When someone wants to know more about you or your business, they will look you up online… and guess where they’ll head first?
Yep, that’s right, your social media profiles and your website.
They could also express their opinions – good or bad – about you or your business, with their family, friends, colleagues, peers and the internet in general.
Now while you can’t control what your people are saying about your brand, it is a good idea to know exactly what they are saying. There are precious business insights in those conversations, but also you can’t address any costly reputation management mistakes you don’t know about.
That is perhaps the gravest of all reputation management mistakes, to leave the reputation of your personal or professional brand in the hands of the internet and its users.
And if you aren’t convinced of the importance of your online brand reputation, remember that:
People buy from people they know, like and trust.
In every interaction that a person has with your brand online, you need to be sure that what they find and that what you are doing, contributes to the know, like or trust factor – and even more importantly, doesn’t hinder or lessen them.
So, if people buy from people they know, like and trust and they decide to look your brand up online, what exactly will they find?
Even if you have a website and a couple of social media profiles if you are not actively monitoring your reputation online, do you have any idea of what they are finding?
You can’t leave your brand’s online reputation to chance or the digital masses. You need to know what is being said about or to you and have the ability to respond appropriately.
In this article, you will find the five critical reputation management mistakes and how you can work to overcome them.
5 Brand Reputation Management Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not Investing in a Personal and Professional Brand
You only have 7 seconds to make a good impression.
This is just as true in the digital realm as face-to-face.
With just seconds to make a good impression, you need to make sure you are leaving nothing to chance. Your business depends on it.
An excellent first impression builds interest and trust, whereas a poor first impression with viewers will be forgettable at best or leave a bad taste with them at worst.
To ensure that you make a positive impression with viewers, there are several key things you can and should do, which I will share with you below.
Professional Looking Profile and Cover Images
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
If that is true, then what are your current profile and cover images sharing about you and/or your company with viewers?
When someone sees your profile image, does it convey professionalism?
If not then you should replace those images immediately.
You will also want to use a professional to design and create cover images for each of the social platforms you use. Not only will they be able to create these images at the correct size for the platform (which looks more professional), but they can also ensure that the images include all the elements necessary to convey who you are and what you stand for to your viewers.
Client-Centric Social Media Profiles and Posts
In addition to having a professional profile picture and cover images, you should ensure that the rest of your social media profiles are professional, client-focused and are consistently branded.
LinkedIn requires a little more time and effort, as this B2B platform is built for business and relationship building. You will want to ensure that your profile is complete and includes an effective LinkedIn headline and social proof in the form of LinkedIn recommendations.
Check out this complete step-by-step guide to complete your LinkedIn profile here.
Consistently Branded, Mobile Friendly Website
As with your social media profiles, you want to ensure that your website is consistent with your digital branding. This makes it easier for people to recognize you when they see something you have shared online, and further instill a sense of professionalism that over time builds trust.
It is also vital that your website is mobile friendly.
People have been consistently accessing the internet more from their mobile device rather than from a desktop or laptop computer for the last four years. This increase also includes the number of searches performed from mobile devices. As such, Google is prioritizing the indexing of mobile sites over those that aren’t mobile friendly.
2. Lack of Authenticity
Far too often I see brands investing their time and money in digital marketing and branding that are producing poor results.
While there can be many reasons this can happen, one of the more common errors I see being made is a lack of authenticity.
What exactly do I mean by that?
I mean that you see individuals and brands creating content and publishing social posts that are generic and forgettable, with no personality, opinion or voice.
So, what does it mean to be authentic in the digital sphere?
Quite simply it means that you know and can share who you are, what is important to you, why you do what you do and who you serve in a clear and concise way.
It also means ensuring that everything you create and share consistently stays true to that message using your own unique voice.
The reason that authenticity is so important to your brand reputation management comes back to the fundamental principle that people buy from people that they know, like and trust.
Being authentic helps people to know who you are. You will stand out from the competition and draw your ideal clients to you.
Below you will find some of the key elements to ensure that you are being authentic in your marketing, content creation and social posting.
Know Your WHY Story
The WHY story behind your business is vital to helping viewers relate and connect with you and your business as well as differentiate you from your competitors.
Let me explain.
Every time one of your ideal clients goes online, there will be numerous businesses and brands vying for their attention.
With all that noise and all of the options available, knowing and succinctly sharing your WHY story is what differentiates you. When your ideal clients understand where you are coming from and what motivates you to do what you do, this will also help them to connect with your story, which allows them to begin to know and like you.
