The branding (or re-branding) process is quite extensive—from deciding on a name, to discussing and documenting your mission, vision, and values, to designing a logo, website, and establishing a social media presence, there’s a lot of upfront work that goes into building your brand. But, once all of that is complete, there’s still much more work to be done.
The foundations of a brand are not just meant to be built and then left alone—well, if you want to maintain a successful brand, that is. Over the months and years that your brand is public-facing, serving customers and gaining a client base, it will naturally build a reputation, for better or for worse. Your reputation will be shared with the world: on Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, social media, word of mouth… the list goes on. And how you respond to all those reviews and comments matters.
Reputation management is more than just responding to reviews
Approaching brand reputation management shouldn’t be done without a thoughtful strategy in place first. As defined by Meltwater, brand reputation management is the practice of taking steps to control and influence the factors that play into a brand’s image and whether or not people do business with you. More specifically, reputation management involves actively shaping public perception in order to dictate how others see you, with a strategy that consistently monitors a brand’s standing, responding to and fixing problems when and where they arise.
So before you jump right into replying to reviews, recommendations and comments about your brand—whether good or bad—your stakeholders must meet and agree on an intentional strategy and approach to keeping your reputation consistent with the promises you make to your customers.
Transparent communication is key
A well-known trend today demands transparency in business—arguably more so on the side of open and honest communication and a brand’s ability to own up to its shortcomings than on company earnings and salaries. Part of this transparency includes keeping an open line of communication between your brand and your customers, as well as encouraging your customers to leave honest feedback about their experiences with your brand. Here’s where your social channels real come in handy!
Utilizing social media for feedback and open communication
Regardless of your industry, we’d say it’s a pretty fair assumption that your brand has a social media presence on one or more of the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Beyond using social media to share fun photos, promotions, and industry-related content with your audiences, social media is also an excellent tool to directly communicate with your followers about your brand’s reputation in a proactive way. By coming forth and proactively encouraging customer feedback (both publicly and privately), this provides companies with a chance to get ahead of any problems that may grow in significance over time.
More specifically, each different social channel may be utilized for different methods of reputation management, measurement, and feedback collection. For example:
- Facebook can be used for collecting and responding to public customer reviews/recommendations, sharing testimonials, and responding to comments on photos, links and promotions on your timeline.
- Twitter is perfect for having real-time conversations with customers and can act as a “customer relations” hotline for troubleshooting with technology, communicating last-minute changes or cancellations, etc.
- Instagram (and Instagram Stories specifically) are useful for allowing your followers to ask you certain questions, answer polls, enter contests, and directly share your content with their friends via direct mail sharing. You can also set up an FAQ Highlights section for your followers to refer to at any time.
- LinkedIn is useful for connecting directly with both current and prospective clients on more industry-related topics about how your specific industry can improve, things customers want to see in that industry, upcoming trends, etc.
By optimizing your presence on each social platform, and actively asking for feedback, you communicate that you truly care about your audiences' perceptions of your brand, take pride in how you do business, and are constantly looking to improve and do better as a brand.
Still, responding to customer reviews and comments is, indeed, a big part of reputation management
While vetting through customer reviews on various platforms isn’t all that reputation management entails, it is definitely a large piece that cannot be ignored. There are some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to the most productive ways to respond to online customer feedback. As a rule of thumb…
Do respond to reviews in a timely manner (preferably within 24–48 hours maximum)
Do not ignore a review simply for being negative.
Do ensure you included branded language in your responses.
Do not make every response generic; customize responses based on information the user provides in the review.
Do ask customers to reach out to you directly as a means to help resolve the issue if they leave a negative review.
Do not argue with customers on their reviews! If your urge is to give a heated response, step back for a couple of hours.
And remember, do encourage your audience to leave feedback—the good, the bad and the ugly.
Need help with your brand’s reputation management? Team TIS can help!
Establishing and implementing a reputation management strategy can be more difficult than it appears. Team TIS has experience with reputation management for a variety of industries including restaurants and hospitality, non-profits, commercial real estate, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how you could benefit with TIS as your reputation management consultant and partner!