As you work, over time, to continually improve your customer and brand experience, you must proactively consider your brand’s reputation in the eyes of both the B2C, B2B, and channel partner customers who you serve. This becomes even more important if you are expanding into new markets or geographies.
The relationship with your brand resides in the hearts and minds of the customers you service. Your reputation is also “owned” by your customers, and the reviews, comments, and conversations that occur about your brand are the true public perception of the brand itself.
Reputation Management is simply the practice, tools, tactics, methodology, and process of being in control of your own reputation and improving how your brand is perceived in the B2C and B2B marketplace.
Social media monitoring and community management are a component of reputation management and not a synonym. Monitoring and responding on Social Review sites like Yelp and Home Advisor.com, as well as your owned media assets – your website, blog, and internal communication portals, are additional needs. Finally, industry influencers and competitors should be monitored with respect to both positive and negative comments, reviews, and opinions about your brand.
Customers will search out new brands, products, and services in different ways, based on demographics. Your brand’s stars, ratings, and reviews on Yelp may be important to one demographic group. The presence of “advertising” or sponsored reviews may be perceived negatively by some groups – those groups who rely heavily on WOM (Word of Mouth). Other demographic groups may perform deep desktop research including a search of BBB database information for complaints or disputes with your company.
My recommendation is to plan for and move from a social media monitoring strategy to a full reputation management strategy. Consider investing in monitoring tools that will automate and report on market sentiment and buzz without the need for deep human resources or capital. Consider an outside agency to set up the framework and integrate this with your content calendar management and integrate this activity with your marketing automation and CRM platforms.
Generally, a CMO would oversee the Reputation, Brand PR, and Social Media strategic efforts. Within the current organization model and the integration of both sales and marketing strategies, for B2B and B2C, and the demands placed on this role, an outside agency, reporting up through CMO, may be the best solution.
Questions to Ask – What to Probe On – The Key Elements of A Reputation Management Strategy
Do we have a content and brand reputation management strategy that both mitigates current damaging reviews, ratings, and comments, and lays the foundation for ongoing brand reputation management?
Do we have a plan to create and support ongoing content that helps the team in addressing current negative comments on SERP and social media sites, while proactively managing the brand reputation going forward?
Do we have a formal content and marketing calendar?
Have we, or can we identify and engage with a PR / Reputation Mgt / Social Media / Content agency or agencies to do the heavy lifting?
Do we have a specific track for managing the Human Resources need around reputation management for recruiting?
Do we have a plan to modify the budget to reflect the activity and cost for RM?
Have we engaged the internal teams to monitor social media, manage communities, and monitor sentiment, and have we given them the tools to effectively and efficiently do this?
Secure short- and long-lead editorial coverage in national and regional consumer outlets with a focus on the following areas:
- Consumer technology
- National or Regional or Local broadcast
- Blogs in key verticals
- General consumer/lifestyle
- Key regional broadcast, dailies, and websites
- Host media and influencer events to introduce the brand and its services while also cultivating relationships with key editorial gatekeepers
- Create sponsored content for targeted outlets to elevate your brand among outlets widely read by consumer targets
- Develop a Thought Leadership program to regularly insert the brand and its key stakeholders into the industries and/or service areas you compete in
- Put in place an online reputation management plan that leverages social media to positively shape consumer perception and reputation of your brand, and empowers your sales team.
- Implement a content development and publishing strategy that educates the broader market or community and positions the company as a thought leader.
- Social Reputation Assessment with:
- Situational Review of:
- Current State
- For the following Channels:
- Company Blog
- Internal Communication
- Social Review Sites (Yelp / Angie’s List / Google Local etc.)
- Situational Review of:
- Improve the metadata construct i.e. tagging and search engine optimization of company-published materials, such as white papers and positive customer testimonials in order to push down negative content.
- Publish original, positive landing pages, splash pages, websites and social media profiles, with the objective of outperforming negative results in a SERP.
- Submitting online press releases to authoritative websites in order to promote brand presence and suppress negative content.
- Publishing / submitting blog content to authoritative bloggers to promote brand presence, build positive links and suppress negative content.
- Getting mentions of the business or individual in third-party sites that rank highly in Google.
- Proactively offering incentives to prominent reviewers.
- Proactively responding to public criticism through social media, press releases, and other communication channels.