Use Your Own Voice
Your voice (or your brand voice) refers to the personality and emotion infused into all of your marketing and interactions online. It includes everything from the words and language you use, to the personality and image your interaction and communications create in the mind of viewers.
This voice is primarily influenced by your or your company’s personality, your WHY story, and the language used by your ideal customers.
This voice should be consistent through the content you create, the messages you send and the posts you share on social platforms as well as any engagement you have on those social platforms.
You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you can’t clearly and quickly communicate that with viewers, you will fail to catch and hold their attention.
Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Today, people want – and expect – personalization.
You can see personalization all over the digital realm. Some of the giants are exceptionally good at this – think Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook – all of which are providing some level of personalized content online.
If you want to be able to compete for the attention of your viewers, you will have a much higher rate of success if you include some level of personalization, wherever the opportunity presents itself.
It can be a colossal reputation management mistake not to invest the time to get to know your viewers, community, and customers first and then personalize your interactions where relevant.
Fail to do this, and you will become faceless and forgettable.
3. Spamming Instead of Marketing (Don’t skip this… you may be doing it and not even realize it!)
Nobody likes a spammer. The scary thing is that most spammers don’t even think they are spamming!
Spamming your viewers, community and customers is probably one of the most serious reputation management mistakes you can make.
Now you might be thinking, but I would never spam anyone.
But you need to remember that what you consider spam and what they consider to be spam might differ.
And it is their opinion that matters in this instance – not yours.
This applies to anything you are sharing online such as private messages, emails, social posts, groups, and comments.
So how do you avoid looking like a spammer, even unintentionally?
It is quite simple. Run it through the “Would I do that face-to-face?” filter.
For example, would you ever go up to someone at a networking event and say “Hi, nice to meet you, do you want my SEO services?”
UGH! Of course, you wouldn’t. So, don’t do it online.
Below you will find several ways to prevent the reputation management mistake of being labeled as a spammer.
Listen More then You Speak
It might seem easier and faster just to create and post things online, but by doing this, you are essentially just broadcasting your marketing message.
And I hate to tell you this… but no one cares about you or your business. They view everything through their WIIFM filter. What’s in it for me is all they are interested in.
Anything your viewers don’t find interest or value from is spam!
Think of it this way, if you were on the phone with a friend and all you ever did was talk and never listen, how likely is it that your friend would want to be on the phone with you. Or more to the point, how likely is it that they would want to be your friend.
The same applies to your interactions online. You need to listen at least as much, if not more than you speak.
Change Your Mindset
One of the best ways to ensure that your content and marketing never feels spammy is to change your mindset from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”
If you move from a place of wanting to help rather than sell, you will naturally be more inclined to listen as well as provide more value in every online interaction.
“What can I sell you?” says:
- I care about your money.
- What else can I sell you?
Whereas, “How can I help you?” says:
- I care about you and your business.
- How else can I add value?
Always Provide Value
The easiest way to avoid looking spammy is always to provide value in all your online interactions and most importantly in the content you create and share.
This means that you need to first listen to what your ideal clients want and need and then create content that will help them.
All content is NOT creating equally. People can tell very quickly if the only purpose of the content is to try and promote your product or service. Creating high-quality content is one of the best ways to enhance your professional reputation.
Some popular content types that can value include:
- How-to style tutorial content (video-based and/or written)
- Live video sessions to answer frequently asked questions
- Free downloadable guides or checklists
- Relevant webinars or podcasts
- Blog content geared towards solving problems
Be sure that your content marketing is professional, is of interest to your ideal clients and preferably solves one of their needs or challenges.
4. Lack of Customer Care
One of the most serious reputation management mistakes a brand can make is to provide inadequate customer care.
Customers pay the bills… your bills. Their satisfaction (or lack thereof) influences your success.
This includes how they feel about your customer care online and offline.
If you fail to ask for feedback, ignore them and their issues or respond to them with a bad attitude, then you will harm any positive feelings they have towards you, and there is a good chance they will then also share these negative feelings with others online – which will further damage your reputation.
Below you will find several key ways you can improve your customer care online, aiding your reputation management as well as your bottom line
Ask for Customer and Community Feedback
Asking for customer (and community) feedback is an excellent way to show people that you care and value their opinions.
People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Doing this makes people feel involved in the influencing and growth of your company and your products or services, which continues to increase the know, like trust factor. When you treat your customers well many of them will become brand advocates, providing you with your most powerful – and affordable form of marketing – word-of-mouth in the form of recommendations and reviews.
