On April 8th, Rolling Stone released the cover of their next issue, which featured a naked Julia Louis-Dreyfus, with the Constitution of the United States tattooed down her back. Given that she’s currently experiencing success with her TV show Veep, it was an interesting way to represent the political aspect of her show. There was only one problem with the execution of this idea…
…John Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution, he signed the Declaration of Independence. Rather a basic snafu that led to headlines such as:
The Rolling Stone twitter account hasn’t addressed this issue, however, Louis-Dreyfus has taken it and run with it. Being a Comedian, the former Seinfeld star decided to address the issue through her medium – comedy. Her initial tweet after the mistake was pointed out was to blame the mistake on one of the other characters on her show
These responses from Louis-Dreyfus have definitely taken the sting out of the criticism, and it’s now pretty much a non-story. What can you take out of this? Well, primarily, if you make a mistake, it’s a good idea to own up to it. Don’t try and defend something that you know is wrong, because you’re just going to dig yourself deeper and deeper into a hole. Acknowledge that you’re human and you made a mistake. You should play to your strengths with your mea culpa, humor may not be the best option for your situation, but as long as you know your audience, you can tailor your response appropriately, and minimize the damage to your reputation.
You’re aware that social media has become a very powerful tool for Internet marketing, right? It is also very useful in managing the online reputation of your brand and business. When you realize that maintaining a good business blog can effectively help you manage your online reputation better, you’ll be sure to grab the first opportunity to get your blog in place.
It is common knowledge that a brand’s reputation can be built or destroyed by the feedback people post about it anywhere on the Internet. In the same way, you can effectively enhance your online reputation management with a well-maintained business blog. You can hire a blogging expert to maintain your blog for your or maintain the blog on your own. What’s important is for you to make sure the blog serves the purpose for which you put it up in the first place.
Why a Blog is Important for Online Reputation Management
There’s good reason why a blog is deemed to be among the best tools for you to use in building a solid online reputation. Basically, a blog is a reflection of your thoughts and personality. It therefore gives readers the opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your brand. It tells them who you are, what you hope to achieve, and what you have to offer, among other things. In most cases, a blog also gives consumers a chance to express their thoughts about your products and services as well as your business in general. The opportunity to freely voice out their opinions is something most people appreciate.
Just like practically anything else in this world, maintaining a blog comes with its own set of risks. When you give people free rein in commenting on your blog, the comments section can work not only to your advantage, but also to your detriment. No matter how well your blog is written and how relevant and useful your posts are, there are bound to be people with negative things to say. The smallest cause for dissatisfaction with your products and/or services can be made to look very bad online, and the ability of negative feedback to go viral very quickly doesn’t help at all. You need to realize as well that the more popular your blog becomes, the more vulnerable you are to negative feedback. That’s because there are more people reading your blog, therefore increasing the chance of your posts offending someone’s sensibilities.
Dealing with Negative Feedback
There are generally three ways for you to deal with negative feedback on your business blog. You’ll have to decide which of these three approaches is the most appropriate in each instance when you’re faced with negative feedback.
Sometimes people complain just for the sake of complaining. This is when they just say something bad about you or your brand without really backing their complaint with any substantial information. For example, someone could say, “You’re an idiot!” and that’s it. No reason as to why he thinks you’re an idiot and what you said or did that warranted that reaction. In this case, most of your readers will probably ignore the comment and it may be best for you to do so as well. Responding will only bring attention to the comment and may even depict you as being too sensitive.
Of course, there are also instances when the negative comment is actually valid or can be very damaging to your reputation if left unaddressed. If someone disagrees with something you said and gives strong arguments against it, respond promptly in a calm manner, acknowledging your difference in opinion. If you’re convinced that you’re right, stand by your opinion without offending the commenter. However, if you realize you were indeed wrong, admit it and thank the commenter for correcting you. This will show your readers that you value their opinions, which is a very good way of using negative comments to your advantage.
Responding properly to valid negative comments on your blog can help you turn those comments into something good for your online reputation.
Sometimes the negative comments have something to do with product complaints. In this case, strive to get the issue resolved as quickly as you can. Always remember that addressing valid complaints is an activity that may be time-consuming, but will never be a waste of time.
