Online Reputation Management. Amplify your brand.
Today, people are finding your brand — and talking about it — on sites you may not even know exist. Trekk’s online reputation management services are designed to help you take control of your brand’s online presence, from tracking reviews and mentions to managing social media and ensuring accurate business citations. Together, we can make a positive impact on your search engine optimization and ensure searchers find relevant content about your brand.
- The more you know
- Why does online reputation matter?
- The impact
- People are talking
- The stats
- Monitoring your online reputation
- How to respond to a negative review
- The agency’s role in online reputation management
The more you know.
When was the last time you didn’t check the reviews on Amazon, Yelp, or Google before making a purchase? With multiple social media platforms and review websites at their fingertips, consumers are more empowered than ever to share their experiences and look to one another for advice when making purchasing decisions.
Good reviews increase revenue. Bad reviews, left ignored, leave a question mark in the mind of the customer. And with review sites growing exponentially, it’s more important than ever to be proactive about online reputation management.
To get started, familiarize yourself with these key reputation management terms.
Online reputation management: The practice of crafting strategies that shape the public perception of an organization on the internet.
Search engine results page (SERP): The list of results that a search engine returns in response to a query.
Each listing includes the linked page title, the URL, a brief description of the page content and, in some cases, links to points of interest within the website.
Citation: Listings of your business address on sites like the yellow pages, business associations, and online directories.
Search engines use these sources to confirm the accuracy of your location before serving it up to searchers.
If the information is different across all your citations, search engines like Google can’t trust the information and may drop your business in organic search results. Plus, people looking for your business won’t be able to find you.
Social marketing: The marketing of a brand using social media platforms.
For many companies, social media is not only a powerful tool for connecting with customers but has also evolved into a customer service channel.
Social monitoring or social listening: The process of monitoring online conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand, company, or person.
Social listening tools can be used to gather data on customer pain points, trends, or questions.
Mention: The inclusion of a monitored keyword or username in a social media post, blog post, or other online forum.
Review: An evaluation of a product or service made by a customer.
Customer reviews are a form of public customer feedback on many e-commerce sites. There are also several dedicated review sites, including Yelp, Google, Facebook, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor. The reviews themselves may be graded for usefulness or accuracy by other users.
Review generation: The process of gaining more online customer reviews for a business.
This can be done in a variety of ways, including sending email requests to customers, including feedback forms on the business’s site, adding review links to marketing materials, and providing opportunities on-site for customers to write an online review.
Why does online reputation matter?
The expansive reach of the internet has led to a new “pull” economy in which, instead of always pushing your brand out there, people come looking for you and convert based on your online reputation—both what they find from content you share, as well as what others have shared about you. Online reputation is a keystone element of a brand’s success and survival.
65% of people see an online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other online or offline source! And now that voice search allows users to pull up the top results on Google by asking questions on the go, it’s even more important for brands to be proactive about their SERPs. Internet users have unprecedented opportunities to impact even the most steadfast of business reputations—positively or negatively. As your audience clicks that search button, don’t let chirping crickets or someone else’s ideas and opinions speak for your company. Let your online planning, conversations, and actions mold your brand.
There is an online discussion of your brand. People are talking, and this chatter does affect your online reputation. Be proactive to think about potential...
Profit loss or gain: Prospects will either decide to make a purchase or move onto the next search based on what your online reputation tells them about your brand.
Press coverage: Online discussion can lead the press to take notice. Be proactive to direct the chatter by initiating press releases that highlight your accomplishments, community partnerships, company milestones, and upcoming events.
Hiring ability: Studies show that a perceived poor online reputation can cost a company at least 10% more per hire (2016). What are potential employees (future company ambassadors) finding and reading as they do their research? Make sure your online reputation is aligned with the reality of your brand culture and hiring values.
Marks left on your search results: The internet has a long-term memory. Even if you’ve optimized the content on every profile or site you own, negative reviews on sites you don’t own are much more difficult to bury. Best practice: be proactive about what others put out there and following up on less-than-stellar customer experiences right away.
People are talking.
