Last week, we published a list of handy tools you can use to track your reputation online, which I hope you were able to put to good use. But now that you're tracking your reputation, what next? How can you take action with all the data you're tracking
Once you have a baseline of how your brand is doing today, you can set goals for the next three months, six months, one year, and beyond. Analyze you collect to figure out weaknesses and strengths so that the goals you set are realistic. Remember, they can be adjusted later, but you need to start somewhere. Some goals you might consider include:
- More social interaction
- A higher ratio of positive comments to negative comments
- A reduction in negative reviews
- More mentions on blogs and podcasts
- A more positive overall sentiment for your brand
With goals, always use the SMART method. SMART says that every goal you set should be...
- Specific - Don't be wishy-washy. Give exact numbers or percentages.
- Measurable - Make sure you can track whether or not you are making progress.
- Attainable - If you aren't realistic, continuous failure won't keep you motivated to reach your goals.
- Relevant - Your goals should be relevant to your bottom line.
- Time Bound - Set deadlines for reaching your goals. Otherwise, they won't mean much.
Pay special attention to the relevancy factor. The goals you set all need to make a difference to your bottom line. Online, we sometimes get distracted by metrics that don't matter. For example, if you reach your goal to get more positive comments on your blog, did this lead to more sales? Or if you increased your Twitter following by 30%, did you make more money?
Sometimes, the correlation isn't easy to see so don't jump to swift conclusions that certain metrics don't matter. Other times, it's not an increase in sales that you'll see, but rather an increase in brand awareness, which could lead to sales down the line. Just make sure that whatever metrics you're measuring makes sense for your company.
Share your goals with your employees so that everyone is on the same page. Ask for input, especially regarding what is attainable. You want to set lofty goals that you'll have to work hard to reach, but not impossible goals that don't motivate your staff.
Create an Action Plan
Once you have your goals set, it's time to take action. The specifics of your brand reputation plan depend on your industry and your data, but here are a few steps that you might want to take:
- Identify Key Players
Who among your customer base is most vocal? Who has the most followers? Who are your biggest fans? As you track your online reputation, identify key players in your industry so you can start to build relationships. The idea here is not to bombard these people with social media mentions and emails, but rather to join conversations and slowly build friendships.
You should also be identifying people who are negative ring leaders. Some people will never be happy with your product or service, no matter what you do. But others are simply craving some attention for you. If their concerns are legitimate, address them both publicly and privately. Turn someone who dislikes your company into a fan!
- Create a Brand Profile
It's hard to increase brand awareness or repair damage if you don't have a clear idea of what your company stands for. You should already have a mission statement. Are those values exuded in everything you do? Create a brand profile and distribute to employees. This should cover your core values, the "personality" you want to show, and more. Make sure that all messaging is in line with your brand profile.
- Find Opportunities in Negativity
People can be downright mean, especially online where it is possible to be anonymous. However, if you look past the snark, can you find any constructive criticism? For example, the nasty Yelp review about your waitresses being ugly might not seem relevant, but maybe this is a sign that you need uniforms instead of allowing your wait staff to wear whatever they want. In some cases, you might even be able to reach out to individual negative reviewers and commenters to create a panel of consumers who help you fix problems with your products or services.
Of course, trolls do exist online. Learn how to tell the difference between a legitimate complaint (even one that is snarky and mean-spirited) and someone who is just trolling you (i.e. they just want to get a rise out of you).
- Respond to Reviews and Comments
If you do nothing else, you need to respond to reviews, comments, and other mentions of your brand online. Lack of response tells people that you don't care, especially in the case of negative reviews and comments. Responding in a polite, professional way can help other customers gain confidences in you
This post can help you apologize for mistakes, and as you build your presence online, you should come up with a reputation damage control plan that your employees can use to respond properly to reviews and comments online.
Evaluate Your Progress
It's okay to pivot in your business if what you're doing isn't working. Evaluate your progress at least once a quarter, and annually, take a hard look at the progress you've made. What is working? What is not working? Set new goals so you keep moving forward, rather than spinning your wheels.
Remember, always reward your employees who are helping your reach your branding goals! Every employee is a brand representative for your company, and by showing that you appreciate hard work, you'll turn them into fans of your company, even if they opt to leave in the future.
About the Author: Allison Boyer is a content marketer who blogs regularly about blogging, email, social media, and more at AllisonBoyer.com.