Some negative comments are intentionally malicious. These may come from competitors or from people known in the Internet world as trolls. If the comment doesn’t serve any purpose at all, you have the option to remove it. It may even be wise to block the commenter from accessing the comments section of your blog.
Using Your Business Blog to Your Advantage
So you know that negative comments are to be expected and you have an idea on how to deal with them, but how exactly can you use your business blog to build or enhance your online reputation? Here are some tips:
1. Separate Your Blog from Your Official Website
You may have noticed some websites with a designated web page for their blog. This may come with a number of advantages. We would advise you, however, to set up your blog not as a web page on your business website, but as either a sub-domain or a completely different website. One huge advantage of this strategy in terms of online reputation is that the blog will have a separate rank from your website in SERPs.
If both your website and blog rank well, your chances of being deemed an authority in your niche is significantly increased. If one of these sites suffers in SERP rankings, you can use the other site to improve both rankings. Of course, even if your blog is set up as a separate website, you should still link it to your business website in some way. After all, the primary purpose of the blog is to help you grow your business. It is best to choose a domain for your blog that’s similar or at least related to your website. The blog itself should reflect your brand’s personality and deliver your brand message.
2. Schedule Your Posts
One of the most important considerations in maintaining a good blog is the number of posts you make within a given period of time. If you let too much time pass from one post to the next, your readers are likely to lose interest after their first few visits. On the other hand, posting too often could result in information overload, which may turn-off many readers as well. You need to find the perfect balance in scheduling your posts. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by creating an editorial calendar, which contains the topics you plan to discuss in your blog and the specific dates of posting for each topic.
In general, it is advisable to publish one or two blog posts each week. Having an editorial calendar help you ensure that you’re neither posting too seldom nor too often. It also helps keep you in tune with your brand message and prevents you from writing about the same topic with the same approach more than once. Remember that while people appreciate getting regular updates from your blog, they are likely to lose interest if you keep covering the same topics and you don’t even bother to write from a different perspective.
3. Ensure Content Quality
The content itself is, of course, a very important consideration when you’re managing your reputation online through a blog. You’ll know your blog post is of high quality if:
– It is targeted to a specific audience.
– It is well-written.
– It is original.
– It is relevant to the needs of the targeted audience.
– It is highly informative.
– It effectively engages the target audience.
– It contains fresh and up-to-date information.
If your blog posts are always of high quality, there’s a good chance your blog readers will share it with others, thus helping you promote your blog for free. When your blog’s popularity increases, your SERP rankings will likely increase as well. This, in turn, could lead to significant growth for your business.
4. Get to Know Your Audience
As mentioned earlier, negative feedback can hurt your reputation, so it’s important to avoid it as much as you can. One effective way of doing this is to get to know your audience really well. If you have a good grasp of their sensibilities and their interests, you’ll be better able to tailor your blog posts accordingly. This doesn’t mean you should refrain from publishing thought-provoking posts on your blog, only that you should make sure your posts are well-suited to your audience’s tastes.
Connecting with your audience and getting to know them well helps ensure that the blog posts you publish are well-suited to their tastes.
It is also advisable for you to respond to comments on your blog posts, especially if those comments are well-crafted and thought-provoking. Be sure to take the time to carefully read the comment and understand the intent behind it so you can respond accordingly. Not only does this help you in getting to know your audience, but it also sends the message that you regularly monitor your blog and are genuinely interested in your readers’ opinions. When you make people feel important, they will likely develop a high regard for you.
5. Be Careful with Keywords
I mentioned earlier that your blog posts should always be in tune with your brand message. This means they need to revolve around a general theme of sorts. Keywords can be very useful tools for delivering your brand message through your blog posts. It may be a good idea to include a keyword or two within each post. Other than connecting your post to your brand message, the keywords can also increase your post’s relevance where search engines are concerned.
Remember, though, that the keywords shouldn’t be the main focus of your blog post. You should also refrain from stuffing one post with too many keywords (again, one or two will suffice). Keywords should only be used when they are closely related to the topic you’re discussing and in a manner that won’t be deemed awkward by your readers.
6. Filter Comments
Needless to say, you need to keep your blog comments well under control to make sure none of them cause irreparable damage to your reputation. It has been said earlier that you need to remove malicious comments as well as complaints made just for the sake of complaining. You need to be very careful in removing blog comments, though. Refrain from doing so simply because they put your business in a bad light, as that may give your readers the impression that you’re overly sensitive.
