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Walking the Narrow Path: Protecting Your Brand and Online Reputation


Today, a poor online reputation can do more than hurt your brand, it can ruin it. The common adage, “all publicity is good publicity,” no longer holds weight – especially in the online world, where a single ill-considered tweet can cost you a client. We live in a society where one of the most effective ways to build a reputation is on the Web;  which ironically is simultaneously the most volatile medium as it relates to your brand’s reputation. Upholding your online reputation can be a daunting task, and is littered with pitfalls and traps. This article will help you stay on the straight and narrow path, with an eye on maintaining a strong reputation, or fixing a broken one.

First, you must always be engaged and aware of what is being said about your brand online, and ready to either dispel or support those claims. Interaction is key. Do not be afraid to push back on a bad review, so long as the circumstances warrant a response and you understand how to respond professionally. There are SEO and consulting companies that can help you manage your reputation, but if  you follow some of the tips outlined below, for the most part you can do it yourself.

 

For reference, here are examples of 2016 PR disasters that had a negative effect on the company’s reputation and may take years to recoup.

 

What can cause you to lose reputation – (when a good reputation goes bad)

Poor use and knowledge of social media, public affairs and media relations mediums

A story goes viral – in a bad way. One click could cost you thousands. You do not want the wrong story catching fire online,  without a damage control plan in place.

A former client denigrating your brand online

 

Steps to avoid each:

Exploit social media (as many relevant platforms as possible) by promoting positive customer case studies, testimonials, reviews or media stories. You can share these on LinkedIn as a post, on Twitter as a tweet, or in a Blog post. Additionally, you can pay to amplify these endorsements on social channels. You can also encourage your executives and key opinion leaders (KOLs) to be more active on social media, which elicits interaction between stakeholders and your  company.

Be prepared for the potential of a PR crisis going viral, however improbable that scenario might be. Proactively monitor the social media conversation, put response guidelines in place and remain consistent in your message and response.

Do not panic if a client registers a complaint. Invest in client retention and communication. If a client leaves on bad terms, do whatever you can to temper any animosity. Listen intently to the clients’ grievances and, within reason, do whatever it takes to assure them that their complaints are taken seriously and that you will do what is necessary to remedy  whatever issue they are complaining about. Apologize and try to move forward. 

 

How to fix if you did not avoid: 

More and more companies are investing in maintaining a healthy and productive marketing strategy. Consistency in messaging, with a regular cadence of  thought leadership content, publishing and active media engagement is key to regaining the footing you may have lost in your marketing/online presence.

 

Sometimes a social media or PR crisis is serious enough to require  passing the baton to professionals. Reputation Insurance is a growing field, a testament to the importance of having a solid online reputation. 

 

If you Google your company name + “review” and find that you are paying for a bad review to be the first thing people see, you may want to rethink your ad-sponsorship strategy. Outline a strategy to banish  bad reviews to the darkest, most barren and isolated edges of the internet, i.e. page two of your Google search. One way to do this is to refute the bad review with testimonials or positive reviews from satisfied clients, but be careful to ensure  that the tone is not defensive or accusatory. Your response should be timely, and professional. Respond to reviews with accuracy and discretion. Above all, you must make sure that the internet accurately portrays your offline success. 

 

*Side note: You will want to make sure that your company is not mistaken for another of the similar name.

 

Following are some social media ideas designed specifically to help insurance agencies get in the online reputation building game. 

 

It is  critically important to be aware of the consequences of a bad online reputation. Not being prepared for reputation management is  among  the top strategic risks that companies face today. If you really want to think outside the box, a surefire way to increase your online reputation is by increasing your offline reputation. 

Poindexter is your ultimate reputation builder because he is more than your partner, he is an extension of your brand. And at APH, we take that seriously. Our track record of  client retention proves that. Poindexter represents you and your brand and you will not find a better ally than APH and Poindexter. Want proof? Click here for specific details. 

 

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