With tons of information all over the Internet, it’s easy for a competing company or an unhappy person to ruin your firm’s pristine image, so do everything you can to protect and manage your reputation.
Putting your firm on social media isn’t something you can just do then ignore. It’s an interactive process that requires time and effort to manage. Monitoring and responding to comments, especially negative ones, is vitally important. According to an article by Bob Tripathi, called “4 Powerful Strategies for Managing your Online Reputation,” the four most important pieces to reputation management are to monitor, listen, respond and amplify.
Monitor. The first piece, of course, is to monitor your firm’s brand. Find out what your competitors and clients are saying about you. Use tools such as Google Alerts and Analytics, SocialMention and SEOMoz to track conversations and keywords relating to your firm. If you don’t monitor you won’t know what’s being said and how to improve and respond.
Listen. Listen to what is being said about your firm across all mediums. Categorize and prioritize conversations about your firm so you can manage them appropriately. Most companies break down conversations into two sections, those that need “immediate attention” and those that require “active listening.” Immediate attention is just that, something that needs to be addressed now. These are the past clients and competition that are talking poorly of your firm. You must decide how to address the situation or conversation before it blows up into something worse. The active listening bracket is full of clients and others that are casually talking about your firm. You want track these too, and respond as needed, to be actively involved in the conversation.
Respond. Respond and act on most negative conversations about your firm – The reason I say “most” is that trolls should be ignored. Normally all these people want is a fight, but you don’t have to be the person or firm that gives them one. This is a perfect example of good public relations. I recommend you create a policy and system for how to respond to nay-sayers. Few have one, so this will put your firm ahead of the competition and allow you to respond much quicker. Analyze what went wrong in these negative situations and make adjustments so it doesn’t happen again. Don’t give in to the temptation to respond harshly to these people, but offer a sympathetic response and offer to correct anything that you possibly can. In most cases, these carefully worded answers will show others following you that you are responsive and care about your customers. That’s a strong message.
Amplify. Once you have responded to the unhappy client, make sure you tell the world. Make sure you turn the negative situation into a positive, rewarding one. People like to see how you treat your clients and customers, and often decide on which firms to use through reviews and referrals. Do all you can to keep everyone happy, and they will reward you with good reviews in the end.
Interesting side note: In a recent study I read, customers who had encountered a negative experience with a company, but had a positive recovery experience were more loyal – by far – than those that had always had positive experiences within the same company. This doesn’t mean you should go out and start failing clients, but it does demonstrate the power of responding to a negative experience in a positive way. It’s well worth the effort from a reputation point of view, as well as a client loyalty perspective.