Remember that negative comments can still help you build a good reputation if you handle them well. Just make sure you remove only those comments that malign you without basis and the ones that have no substance at all.
Each new blog post should reference at least one of your web pages. This could be an older blog post with related content, one of your social networking pages, a related article on your official website, or even a different blog where your business is mentioned in a positive light. This increases the likelihood of your blog readers finding out more about your business when they check out your various online accounts as well as websites that talk about your brand.
If you’re truly lucky, this strategy may even convince readers to visit your official website and start patronizing not just your blog, but your products/services as well. The more people learn about you, the greater your popularity will likely be. The more popular you become, the easier it will be to manage your online reputation, as you will now have more people who can defend you against those malicious naysayers.
You should never make the mistake of underestimating the power of a business blog. This is especially true when you’re looking for effective ways of giving your online reputation management strategy a boost. A blog can effectively enhance your reputation, both in terms of getting better SERP rankings and earning the appreciation and loyalty of your target market. Maintaining a blog may come with a number of pitfalls, but if you learn how to properly meet each challenge that comes your way, this can be the best way for you to earn and keep a solid reputation.
Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides effective SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com
Sure, it’s fine to hire a reputable firm to help manage your outreach, but take it from one who knows, you have to be VERY careful about who you choose.
As the campaign makes its way down the food chain, the person who’s delivering it may not even know what your aims are.
An innocent snafu could end up damaging your reputation with search engines, prospective customers, and stakeholders. And nobody wants to look sketchy.
2. Letting Employees Do What They Want
Even if you avoid the outsourcing issue and keep your social and content outreach in-house, you’re still at risk.
You can’t assume that your employees are born with the knowledge of how to represent your business. Employees who have grown up using social media to share inane jokes with their friends need some guidelines.
Put a social media policy in place. This should review topics that employees can and can’t mention, as well as tone, brand voice, and style. Whatever you do, don’t be a jerk. Make sure that your team has a hand in crafting these policies.
We all know that people rely on online reviews as part of making purchasing and subscription decisions online. And sometimes it’s tempting to help things along by hiring people to “review” your products.
After all, who doesn’t want some positive reviews? This is one tactic you should definitely avoid, as if you’re found out, it will hurt your reputation – both online and off.
Depending on your business, you might even have to pay big fines and suffer the negative publicity that comes with it. A better option is to encourage your satisfied customers to leave real reviews – that will enhance your reputation and quickly turn things around.
4. Being Absent
Your social media accounts are a small fraction of your marketing equation. You need to make sure that you’re actively engaging with customers and prospects.
Start by filling out your profile fully – it’s your online business card, and many people will make a decision on whether to even look at what you have to offer based on it. Then consider using a tool like HootSuite so you can have an in-house team (including those at the top) contributing to social updates.
Avoid the temptation to use too much automation – that turns people off and harms your reputation. Be yourself and operate within the guidelines you have set. You’ll gain a reputation for being responsive.
Here’s a story I heard recently. A company had a Facebook page, and a disgruntled customer used this channel to broadcast his anger. The company wasn’t sure how to respond. Chaos ensued with comments gone completely wrong.
Behind the scenes, there were a heck of a lot of panicked emails. Here are the steps that the team ultimately decided to follow:
Respond calmly to the person.
Encourage them to take their grievance offline.
Post new content so that the complaint gradually moved out of sight.
The situation was eventually resolved, but it could have been disastrous. The lesson is that your outreach policy also has to include guidance on handling complaints.
Handle criticism badly, and you look like a bully beating up on the small guy. Handle them well and you can get positive feedback from a formerly disgruntled customer.
6. Promoting the Wrong Thing at the Wrong Time
Another way to damage your reputation is to make a mistake with the content you share – and its timing. Check out the mistakes made by some big names in this Cracked article – see how sparse market research resulted in a negative backlash?
As mentioned in a recent Trackur post on Facebook etiquette, carrying on with your outreach plan during a time of tragedy is a no-no. This is a surefire way to get people
Aim to share positive content related to your niche to enhance your reputation – and be sure to get the timing right.
