Just as your personal reputation can have a profound impact on your quality of life, your business’ reputation is the key to your success.

Just as your personal reputation can have a profound impact on your quality of life, your business’ reputation is the key to your venture’s ultimate success or failure. Business reputations can be particularly fragile. Negative content — true or not — circulating on the Internet can cause irrevocable damage to your brand’s image and reputation and can often trigger additional digital chatter.

This is especially true in the digital world, where customer expectations are high, and transparency is paramount. Ignoring the strong public opinions expressed on digital forums can be extremely detrimental. Companies have no choice but to pay appropriate attention to the constant chatter on social media but must also learn the art of communicating effectively on digital platforms. Businesses need to respond to problems that arise using a language that perfectly aligns with their brand and their customers’ expectations.

Proactively preparing for unfavorable content on digital forums helps mitigate the adverse and cascading consequences of a reputation crisis.

Here are a few ways your company can position itself to resolve a social media debacle.

  1. Search for and monitor negative content about your company.

Track all positive and negative keywords related to your company that may appear online. This will give you an opportunity to continuously evaluate your firm’s online image. Any negative content (e.g., a defamatory social media post by a dissatisfied customer or disgruntled employee), a public relations debacle, or a legal matter could tarnish your company’s brand image, potentially affecting your ability to attract customers. Digital marketing experts may be required to guide the online content narrative Google’s search algorithm generates about your business.

Various keyword monitoring tools are available that can notify you about any unwanted activity or damaging information posted about your firm. One of the most popular tools is Google Alert. This free service sends you an email notification when any information or news about something related to your company appears in the digital media. These notifications can be set for multiple keywords, including those associated with your employees, clients, products, and competitors.

In addition, establish a crisis management team dedicated to monitoring digital media chatter for any issues with the potential to harm your company’s image and addressing such issues before they blow out of proportion. The more quickly you work to resolve the issue, the better. This team might include individuals from a public relations cell, human resources, legal, security, marketing, and other relevant departments and areas.

  1. Be active across multiple social media platforms.

Social media is an excellent tool for monitoring the feel and pulse of your customers and of the industry community as a whole. It also allows you to understand how your company’s brand and business are perceived outside of your community of customers, advocates, and strategic partners. Encourage your loyal clients and business allies to post favorable reviews and consistently positive comments about your business. Acknowledge and reward customers who have posted favorable reviews about your business, keeping in mind the right balance between communicating your desired message and self-promoting. Such steps can go a long way toward combating damaging reviews.

  1. Set up an internal communication process.

Ensure that your company has an effective system in place to respond to complaints and resolve issues internally. Your employees must understand the importance of handling negative reviews in an emphatic and timely manner.

  1. Allocate resources accordingly.

Sufficient resources must be devoted to building a quality reputation management system and to addressing crisis situations as they arise. Including promotional advertising and company updates on digital forums with appropriate search engine techniques can require a considerable investment of time, money, and other resources.

What is necessary to repair your company’s digital reputation after a crisis?

Companies need to have an expert team in place to assess the nature and extent of the damage caused by a digital crisis. This team must then take immediate action to try to repair and neutralize any negative messages. For example, when a disparaging social media post has tarnished the company’s online reputation, this team would remove the malicious content from the company’s web search results.

Reputation crisis can also occur when defamatory content about a company surfaces from reputed sources, such as government websites and national media. Such crises require an even stronger team with robust technical or damage control expertise. Your business needs an online reputation management team that can build and maintain a strong, positive presence for your firm in the digital arena. This important safeguard will equip your company’s management with an essential tool to nullify defamatory messages.

About the Author:
Sameer Somal is the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Technology. He is well-versed on the nuances of ORM and Crisis Communication strategy, and has served as an expert witness on matters of Internet defamation cases. Sameer is a frequent speaker at conferences, on topics such as online reputation management, search engine optimization, relationship capital, leadership and digital transformation. Sameer was named an Iconic Leader Creating a Better World for All by the All Ladies League & Women Economic Forum and is a 2020 Business Elite “40 under 40” recipient.