Most would agree that brand and reputation are intrinsically interconnected for any business. Reputation, much like brand, is nothing more than a perception, which is to say that both reputation and brand are built through the direct or indirect experiences and emotions that a person associates with an individual or brand.
Reputation is a valuable commodity. No one knows this immutable truth better than the person who had a good reputation and lost it, or the business that tarnished its brand through unethical practices. Do what you will to repair it, but consumer and media eyes will always flit back to the dent at the slightest misstep.
In the current market climate, with consumers evolving to ‘prosumers’, actively sharing their experiences with peers, reputation is kind of a big deal. There are so many vendors that can deliver on the same services, products and promises that you do. You may have a great way to differentiate yourself or your business, whether in your delivery, products, or the quality of your customer service, but the smart money says that if you have a terrible reputation your differentiation won’t help you too much in the short-term, and rebuilding that reputation is something that may take months, more likely years.
The rapid progression of technology has spawned so many new channels and mediums for communicating that it has become much easier to monitor and track sentiment and conversations around your brand/reputation. Alas, it also means that there are myriad channels to spread the news of even the most minor of grievances, and any individual or brand that has been disparaged online knows that facts play a negligible role in slanderous tirades. Still, this shouldn’t dissuade brands from actively monitoring their reputation.
Reputation management is a trade that has enjoyed considerable growth over the past few years. Traditionally an offering from savvy public relations practitioners and rogue analysts, the bulk of communication agencies now offer it as a value added service, and a way of measuring and tracking the success of a campaign, whether online or off. Reputation management is *such* a big deal, that there are consultancies out there that do nothing else but monitor and create strategies for fixing or building a brand’s reputation. It seems that perception management is a lucrative business, Forbes.com even printed an article on 26 July asking, “Is Online Reputation Management Worth The Money?”. A more apt question would be, “Is reputation management necessary?” – to which both Forbes and I have to say, “Hell yeah”.
Unfortunately, not every business or individual can afford the time or tools required to monitor its reputation, thankfully there are a number of time — and cost — effective strategies you can employ to keep your thumb on any developments.
1. Google alerts
It’s 100% free and will alert you whenever something is being said about your brand online.
2. Position yourself appropriately
If you want to be taken seriously, take yourself seriously; position yourself how you want to be perceived.
3. Online profiles
You probably have a Facebook account, does your brand? Should your brand be on Facebook or LinkedIn? Social profiles are free and normally rated pretty high on Google’s search results – clean up those profiles and start sharing content that will assist you with your positioning.
4. Listen, learn, engage
Listen to feedback, if customers complain, find out what is causing them to complain and fix it. If they love it, give them more of what they want. And don’t be afraid to try new things, else you may run the risk of stagnating, and no one wants that.
5. Deliver on your promises
I don’t know anyone who likes being lied to, I bet you don’t either. If you make a promise to a customer or an employee, keep that promises. If you can’t keep that promises, at least try to manage their expectations. Nothing creates animosity and disdain faster than a business or an individual that constantly fails to deliver on a promise.
If you have other surefire strategies that may assist others in building or monitoring their reputation, or, as usual, if you think I’m full of nonsense, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.