7. A One Way Street
As Holon Publishing says, the best way to thrive is to create a tribe – and if your outreach is all about you, you’ll never get there.
Encourage feedback, and let the people behind your brand shine through. Customers will soon become loyal to your brand. When that happens naturally, then those brand advocates will promote you, making your outreach even more successful.
The bottom line is that the actions you take can have a direct impact on your online reputation. Avoid these 7 mistakes to keep things on track – and don’t forget to monitor your reputation regularly to see how your customers view you online.
About Chris Kilbourn
Chris Kilbourn is the CEO and lead growth strategist at TOFU Marketing. In past lives, he was a professional rockstar (seriously), and he built and scaled 3 successful companies from the ground up.
One of the key tenets of social media is that you need to engage with your audience. A brand should do their best to appeal to the reasons why their followers followed them in the first place, encourage them to tell their story, so that others can interact and engage, thereby enhancing the sense of community. Knowing this, Pepto-Bismol decided to ask their 5k followers a simple question…
The most awkward places to experience, diarrhea? Go.
Erm… yeah, you didn’t misread it, that was the question they decided to engage their users with. Has it worked? Well, as you can see it’s generated a nice number of retweets and favorites, and has received a lot of comments in response. However, the responses tend to fall into one of 3 categories:
Moral outrage at the question
At your new job after you got fired from Pepto-Bismol. RT @Pepto: The most awkward places to experience, diarrhea? Go.
Was this the type of engagement that Pepto-Bismol was looking for? Given the rest of the content of their twitter feed, they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they run the risk of alienating followers by asking for stories about bowel issues that some may deem offensive or taboo.
What do you think? Does this harm their reputation or endear them to you?
About Simon Heseltine
Simon Heseltine is currently the Director of Audience Development for AOL Inc.
A negative review on Yelp can be devastating for your business if it is the first or second result that people see on Google. This happened to one of our clients, a Houston, TX law firm. The law firm was losing business fast, in spite of a “US News Best Lawyers” profile sitting at position #9 in the SERPs.
Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to remove a review on Yelp, even if you can prove that the review is fake or malicious. They generally only remove the reviews if you can prove they violated the terms of service. That’s very difficult to do.
Fortunately, most people don’t go straight to Yelp, or any other third party review site, to find out about a business. They go to Google. And if they don’t see the negative result on Google then it’s virtually non-existent.
Purchasing Alternative Domain Names
Our client had an abbreviated domain name for their primary website. This created an opportunity. Fortunately, a domain name which spelled out the entire law firm name was still available.
We purchased the domain name and put up a second website, one with unique content. This outranked the Yelp result for the law firm’s name in just 4 days.
[highlight color=”yellow”]Takeaway:[/highlight]Purchase your own domain so that you can control it. Look for variations and purchase those, too.
Targeting Company Databases
The next step was to look for relevant, high-quality company databases where our clients were not already listed. Creating listings here didn’t require any particular “hype,” backlink manipulation or tricks. These sites already ranked naturally in Google.
Instead, these sites only required us to make a fair and descriptive entry for our client’s business. Since these directories rank well it was no surprise to find the Crunch Base listing in the #4 position within two weeks. The Yelp review was still visible by then, but it had fallen to position #9, where many people were already missing it.
[highlight color=”yellow”]Takeaway:[/highlight] If you can legitimately place your company in a popular directory, do so. Many of them will not expose your company to problematic reviews, and they rank rather well.
Launching Social Media Accounts
Our client had a Facebook page but they weren’t taking advantage of all of the social networks. We added them to Twitter, as well, and their Twitter profile became one of the results that pushed Yelp right off the first page. In 30 days the Yelp review was all but invisible.
[highlight color=”yellow”]Takeaway:[/highlight]Having a social media presence isn’t just about what you tweet or re-tweet, though of course you want to be mindful of how your interaction with these sites makes you look. It’s also important because it gives you a SERPs listing that ranks well and that you exercise at least some control over.
The Bottom Line: You’re not helpless in the face of Yelp or any other third-party review site. Don’t waste a lot of time fighting with these sites or worrying about them. Worry about controlling your own SERPs, instead.
Carmen Rane Hudson is a writer for www.InternetReputation.com who specializes in writing about online reputation management, SEO, local SEO, social media, sales, and marketing.