12 Most Potent Ways to Manage Your Global Reputation
The internet has been called a “nowhere-to-hide world”. It’s never been easier to get the word out about your company, services or blog. But it’s also harder than ever to monitor who’s saying what about you.
Many graduates have learned the hard way that embarrassing photos or careless Facebook posts can come back to haunt them when looking for a job. And businesses from Main Street stores to multinationals can find their reputations hit by negative reviews, videos or social media comments.
FedEx’s reputation took a tumble last year after a YouTube video of a delivery man throwing a computer monitor got more than 7 million hits. And the American Red Cross was left red-faced after an intern sent a misjudged tweet from its account.
Online or offline, your reputation is one of your greatest assets. But it’s even tougher to monitor your brand name in a global economy — especially if you don’t understand the language. Here are a few tips to help:
1. Use free tools
Tools such as Google Alerts are a simple way of monitoring each time your brand name or other key words appear in search results. You can set the frequency of email alerts, and monitor mentions across a growing number of languages.
2. Track multiple search engines
Google might be the biggest player worldwide, but this isn’t true in every market. If you’re doing business in China, checking Baidu is a must, while Russians prefer Yandex. Most search engines have similar tools to provide regular alerts. Alternatively, monitorThis or Keotag can track your keywords across multiple search engines.
3. Don’t forget blogs and forums
Customers are increasingly using web forums or personal blogs to voice their opinions on good or bad service. It might seem impossible to track them all, but tools such as Boardtracker and Boardreader can help. Technorati is a good ways to check blogs.
4. Make the most of social media
Twitter and Facebook are becoming vital parts of most marketing strategies. But research by Maritz and Evolve24 found a surprising 70 per cent of companies simply ignored negative tweets. They’re meant to be interactive, so always respond to customers as quickly as possible.
5. Explore other social networks
As with search engines, different networks are popular in different countries. Japanese users love to chat on Mixi, Russians prefer VKontakte and Brazilians are addicted to Google’s Orkut. It’s essential to monitor these if you have a presence in these countries.
6. Deal with negative comments straight away
Companies such as FedEx and Volkswagen made a bad situation worse by not reacting quickly to criticism. It’s tempting to wait and hope bad publicity will just go away. It won’t. Get your reputation back on the right track by responding straight away – and apologizing if necessary.
7. Make it easy to contact you
Ideally, a customer will contact you directly about poor service, rather than make a YouTube video about it. Many customers only resort to social media if they feel the company isn’t listening. Make sure your email address or web contact form are easy to find. This is particularly important for overseas customers, who won’t want to make an international phone call.
8. Take discussions offline
If you find critical comments or tweets, ask for a personal email address to respond to. Try to avoid dealing with a disgruntled customer in the public eye.
9. Use free translation tools to understand comments
Free tools such as Google Translate are useful for understanding the gist of comments in other languages. But it’s best to have your responses written or checked by native speakers, to ensure they’re word perfect.
10. Turn a blunder into a positive opportunity
Everyone makes mistakes. Responding promptly and taking responsibility will help repair the damage — and show people you care. The American Red Cross managed to limit its Twitter embarrassment with a quick apology, and even poked fun at its own blooper. The mistake turned intoan unexpected PR boostfor the non-profit.
11. Encourage feedback, good or bad
Don’t be afraid to ask customers what they think. More and more people search for and trust online reviews. Glowing reviews are great publicity, while you’ll want to reply to poor ones.
12. Correct factual errors
Sometimes online comments are malicious, crazy or just plain wrong. Respond in a calm, professional way, and set the record straight. Never be tempted to be rude to customers. If a website contains misleading comments, ask for these to be removed.
It might seem a lot of work, but taking a proactive approach is the best way to ensure people are talking about your brand for the right reasons. Of course, this is just a start. Do let us know your favourite tips or tools for managing your online reputation. Have you ever managed to turn a crisis into an opportunity by thinking on your feet?
Featured image courtesy of VinothChandar licensed via Creative Commons.