In this post I will define some components of our online reputation management strategy for business.
At Mobilize Mail our reputation management experience has been honed though our ownership of PropertyTalk.com – the most active property investors online discussion forum in Australasia. Online social networking is similar to face to face discussions, where there are personality clashes and in our online forums where 30,000+ visitors come every month we too experience heated discussions fueled mostly by ego and money. It is true too reputations can be made and lost very quickly online and we have developed strategies to overcome negative sentiment that can damage your brand.
But firstly as I said in my previous post about Reputation Management
– Its not just about SEO. In fact if your strategy is to try and flood the search results on the first page with your content or use “black hat” methods to get zombie sites controlling the rankings then you are in fact only providing a temporary measure that overtime will result in more damage to your brand.
Let me explain.
Trying to control the first page search rankings with quick and dirty guerrilla SEO tactics is like a coiled spring. You have to keep paying people a lot of money to keep the spring coiled as much as possible. You take your hand off the spring and BANG! the negative posts came straight back up. That is of course if Google does not cotton-on to what you are doing and removes your ability to control the search results (called “de-indexing”). Then you’re really stuffed.
A successful reputation management strategy starts with getting answers to the following questions:
1) Why is there negative sentiment about me or my business?
2) If the negative sentiment is real then what do I need to change in my business to remove the issues that causes this negativity?
3) How can I start to repair (not remove, ignore, attack or hide) the negative posts and comments online?
Ultimately if the negative sentiment is not created and fueled by your competitors; then there may be a genuine problem with your product, service or your business and if so you want to learn of it first – before your competitors do.
For example – do you provide an environment where your customers can discuss issues with your business or communicate with other customers without feeling threatened? If not then its logical that customers who do have unresolved concerns will go to environments that allow open and free communication such as online discussion forums. When a customer starts communicating in these channels you have lost control and your business is on the back foot now needing to respond in the public arena.
Providing good customer service is a pre-requisite however it alone does not always temper disgruntled customers. This is why customers seek out online community forums where they get “honest” answers.
Another cause of upset customers is that the business is not transparent enough – nowadays your post-sale support may need to embrace social networks, blogs and online forums to negate negative sentiment. And the setting up of professional social networking channels for reputation management is primarily our core solution.
In our experience businesses who implement a ‘positive’ information channel win the game of overcoming overcoming negative sentiment. It does wonders for organic search results and improves your referral sales pipeline.