As well as increasing customer retention, these positive reviews and recommendations will provide valuable social proof that will draw in new clients and customers.
Respond to Reviews and Follow Up
An essential part of providing excellent customer care is to ensure that you respond to any and all customer feedback promptly.
This is true for both good and bad reviews.
When someone leaves a positive review, thank them for taking time out of their busy day to share their experience. It can be as quick as easy as just a simple “Thank you.”
The occasional bad review can be just as helpful as a good review because you can see what isn’t working in your business. You can then take this information and improve your products, service or customer service and create the best experience possible for your customers.
When you get a negative review, it is important to thank them for taking the time to share their experience and if appropriate, apologize and take the required steps to make amends.
But when a potential customer sees a bad review that has been acknowledged and addressed, this can actually improve their opinion of your brand.
No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. So, when a company steps up and not only acknowledges the issue their customers are having but also works to solve them, this can make them feel more confident that they will also be taken care of if they are not satisfied with their experience.
That being said, you can’t please everyone, nor should you try. In fact, I make it a practice to turn down customers I know will be difficult to deal with.
There will be people who will complain no matter what you do or how hard you try to satisfy them. Thank these people for their time, and then ask them to contact you via email or direct message. This provides them the outlet to air their concerns, without that conversation happening publicly online.
Now there may be instances where someone leaves a review on a platform where you are unable to address their concerns (like an Amazon review). As an author with books on Amazon, I wish that I could thank people for the reviews they leave.
You still want to keep track of these and review them for improvements and changes you should make. If there are one or more common complaints, it can be a good idea to address these concerns in a FAQ page on your website.
5. Not Having a Reputation Management Strategy or Plan
A costly reputation management mistake that is all too commonly made by many businesses is to NOT have a strategy or plan in place to monitor your brand’s reputation online and have a plan in place to deal with any negative situations.
While it might seem like a lot of effort and resources to create and implement a reputation management strategy (particularly as bad situations are not a regular occurrence), it might seem like a better use of your resources to just deal with things as they come up.
But this fly by the seat of your pants approach can ultimately be harmful and a more significant drain on your resources if and when a situation arises.
In fact, this lack of strategy or plan can lead to the issues themselves if you are not replying to online engagement in a timely and positive manner.
Below I will share three vital steps to implement when considering or building your Online Reputation Management Plan.
Monitor Your Digital Presence
As I have mentioned previously, it is vital that you monitor your digital presence.
You want to be a part of any conversation that involves you or your business. It is much easier to put out fires while they are small.
One excellent, free way to monitor any relevant terms, such as your name, your business name or the names of your products or services is to set up Google Alerts. You can also try just Googling those terms and see what comes up.
Another one I like is Brand24 that offers a great brand monitoring software at an affordable price.
Have a Plan
Create a reputation management plan that you can follow to monitor your online presence regularly, and that gives a framework of how to respond and engage appropriately to all posts, comments or reviews that are directed to you, your business or your products or services.
You will want to ensure that this plan includes an outline for how to address the different negative situations your brand can find themselves in. This will ensure that issues are not only dealt with in a timely, productive and positive manner but also that they are addressed consistently and in your brand’s voice, regardless of who is responding to the issue.
Train Your Team
It is critical to train anyone and everyone who will engage online on your or your company’s behalf.
Even with the best brand monitoring software and the most comprehensive brand reputation management strategy, if your gatekeepers and marketing staff are not trained on how to handle negative responses online they can easily make numerous reputation management mistakes and never know it – that is until it is too late.
This is a common issue. Professionals often hire virtual assistants. Companies may hire inexperienced interns or have a high turnover. In these cases, you have people with very little knowledge of the brand, the brand voice, and any current strategy in place.
Even an experienced digital marketer who is not familiarized with your company’s specific plan and voice can make reputation management mistakes that can harm your business.
Avoid Making Costly Reputation Management Mistakes
Your brand reputation far is too crucial to the success and well-being of your business not to take an active part in monitoring and managing it.
By investing in a professional looking brand, creating and sharing authentically, avoiding spammy behaviors, ensuring excellent customer care and having a brand reputation management plan or strategy that is understood and used by you or your representatives, you can avoid making costly reputation management mistakes which can harm your brand image and bottom line.
In fact, by actively working to manage your reputation, you can gain valuable insight, find opportunities to improve your brand’s image and perhaps create brand advocates, who will share their brand love with those in their network.
Did you find these brand reputation management tips helpful? If so, would you please share this your preferred social media site, and with any friends or colleagues that you think should read this too.