By Janet Udogu
A good reputation is one of the most valuable assets an organisation can have. It creates a bond of loyalty that runs deep between an organisation and its publics. A good reputation does not just happen- it takes time, effort and commitment to build. It takes going the extra mile to show that your clients can actually count on you. A good reputation can be sustained for a long time if properly managed, but it could also wane if wrongly managed.
How do you manage reputation? Reputation management is not about promotion or advertising. It is about striving to attain certain standards which engrave or create a positive impression of your organisation in the minds of the public. This entails identifying what people say or feel about your business and taking the right steps to ensure that they are in line with your set goals and do not run contrary to what you project your organisation to be seen as.
Managing your company’s reputation both online and offline can never be overemphasized. In fact, it is key, as the publics’ perception of your reputation determines to a very large extent how successful your business will be.
In a fast-paced environment where companies are constantly innovating, increasingly growing, and competing with each other, it becomes imperative to your business’ success that you stay informed by practicing smart and effective online reputation management. So something as easy as having an online presence and working hard to maintain it, is of utmost importance.
If a business does not invest in developing its online presence and reputation proactively, it may more than likely pay considerable costs later in terms of revenue loss.
The Media Perspective Nigerian Media Advertising Guide, 2017/2018 states that the top on the list of activities performed online by Nigerians on weekly basis remains visiting social media. The Guide also records that active social media users increased by about 3 million to 18 million users from 2015 to 2017 which was significantly powered by increased mobile connection.
According to research by the Nielson consulting group, an industrial relations, human resource and resourcing solution providing firm, 53 percent of adults follow particular brands online and 60 percent of users of social networking sites write reviews of products and services.
The above figures explain why a lot of people and organisations have resorted to the use various social media platforms and carefully crafted search queries to monitor their reputation. Needless to mention that social media analytics and similar tools could help to deliver a snapshot of current public opinion on any business.
THE PROCESS OF REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
Every company, both big and small, needs reputation management. Knowing how to create a great product and being able to do all the things necessary to successfully manage and run a small business does not translate to being an effective communicator in the internet space or having a good online reputation.
Moreover, with so many forums, review sites, news sites and social media sites out there, it can be tough to keep up with what consumers are saying about your company, so the need for capable reputation managers.
How do you manage your company’s reputation? Check out tips below:
BUILD AN ONLINE PRESENCE
A good number of businesses think that by keeping a low profile, they stay out of reputation crisis. Thus, they avoid any form of publicity including social media, out of a desire for privacy. The fact is that with zero assets built around your organisation‘s name, your organisation becomes easy target for some reputation damage the moment any drive-by defamer decides to take you on.
Create a presence on relevant web properties: Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts, at minimum. Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr may be needed for visually-oriented products. YouTube is also important for sharing videos. It is also very important that executives and employees integrate with LinkedIn.
BUILD AUDIENCE ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
It is important to create social media accounts but it is more important to build audience on your social media accounts. As you keep developing your social media accounts, those accounts will begin to interact with clients and consequently, increase your influence and engagement scores.
PAY ATTENTION TO FEEDBACKS
Remember that “the customer is always right”. So, always pay attention to your customers’ feedback, good or bad. When responding to complaints or bad reviews, seriously consider that there may be some weaknesses in your process that need to be addressed. Therefore, if you get frequent negative feedbacks about a specific thing, don’t waste time, go ahead and address the feedbacks. Be flexible and strategic in your approach. Consider that you could be driving existing or potential customers into the arms of your competitors.
PROTECT THE IMAGE OF YOUR BUSINESS EXECUTIVES
It is good to develop a strong social media presence for your executives, but it is particularly important to protect their images because they form part of your business.
DEVELOP CONTENTS FOR YOUR BRANDS AND PRODUCTS
Go beyond your company’s name and develop online contents and social profiles for your products too. You can also create websites, web pages, social media profiles and so on, This would engrave your products’brand name in the minds of your customers and prospective customers.
OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKE AND APOLOGIZE GENUINELY
If your company does anything adjudged to be wrong, do not argue or try to explain it out, own up to it, and make a genuine apology to those who have been affected by the action. Accepting responsibility for your mistakes and apologising sincerely for it can cushion any form of tension, save the situation and even bring an end to the crisis situation.
KNOW WHEN TO PRESS THE IGNORE BUTTON
It is very easy to get sucked into the vortex of heated online argument but try as much as possible to avoid such even if you are by all means seemingly impeccable.
It is better to lose an argument and keep your customer and your good name. If you must talk about it, take the conversation offline.
Blogs help in promoting a company through Thought Leadership. For instance, a customer can always refer to a thought-provoking content shared on a company’s blog.
INVEST IN YOUR COMPANY’S REPUTATION
Reputation development requires investment in time and money.
Social media and proactive reputation management is a cannot-do-without. If you do not have experience in interacting with online communities, doing it yourself may not be a good idea as you may not be able to handle the issues that may arise in the long run. Hire reputation managers today.