Achieving business success in 2023 requires mastering your online reputation. The internet is a vast and often uncontrollable information channel that can make or break a company’s reputation. With the growth of social media, in particular, there are numerous ways a company’s reputation can be tarnished. While you can’t always fully control what others say about your brand or business, there are critical reputation mistakes to avoid to safeguard your online image.
Does Your Online Reputation Matter?
In a word, yes! Online reputation has never been more crucial, especially for smaller brands and small business owners. Disgruntled customers, online commenters, media outlets, or even internet trolls can wreak havoc on an individual’s or a business’s online reputation. For businesses, this distinction can determine success or failure. At Igniyte, we collaborate with companies of all sizes and across various sectors, recognizing not only how crucial online reputation is to the bottom line but also the pitfalls to avoid.
What Can Harm Your Online Reputation?
A company’s online reputation can be influenced and marred by various issues, including:
- Negative customer reviews, visible to potential new customers.
- Regulatory or compliance problems that become local or national news.
- Poor PR, encompassing statements made by C-suite management or employees misusing social media to criticize the business—’cancel culture’ applies not only to celebrities.
- Negative conversations on social media, stemming from customers, trolls, or bad-faith commenters.
- Poorly managed company responses to any of the above, exacerbating reputational damage.
- Negative media coverage in mainstream or sector-specific outlets.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Online Reputation Damage?
Business owners have several options for safeguarding their online reputation. First, partnering with an online reputation management expert like Igniyte can help clean up reputation problems and develop ongoing management strategies. Second, take the time to understand how business reputation management functions and take steps to steer clear of the most common mistakes.
The Main Four Types of Mistakes That Can Impact Your Online Reputation
Failing to Monitor Your Online Presence
This mistake underlies all others. Neglecting to monitor online discussions about your business can set the stage for reputational harm. Many small businesses underestimate the importance of online reputation management, assuming it’s unimportant. However, negative commentary can arise anywhere, at any time. That’s why continuous monitoring and proper analysis are essential for maintaining a positive online reputation. At the very least, every company should set up a Google Alert to stay informed.
Lack of Understanding and Awareness
By failing to comprehend the potential damage caused by negative online coverage, businesses stumble at the first hurdle. This is a widespread problem but one that can be easily overcome.
Too often, business owners mistakenly believe that reputational issues will never affect them. They have unwavering confidence in their products or services and assume that their reputation, both online and offline, is automatically secure. Consequently, when negative online reviews surface or negative PR emerges, the company is caught off guard.
Remember that poor reviews can strike any business or brand at any time. They may not be fair, they may not even be accurate, but they will undoubtedly harm your company’s reputation.
Bad PR can arise from legitimately aggrieved customers, completely unreasonable customers, individuals who fabricate stories online for attention, competitors, and even your own employees. Never assume that your brand or business is immune to such issues; instead, prepare for them.
Responding Emotionally to Negative Online Comments
A common mistake, particularly among small business owners and managers, is responding too passionately to online commentary. Various analyses have conclusively shown the importance of online reviews in shaping consumer opinions and a brand’s overall reputation.
While it’s essential to respond to negative reviews, the manner in which the response is crafted is even more critical. Reacting emotionally or without strategic input is always a mistake, and one that’s easily avoidable.
Never respond in anger or too hastily. Evaluate the situation, consider the negative comment or complaint, and determine whether responding at all would be more beneficial. It’s tempting to swiftly respond to an unfair or inaccurate negative review, but consider whether this will draw more attention to it.
Drawing more eyes to the negative comment through your response will only worsen the situation. Sometimes, it’s better to leave it unaddressed and concentrate on creating positive content. On other occasions, a well-considered response is warranted and can help build trust in your brand. Regardless, take the time to analyze the situation and prevent costly errors.
Non-Strategic Social Media Use
In 2023, virtually all business owners understand that social media can pose reputation risks. They recognize the need for some form of proactive approach to limit potential damage.
At Igniyte, we often encounter brands that understand the importance of managing social media and communication channels but lack the strategic knowledge to do so.
Taking proactive online actions without a coherent strategy can sometimes cause more harm than doing nothing at all. This is particularly true when it comes to responding to online reviews and comments on social media platforms. It’s also relevant when crafting an online brand persona through channels like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, or any other platform.
While regularly posting business updates is an excellent way to foster a positive online image, doing so without a strategy is counterproductive. Any social media strategy must align with the company’s message and values, with employees fully understanding the importance of the company’s reputation and how to protect it when necessary. These are just four of the most common mistakes businesses make regarding their reputation.
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An experienced Digital PR and corporate communications professional, Benjamin leads PR strategy and delivery for Igniyte’s clients across multiple countries and sectors.
With over 5 years’ experience in marketing, communications, and PR, Benjamin consistently gains high-ranking positive coverage for our clients in national, international, and specialist online media – including The Times, The National, The I Paper, EuroNews, Forbes and PC Mag.