you know – when they Google “X” the SERP’s reveal a steady stream of complaints before the brand itself. Complaints equal a bad reputation and a bad reputation equals no sales. No sales, no business.
There are various ways in which you can personally manage your brand and make sure that your online reputation reflects what you would like to bring to the business table. Firstly, you have to take interest in your brand. That’s right, get involved. If there are people talking about your services or products, follow that conversation. Word of mouth is still as strong as ever and even though these days we seem to prefer to email a person sitting right next to us rather than lean over and say hi, word of mouth is still dominant, especially when it comes to complaints. Another important step is to interact with your customers, without communication within a business, what else is there?
No matter what the nature of the company is, there will always be one individual or a group of people who will give negative feedback about a brand. People complain – it’s in our nature. What a company needs to do is take it all in their stride and be able to deal with the damage in an intelligent way. Putting a personal spin on a brand is always a good place to start and you will gain some human trust. No matter what you do, don’t forget about personalised search. If you tend to click on that bad review just a few times, every time you search for that particular brand, that bad reviews will sneak its way to the top of the SERPS. So keep that positive marketing going and makes sure that you grab any bad reviews on the day someone posts them up. This way, hopefully the negative will fade into the background.