Owning Your Mistakes: 3 Tips for Proactive Reputation Management

Billionaire Warren Buffet once claimed “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” In today’s world of connected media, these words have never been more valid. While your product may have dozens of positive reviews on Amazon, it only takes a single 1 star review to make a potential buyer skeptical. The same rings true for business in general—one frustrated customer can cause dramatic harm to your image. Businesses need a proactive reputation management plan.

Proactive Reputation Management with Search

Small businesses are often hit worse when a bad reputation storm blows through. While it might be easy to think that this has something to do with the smaller, community-based nature of these organizations (which certainly has some impact), the real problem lies within the realm of SEO and organic search.

To have a proactive reputation management plan, a company’s website needs to be primed for SEO. If a company’s website is not primed for search engine optimization, the risk of a “reputation bomb” is dire. In a perfect (SEO-rich) world, if a customer searches for “Joe’s Pizza, St. Cloud,” the website for the business, their blog, news articles, and some local reviews pop up. Because of the many and varied means of internet exposure, even bad reviews are less likely to show up in a search. However, if Joe’s has not yet invested in SEO (proactive reputation management), a single customer could create a hate site, write terrible reviews, and otherwise defame the company. This website would be likely to rank just as well under the above search terms, scaring potential customers away.

Be Transparent and Respectful

Social media and social media marketing has radically changed the ways in which businesses can interact with their clients. Users can not only follow your updates, but also utilize the digital space as a place for discussion. They will discuss what they love about your products and services, and many of them will complain.

The key to maintaining a positive online reputation is to remain honest and open in all interactions. If you have editorial privileges on a comment page, never remove negative feedback. This simply enforces an idea that you have something to hide. Furthermore, negative feedback can often be one of the easiest ways to actually boost your brand image. If you can take negative comments, address the embedded concern, and show changes that you have made, it shows that you are responsive to customer interests.

Be selective. Don’t respond to internet “trolls,” but rather to those who have legitimate, well-thought out concerns. Even if all you do is apologize for an issue and promise that you are working hard on a solution, the results can be impressive. Leaving negative comments to fester, on the other hand, shows only that you know your product is weak and that you have no plans to address concerns.

A great example of how successful this type of reputation management can be is Domino’s Pizza®. In 2009, the company launched a campaign to address some of the myriad complaints about their pizza. Throughout their commercials, a common theme of “We let you down, we’re sorry, and we’ve done something about it” inspired customers across the country to give them another try. The honesty of the campaign paid off—after just a few month’s Domino’s double it’s previous quarterly profits.


Be Reactive When You Must

While it is always easier and more cost effective to have a solid PR strategy in place before any negative remarks tarnish your online reputation, sometimes a customer’s falling out can cause major issues for your business. If you notice a dedicated hate site take roots, defamatory remarks posted online about your company, or even if you simply perceived that your business is negatively viewed by the community, you may want to enlist professional help.

Reputation management experts can help you get your business back on track in the online world. While it may not be possible to erase all negativity surrounding your company on the internet, these professionals can limit the scope and impact of these posts and make them nearly irrelevant. Most of time being able to push down the negative results over time.

To see how The Ad Company can help you clean up your online presence, check out our reputation management page or contact us directly.