Managing your online reputation essentially means responding to comments made by the community. Since the web is built on the principle of user-generated content – media created about your brand by your community – you need to have a good response strategy in place to address not only your own channels but also the peripheral buzz that is created by customers and fans. Always try to keep your response proportional to the original comment, whether good or bad.
If the response is positive:
Respond with a quick thank you or acknowledgement
This is very important; many marketers mistakenly believe that they don’t need to interact with positive comments because they aren’t harming the brand. However, if a customer takes the time to write a positive blog article about you return the favour by leaving a comment and linking to their blog. Make sure that the comment is from an actual persona and not a spammer.
Promote good comments but don’t overdo it
Don’t report every single bit of praise that you get; sav that action for the really stellar comments.
Keep the good comments flowing
Do this by adding information, opinions and personal messages to the conversation.
A little thanks goes a long way
If somebody has gone well out of their way to promote your brand, like getting five friends to sign up for your service, find a way to thank them publicly – giving them a discount, a special present or something else appropriate.
If the feedback is negative:
Treat every comment with respect
Recognise that people may have legitimate complaints and take each individual one seriously on its own merit. It is better to be overly careful about this than to let a legitimate problem slip.
Apologise sincerely and directly
However, keep it in proportion to the complaint or issue. Over- or under-apologising will make you look trite and disinterested. Apologise once and move on.
Don’t be defensive
Even if you think the person complaining is wrong or inaccurate, you will damage your brand’s reputation even more by being defensive about the complaint in a public arena.
Even if you respond privately and are defensive, you risk angering that potential customer who could repose what you’ve written to them.
Stay level headed by acknowledging the person’s point of view and calmly and objectively stating your side of the story. It’s worth noting that other people viewing the interaction are more likely to side with an individual than with a business.
Address the problem out in the open
Do this by being honest about what is going on and take the communication offline as soon as possible. Offer suitable compensation in line with what you would typically offer. Refuse to be drawn into a public argument.
Turn the negativity to your advantage
Make this happen by showing that you re genuine about wanting to help solve the problem. Many companies have created extremely loyal customers by addressing their dissatisfaction quickly and effectively. But try to avoid turning the issue into an overblow PR stunt because it will look artificial.
Measure your responses
If somebody is spreading misinformation or otherwise attempting to smear your brand image, respond levelly and present your case with facts and details to back up your point. If the commenter persists and will not listen to reason, consider removing them from the community or requesting a take-down notice from your Internet Service Provider. Don’t react by making excuses. Just state the facts and keep yourself from getting drawn in emotionally.
Never delete or hide negative comments
Online content can be archived and retrieved, even if you remove it. You will look extremely bad to your customers if you try to cover up bad feedback or pretend that an issue doesn’t exist.
Instead, bring it out into the open, deal with it definitely and then rely on your responsiveness and demonstrated fairness to deal with any later issues. The way that you handle a negative comment often determines whether people are convinced of your credibility.
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