A search on Google doesn’t just bring up your website anymore. It brings up your site, your Facebook profile, and every single review site that has comments about your brand. To protect your reputation online, never forget these five immutable laws:
1. Listen first.
Problems can sneak up on you if you are not listening to what your customers are saying online. People expect to hear back from a brand within a few hours when they detail a problem on social media. If you aren’t listening, you can’t respond.
Listening first also gives you an idea of the conversations people are having on a specific platform and the etiquette there. Many brands have made embarrassing mistakes by jumping into a conversation before they understand what it is about.
2. Keep a cool head.
No matter how unfair, inaccurate, and wrongheaded a negative comment is, do not go on the defensive. Look at it from the point of view of other posters: the complainer is just a customer expressing their mind. You are the big, powerful brand. When you respond negatively or angrily, it makes you look mean and bullying.
3. Know when to answer and when to stay quiet.
A number of brands have found great benefit to doing their customer service right in their social networking channels. Not only do they get to rescue a relationship with a customer; they get the chance to demonstrate their high levels of customer service to everyone who reads the interaction.
There are also times when comments from a brand can do more harm than good. As we described above, answering when you are angry and defensive is never a good move. It is also a good idea to keep out of sensitive subjects. Brands who have attempted to use these in a promotional manner have seen it backfire.
4. Remember that the customer is in charge.
We are well past the time when brands controlled the conversation. In the modern digital world, everyone has the ability to have their say. Do not attempt to delete negative comments. Things that are posted online have a tendency to live forever; you never know when someone has screencapped something for posterity.
5. Provide excellent service.
The most fundamental aspect of reputation management involves doing everything you can to earn a sterling reputation. See the same complaints from a number of customers? Do your best to address these issues so that future customers have a better experience.
Public sentiment can be hard to manage. However, by working to be responsive and helpful online, you can better ensure that the people who find you there will be happy with what they see.