What’s your good reputation worth? That’s not an idle question in an age when so many consumers are skeptical about the companies with whom they do business. And as more of us do business with people we never see, trust is a big deal.
But even the most reputable companies can run into situations where they do something (whether intentionally or unintentionally) that can damage their reputation. And in the always-connected, online world, word of a snafu can spread like wildfire.
The Spotlight Is Now On Reputation Management
The concept isn’t really a new one. It’s actually been around the public relations world for a long time. But the speed with which information now travels makes it a more critical need today.
Wikipedia defines reputation management as the practice of monitoring the reputation of an individual or brand, addressing contents, which are damaging to it and using customer feedback solutions to get feedback or early warning signals to reputation problems.
Unfortunately, reputation management has a bit of a dark side. Some companies have used available technology to simply suppress or bury bad reviews. Here’s an oversimplified explanation: If you get bad reviews or complaints on a social media platform, you simply generate so much “stuff” (good/bad/indifferent) that the complaints get buried where nobody can see them.
That’s not “managing” your reputation—that’s lying about it.
There are times, however, when businesses make mistakes or just plain do something wrong. That’s when you need to “brush up” your reputation and restore it to good standing—not by burying the truth, but by getting it out in the open and having a conversation about it with the very people you may have offended. The good news is that social media can be very effective in making this happen—and your blog is an ideal place to start because it’s public and it allows interaction. But there are some things you should keep in mind before using your blog (or other social media platform) to manage your reputation. Here are three to get you started.
- Don’t cover up. Don’t shift the blame. You don’t have to take responsibility for things you didn’t do, but acknowledge the problem and your part in it. Then apologize. Then talk briefly about what you’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- You don’t need to go into excruciating detail about what happened. There really are things in your business that should be handled behind closed doors. Don’t make it personal, but do make it about how you will take steps to meet your customers’ needs.
- One of the beautiful things about a blog is that you can ask people to comment. Tell them that you want constructive feedback. Don’t use this conversation to defend yourself. Use it to gather information that can fix the problem. And don’t promise anything other than that you will listen and give attention to what responders say. If you make a promise online, people can (and will) hold you to it.
A huge part of marketing today is about building trust. Social media—especially blogging—can play a significant role in that. And sometimes it can play a significant role in rebuilding trust when your reputation needs a little brushing up.