Now more than ever, businesses must pay close attention to their online profiles. How a brand is perceived online is a company’s virtual calling card and when something is amiss, it can make or break the business.
Nike is a great example of an international company that is keenly aware of its online reputation and works hard to maintain it. Social media messages had been getting lost in the shuffle of promoting company news, pushing out content, and other activities. Nike solved the problem by dedicating a Twitter account specifically to handling complaints and customer service.
Knowing how your brand is being discussed online is key to growing your business, overcoming obstacles, determining stakeholders’ needs, and tweaking products or services so that customers are best served. With so many businesses having pivoted to an online focus as a result of the pandemic, a company’s hard-won reputation on the web is more important than ever.
When the CEO of Whole Foods shared his thoughts on Obamacare a few years ago, his stance angered many customers. The CEO quickly addressed the issue in a prepared statement and then invited customers to share their thoughts. The move quelled a brewing controversy and engendered goodwill among droves of Whole Foods customers.
Reputation protection is necessary to ensure that your business moves forward in 2021 in the most positive way possible. When someone searches for your brand online, it’s imperative that the story being told is a positive one.
Here are 5 ways you can safeguard your company’s online reputation to protect revenues and your reputation:
1. Audit your online profile for negative content.
Negative search results can spur potential customers to look elsewhere, so it is important to know what is being always said about your company. Social media and online reputation repair experts can find ways to suppress negative information or create positive content to ensure that unfavorable content is not the first thing customers read.
Pay attention to what others are saying about your brand online by using Talkwalker or Google Alerts. Monitor comments and respond to any negative criticism carefully by avoiding strident language and presenting yourself as interested in resolving and addressing any concerns. If you don’t stand up for your company, then no one else will either.
Ignoring negative content can make a situation worse. A good rule of thumb: if you made a mistake, own up to it and find a way to make it right. Then get back to work and make sure it does not happen again.
2. Think before you share on social media.
Be careful about commenting carelessly on hot button topics if you want to avoid becoming a victim of “cancel culture.” Cancel culture describes the growing trend of “canceling” a business, person, or brand because of views or actions that draw the ire of critics. This phenomenon can be incredibly damaging and have far-reaching effects that can tarnish a business’s reputation long-term and result in loss of income.
When online mobs try to destroy your company’s hard-won reputation, lock down your messaging, be prepared to respond, and make sure your answers are cohesive and consistent across all platforms. Most cancel culture attacks can spiral out of control with lightning speed, so consider enlisting the help of professionals if you find your business or brand under siege.
3. Act quickly when an online issue begins to surge out of control.
Safeguard your online business reputation. Most social media meltdowns are triggered because people post in the heat of the moment without considering potential consequences.
Businesses and brands must be mindful of their online messaging and make sure their content is not offensive. In an age when many are quick to err on the side of outrage, it is important to know how to mitigate the damage if a problem occurs. When Ellen DeGeneres was canceled after reports of a toxic work environment on her set, she did nothing to clear the air for months, which resulted in spiraling problems for the beloved celebrity.
4. Craft a crisis PR plan and implement it when needed.
A thoughtful crisis plan can protect your business from threats and minimize their impact. Having a plan in place is one of the best ways to safeguard your company’s reputation, credibility, and reliability. A solid plan is multi-faceted, identifying potential weaknesses based on the most probable disaster scenarios.
5. Establish a social media policy.
Protecting your company’s reputation is nearly impossible if you don’t create and abide by set rules for posting to social media. Companies that post carelessly are usually the ones targeted in social media attacks. Establish protocols to guide employee decisions such as whether and how to respond to social media posts. Protecting your organization and its image requires advanced planning. In today’s hyper-connected world where people err on the side of outrage, an ounce of prevention can be worth a ton of cure.
About Red Banyan Public Relations
Red Banyan is a specialized communications firm and crisis management firm focused on solving complex, highly sensitive and mission-critical communications challenges. Specializing in crisis communications, corporate public relations, government relations, and legal PR, Red Banyan provides an integrated approach to communications rooted in strategy. Become a fan on the Red Banyan Facebook page and follow the firm on Twitter and LinkedIn. Read more about Founder/CEO Evan Nierman here.