You work hard to build your brand. But does your marketing plan account for protecting your online reputation?

Negative comments can cost you thousands – if not millions – in losses. A proactive reputation management plan is essential in a digital business era.

MAKE TIME TO MONITOR YOUR REPUTATION

Prioritizing your Online ReputationIt’s a double-edged sword. You want people buzzing about your products, but you risk a bad word or two.

If you don’t control your brand’s online presence, inaccurate and derogatory content could tarnish your reputation.

“Though it is helpful when customers support you enough to calm a disgruntled customer, do not assume that will be the case every time.” Social Media Examiner

It’s vital you build in time to respond to people who praise and criticize you. Never let a valid, negative comment go left unresponded to in social media.

DON’T FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE

So face it. If you’re willing to accept online customer reviews, you’ve got to be willing to accept the feedback and address it quickly – and politely.

Fighting fire with fire will only inflame an attacker.

At Seeker Solution, we recommend offering the person criticizing an opportunity to state their case and respond by offering a resolution.

I say it’s best to be gentle and professional in your responses. You can ask a poster to message you privately or offer an email or phone number to contact you directly.

Alternatively, you need to set boundaries. Some negative content could be illegal. Defamatory language and false information requires defense tactics.

“In case of serious attacks to your brand image, it may be necessary to hire skilled online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers via email tracing, data cross-indexing, and other information collection techniques. Cyber investigations are the definitive path to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.” Kissmetrics

Additionally, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. It’s best to apologize and own up to your mistake In cases where you’re not willing to apologize for something you didn’t do, you can always respond with “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Saying you’re sorry without accepting blame shows you recognize the other person’s feelings. It’s also a great way to build trust.

DON’T DRAG IT OUT

In 2016, Wendy’s got into a “sassy” back-and-forth leading up to an unfortunate incident.

The burger giant’s tweet “attracted the attention of other users looking to get a rise out of the venerable burger company. Things took an unexpected turn when another user asked Wendy’s “got any memes?” Wendy’s replied with a version of Pepe the Frog made up to look like their iconic mascot, which they promptly deleted, as Pepe has recently been associated with racist sentiments.”

The Wendy’s debacle also is a good reminder to stay out of politics.

REPUTATION MANAGEMENT TOOLS

Technology has evolved to help you manage your online reputation if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.

Google Alerts and Hootsuite are two of our favorite tools. Take some time to check out these 15 FREE social media monitoring tools.

So we’ve got to wonder, is it ever “okay” to allow people to voice their negative opinions and not take proactive measures? Sometimes… yes.

“Allowing customers to voice some irritation or disapproval for something via your Facebook page may help you avoid their setting up a blog or a RipOff Report that’s going to follow your name forever online.” Marketingland

Bottom line? Successful companies make time to manage how they communicate with the public. If you don’t monitor what they’re saying about you online, your social media could become a costly liability.