For small and often medium-sized businesses it’s easy to forget the importance of your online presence, or lack thereof. With so many other business critical matters to take care of, it’s no wonder this is an area that sometimes slips through the cracks. But, having a well-thought-out working plan and ongoing strategy for managing this presence, in particular with regards to your social platforms, can help you identify any potential hiccups before they get out of hand and enable you to proactively protect your company’s reputation. After all, every damning news article, photo or discussion will be online forever, waiting silently in the Google search archives, ready to rear its ugly head when you least expect it. So tread carefully…
We’ve compiled a few tips that deserve consideration when formulating your online strategy:
Creating a social media presence is excellent for climbing the Google search pages, as well as for developing relationships with new and existing customers. And it’s certainly a recommended strategy for the majority of businesses. However by signing up to the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumbler you must also ensure you have the manpower and nous to nurture and manage these valuable resources as, left to their own devices, a positive presence could swiftly turn sour.
It’s good practice to limit the amount of people who are in charge of managing your social accounts, giving the responsibility to a handful of people who are articulate, remain calm under pressure and who are fully aware of and on board with the company’s brand values. If the duty falls to more than one person it is essential they are able communicate with the same tone in order to provide continuity across your platforms. These individuals are the voice of your company.
Social media is fast-paced and management of it can be quite draining, but the key is to remain quick footed. Never forget the importance of providing considered posts and responses. It’s all too easy to type the first thing that comes into your head and sometimes in a heated dialogue your first reaction might be to spin a white lie to protect the company and to stop the topic from escalating. But, honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your company’s reputation. This approach may be lengthy and might not please everyone but it will be a better reputation protecting strategy in the long run. Where possible always try to move discussions with unhappy customers offline.
The best thing you can do is be prepared. Brainstorm instances that could potentially be damaging for your online reputation, for example website or phone line down time, product recalls, customer dissatisfaction, brand negativity, negative product reviews and trolling. These situations will hopefully be rare occurrences, however having a plan of how you and your team will deal with these situations will not only provide you with continuity but will also allow you to respond quickly and professionally, thus limiting fall-out.
Finally, if historical online pages with negative content such as unfavourable press articles and product reviews continually rank highly on search engines then all is not lost. Many people only get through the first few pages of search results so driving content down will reduce the likelihood of them being found. Now, there are dedicated online reputation management companies who can do this for you, but you can do it yourself. It’s simply a case of optimizing your own positive content and creating profiles and driving a reasonably active presence across the multitude of social media sites available, if you haven’t already done so. These types of sites tend to naturally rank higher and by simply linking them together, your Google ranking will see an even more positive result. Positive, on brand content at the top; negative, outdated content at the bottom – simples!