Protecting the reputation of major brands, both offline and online, is an ongoing concern. Whereas previously what was said on a telephone between a customer and a member of staff was “recorded for training purposes”, now customers often take to one of the social media channels of a brand they feel they’ve received poor service from and let other readers know about it. Brand reputation is debated and disparaged in equal measure in social media channels daily which represents a challenge for companies to manage their brand’s message properly.
Let’s look at what issues businesses should be aware of regarding reputational management in SEO and social media.
Meeting Customers Where They Hang Out
It’s no good keeping a watch over your little used Twitter page when your customers post their complaints on an industry message board or a Facebook group. How customers choose to interact with a brand or just voice their displeasure online is a very personal thing in many cases. Companies cannot dictate the forum where the discussion takes place or even if it will be done in private. Furthermore, even when it is done theoretically with some privacy in an email thread, the irate customer could choose to publish the entire email conversation on a message board later for other upset customers to read and discuss.
Wherever possible, companies must appreciate that things have changed with customer relations management. Customers now wish to handle some issues publicly because it makes it harder for businesses to ignore their concerns and sweep the complaint under the rug in a sea of bureaucratic runaround procedures. It’s a whole new world.
Tailoring Social Media Responses to Match Brand Persona
Customers are frankly tired of calling up a company and getting the automated telephone system. Just trying to speak to a live human being can often take 10-15 minutes of navigating the system to find a way through to a real person. Partly because of the difficulty in reaching the company staff, the branding, messaging and the “voice” of the company is often lost in the noise.
Letting customer service staff use their personalities to manage social media customer service in a positive light is key to defusing an upset customer and making other prospective customers consider coming onboard too. Such is the power of a well-chosen couple of sentences which can indicate caring, kindness, compassion, an understanding of their problem, some clarity about a difficult situation, or to simply poke fun at the situation.
It’s even possible for clever staff to use some ingenuity by adopting the same wording, language and tone of the person who started the initial dialogue. Sometimes risks are taken in the response, but even when they fall flat, people will appreciate the effort. Doing so gives the brand a personality that wasn’t present before and can make it immediately more appealing, especially to millennials.
Don’t Get Backlinks from Questionable Sites
For major brands, it’s a good idea to not get links from sites that reflect poorly by association. When the main subject matter of the site linking to you isn’t to their liking, it’s time to contact the Philadelphia Office of a major SEO company to ask for their help. Putting in a request to have the link removed is a good first move, but using the Google disavow tool is also not a bad idea either. It’s not whether customers will see the link from the offensive site to their favorite brand’s website and question it; the real issue is getting negative press when the media find out about it.
Managing a brand’s reputation online is a full-time thing. It only takes one person to upset the apple cart and put off twenty people from trying out the company’s products or services. The damage to its reputation can be permanent, so companies would do well to make at least one person responsible for how the brand is represented online.