The empowering part of online reputation management is that your team’s planning, online conversations, and actions can drive that discussion and have an enormous impact on your brand’s online reputation. Take control by first considering these three questions:
1. Who’s talking?
- Prospects. At the prospect stage, you have potential customers who are putting in time and effort to make an informed decision.
- They are throwing out posts asking for recommendations from friends and family.
- They are completing searches and asking questions on sites.
- They are actively reading search content and forming an impression of your brand that will drive their potential future posts and questions.
- Customers. Once a prospect makes the informed decision to become a client or customer of your brand, they will have a lot to talk about based on personal experience with you, your products or services, and your team.
- These conversations might take place on websites, formal review sites, various social media platforms, or blogs.
- Unfortunately, customers are more likely to talk about an even mildly negative experience online than a positive experience—unless their experience was over-the-top positive. It just means you’ll have to work a little harder for those positive comments and recommendations to push their way to the top.
- Competitors. Your competitors (if they’re savvy) will be paying attention to what is being said about your brand.
- As your company posts upcoming events or new products and publicly responds to questions and comments, your competitors are probably following along to determine how they can capitalize on any of this new information.
- In the same way, you should be keeping tabs on what your competitors are saying online—and what’s being said about them.
2. What are they saying?
- Product reviews. Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon (just to name a few) offer a formal platform for customers to rate and talk about their experiences with your brand, products, or services. Many reviews consist of a simple number rating, which gets averaged with the other ratings to give you a running rating, while some include detailed summaries of the experience.
- Social media mentions. People often share their personal experiences and opinions in ways that are less formal than a review. You can set upalerts to monitor these conversations, but it’s still easy for mentions to go unnoticed, so keep your eyes peeled for mentions popping up outside of tags and alerts. Use these mentions as an opportunity to engage proactively and transparently with those who are talking. This type of crowd-sourcing of information and experiences does have an impact on a company’s online reputation, so make it count.
- Blog and website comments or questions. As prospects are researching a product or service or customers are experiencing a brand, questions and comments will pop up. Customers often reach out to brands through their websites or blogs. The direct nature of this form of customer communication creates an ideal opportunity for a company to effectively address questions and comments for future searchers, too.
3. How can you influence the discussion?
- Build trust. Our best advice is to be transparent. Professionally opening up to criticism and feedback can help brands strategically build trust with their audience. Continue to build upon this trust by establishing a 1-to-1 communication channel where you engage with posts, comments, and questions frequently and consistently.
- Publicly address criticism. Although our first instinct may be to try and bury a nugget of criticism, it’s best to resist that instinct. We’ll say it again: be transparent. Transparency can seem like a slippery slope, especially with the very public nature of the internet, but as long as your response is professional, solution-focused, and tactful, your brand can come out on top.
- Allow in-house posts. As long as you remain genuine and moderate, it can be beneficial to look internally to add to the online dialogue around your brand’s reputation. Consider allowing employees, partners, or other team members to talk about products and services publicly. After all, these are the people who should have the most detailed information and inside knowledge about the message and values of your brand. When appropriate, let that message shine through from the inside out.
- Develop PR strategies. Be your own publicist. What are you doing in the community or with partners that can spark a positive public conversation? Share it.
Although it requires more commitment, sweat equity, careful planning, and thought on the front end, being proactive and timely in your response to who is talking and what is being said is the path to a sparkling online reputation. It’s a lot more expensive and difficult to clean up a tainted reputation than it is to be proactive.
Consider what these numbers mean for online reputation.
84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results. The percentage doubles to 44% when two negative reviews or articles pop up on the first page of search results.
Berkeley economists found that a Yelp rating of 3.5 is the end of the trust road. Consumers are much more likely to contact a business consistently above the 3.5 stars threshold; an increase from 3.5 to 4 stars on Yelp resulted in a 19% increase in the chances of the restaurant being booked during peak hours. Every
Start monitoring your online reputation.
Companies can’t begin to take steps to impact aspects of an online reputation if they don’t know what is being said in online spaces. The thought of reading all the comments out there about your brand might make you flinch, but don’t let that hold you back from taking control with these initial steps.
