What do Microsoft, the Walt Disney Company, Google, and BMW have in common?
Aside from being monoliths of civilisation as we know it, these companies look clean in terms of their CSR (corporate social responsibility) reputation. All of them tied for first place in Reputation Institute’s latest Global CSR RepTrack 100, a ranking of the world’s most highly regarded companies.
Reputation Institute noted that companies whose CSR programs elicit positive reactions benefit the most, in terms of sales and consumer recommendations. Of the 55,000 consumers surveyed by the institute worldwide, 59 percent of them would “go out of their way” to send a positive message about companies that position themselves as responsible citizens.
Now your business may not approach the level of revenues in Microsoft, but it too can build as auspicious a reputation—whether in the search engines or on the streets. Read on for ways how:
Google thy name
If you haven’t searched the name of your business on the Internet, do it now. This is an imperative even if you do not have an online front or are a small-time business. You will never know the kinds of things people say about you behind the anonymity of their laptops, phones and tablets. Always remember that a good chunk of your customers will be plugged in to the Net.
Get honest testimonials and reviews
Do not turn a blind eye on feedback, even if your business has hit it off with many customers. Convince customers and clients to share good testimonials and reviews. Try installing a laptop or tablet near the cashier as an alternative to the comments-and-suggestions dropbox. Even bad responses have their diamonds in the rough, in the form of realisable tips from repeat customers.
Most contemporary business owners should have a social media presence, complete with the company insignia and contact info. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn—these might as well be your calling cards in the digital age. Social network profiles easily rank on the first page of Google.
Monitor interaction with consumers on your social nets or delegate someone who could. Proactively respond to positive comments to open more lines of communication and fortify consumer affinity with your brand.
Set Google Alerts
An inexpensive way to keep tabs on your organisation’s reputation is Google Alerts, e-mail updates sent to you each time Google mentions your search terms. To make the most of it, get alerts for your company name as well as your own. Similar services include MonitorThis, Naymz, and Social Mention.
Or hire a reputation management agency
There are many. Ensure that your chosen reputation management company doesn’t run too many micro-sites though. These are intended to inundate the Net with sycophantic messages about the company, an attempt now too transparent to Google, which pushes such sites down the search results pages.
Receive negativity with grace
Simply put, don’t feed the trolls. Take time to breathe and reflect before making a written reprisal against an abrasive reviewer or commenter. The rule of thumb is to ignore, but take exception if the commenter twists or misinterprets facts, especially in a large public forum.
Try taking the point of view of the complainant or detractor. Placate the aggrieved party enough as to prevent him or her from posting a damning review of your business. Offer refunds when you can.
If the negativity is already emanating online, create positive content that would push such links down the SERPs. Sometimes a simple, professionally written apology will do.
Remarketing is an emerging measure among reputation managers. It basically involves targeting Google ads to your website visitors as they browse sites other than your own. This technique ultimately lets your consumers know you are somehow invested in them.