- Check yourself out. Complete your own searches (Google, Yahoo, Bing) of your company’s name, products, and services. Don’t forget to include common mispronunciation or misspellings. This quick and dirty search allows you to see what type of information appears on the first couple of SERPs about your brand. Hopefully, it’s your website, positive articles and reviews, and positive images related to your business. Take off the sunglasses and gaze into the glare. You can’t deal with information you don’t read!
- Set up alerts. Use Google Alerts or other social listening tools to set up some basic, ongoing alerts. Once you’ve done initial searches and established what’s already out there, you’ll want to stay informed. Multiple keyword-based alerts can notify you when relevant new web content is published about your brand’s products, services, and events—as well as those of your competitors.
- Check out the other guys, too. Monitor your competitors' online reputations as you would your own. You may be surprised at the overlap of online “chatter”. Remember, you can’t impact the tone, message, or opinions floating around if you aren’t aware of what’s being said. The idea also is to use what you learn about your competitors to fill in any gaps and gain an edge, when possible.
- Be social! First, make sure your company’s social profiles are complete. Incomplete profiles can send the message to searchers that a company is not socially plugged in or, worse, no longer in business. Let them know your brand is present and engaged by monitoring customer questions and comments and responding to them in a timely manner. Even better, publish your own social content regularly to steer the conversation.
- Read your reviews. It's critical to analyze and understand what people are saying about your company on review sites (Yelp, Google Review, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Facebook) that are relevant to your specific line of business. “But, I haven’t set up a business profile on some of those sites!” you say? Well, monitoring is still necessary, as most directories allow reviews to be created for a business even without a business profile.
- Get personal. Don’t forget about checking in on your personal online reputation, if applicable. Especially if you are a business owner or executive, you'll want to be sure that when people search for your name online they encounter web content about you that is nothing less than favorable. This includes comments, images, and videos that you post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on your personal blog. If you’re a leader in your organization, your personal online persona should be consistent with your brand.
It’s time to be brave.
Review Renegade and The Mentioner strike again, and this time your reputation is the prime target! Time to don your mask and transform into Captain Reputation. Your typical go-to superpowers of invisibility and flight aren’t going to cut it in this kerfuffle. We’re thinking more like humility, tact, and inquisitiveness. Take the content of all reviews about your business, and use them for the good (of your business!), not evil.
Okay, end scene. Cut the superhero anthem.
In simple terms, it’s time to be brave. Don’t be afraid to:
Take a constructive look in the mirror.
Ask for feedback by encouraging your customers to leave reviews.
Brag a little by sharing positive customer experiences.
Respond publicly to both positive and negative reviews.
Say “Thank You!” or “We apologize.”
It’s more important than ever to proactively monitor and be ready to respond immediately. Own your brand’s online presence, and take it as an opportunity to present the brand as you’d like it to be perceived.
Be proactive to:
Create a consistent stream of positive content for searchers to find.
Choose images wisely. How can you send your brand’s message with powerful images?
Think like a publicist. How can you spark a positive public conversation?
This is why we’re here.
Your current SERPs are simply the state of affairs right now; a brand’s reputation is able to be shaped. With our support, our clients have taken intentional and proactive steps to ensure their online reputations reflect their vision and culture.
When you partner with Trekk for online reputation management, we'll design a custom-tailored plan that may include:
Conducting an online reputation audit to assess your current reputation and set benchmarks for measurement.
Developing a strategy and recommendations to improve your reputation.
Finding and correcting dozens of citations and business listings to ensure accuracy and consistency. Because these sites continually scrape the Internet for new data, we’ll continue to monitor them so they stay accurate.
Monitoring your brand’s reviews and mentions, escalating negative experiences for customer service follow-up as necessary.
Responding to negative mentions and reviews.
Deploying campaigns to generate a higher volume of reviews.
Publishing branded content and monitoring interactions across all your social media platforms.
Providing regular reporting to ensure reputation management and social marketing programs are delivering on your overall marketing and customer service goals.
Manage your online reputation like a pro. Work with us.