Online Reputation – Don’t Forget to Manage Your Review Responses

Reputation management has a lot of similarities to online marketing, but it doesn’t stop there. Building a professional website, writing blog articles, and running an advertisement campaign are all important aspects of ORM. Yet beyond this, companies need a structured plan for building lasting relationships through online customer interaction.

Reviews Are Important

At ReputationDefender, we assist clients with generating and ranking positive content, but unfortunately, a few negative reviews can quickly undo all your hard work. Today’s customers are looking for more than brand generated content. They also want to see what kind of experience past customers have had. Studies have shown that 90 percent of customers read online reviews before trying a business for the first time, while 88 percent will trust these reviews the same as an in-person or word-of-mouth recommendation. This can translate directly into profits; businesses that receive predominately positive reviews see a 31 percent increase over those that don’t, while just one negative review can cost a company about 30 customers.

It’s Hard to Control What People Say

It’s hard to control who writes reviews on the internet, which can leave business leaders feeling somewhat helpless. Customers who’ve had a very memorable experience, either positive or negative, are more likely to take to the internet to express their feelings, and since many people tend to notice negative experiences more often than positive ones, online reviews don’t often represent a good cross-section of a business’s customers.

You can change this, as we mentioned in an earlier post, by generating more reviews. If every customer writes an honest critique, you’ll likely get a lot of positive comments (assuming the business is doing a good job overall) as well as a few pointers about where to improve. But even with the best review campaign, the majority of people visiting the site will still be there to read what others say, not to contribute.

Company Responses Make a Difference

This makes it very important for businesses to participate in the conversation taking place on review sites. Responses posted directly to this page will be read by everyone. Even if you don’t change the mind of the person who originally gave your business a negative rating, you can show other customers that you take feedback seriously and are sincerely trying to do a good job. Professional responses can often make you appear the more reasonable party.

Any serious ORM campaign needs to include a strategy to manage reviews, especially the company’s responses to reviews. The wrong response can generate more negative attention than the original comment, yet the right one offers a way to undo a lot of the damage and build a better, more honest relationship with customers. Managing reviews isn’t a job to be delegated to a college intern who happens to be handy on the web. It needs to be handled by a professional, preferably someone with real experience and standing in the company.

Planning a Response Strategy

Managing reviews is just like managing other aspects of your reputation. It needs a well thought-out plan, good writing and online communication skills, and of course technical tools to avoid missing content. Your response strategy will need to answer these four questions:

  • How do you keep track of reviews? – There are a lot of review sites on the internet and even with a full-time team it’s impossible to keep track of them all. It’s easy to set up a Google Alert for the brand name and any other relevant keywords. Other software is available with more complex capabilities that will let you monitor social media sites as well.
  • Which reviews are you responding to? – Don’t just respond to negative reviews. It’s important that people who write positive feedback feel their comments are also important to you. You should aim to respond to about 99 percent of reviews, even if it’s just a simple thank you.
  • Who writes responses? – Designate a person or a team to write responses. It helps if a high ranking executive or manager responds to at least some comments so it’s obvious the entire organisation is taking part in the feedback effort. Given time constraints, it may not be possible for this person to write every response, but make sure all team members have clear instructions about the style and content expected so the responses have a similar tone.
  • How will you respond to customers who are dissatisfied? – It’s never a question of if you will get a negative review, but when. It’s important to take these comments as constructive criticism and not react defensively. Some customers may bring up real areas where the company could improve, while others may be hard to please in any circumstances. Either way, write a short polite response within a few days. Take ownership of the problem. Explain what happened, and also what action has been taken to prevent to the issue from occurring again. Compensation can be appropriate in some cases if the customer experienced a loss of time and/or money.

If you stick to your response strategy, you’ll be able to build on positive reviews and avoid sustaining too much reputational damage from negative ones.

Knowing you have the ability to dilute the effect of hurtful comments just by how you respond makes online feedback feel far less threatening.

ORM is Vital for Company Success

Online reputation management (ORM) has become better known over the past few years, yet not many people realize just how important it is when building a business. A positive internet reputation boosts credibility, increases sales and improves the overall image of a company. It’s one of the most important keys to a startup’s lasting success. With all this at stake, it’s worth making a considerable investment in reputation management. You can look at professional reputation management services offered by Reputation Defender.

How Does ORM Work?

Why is reputation management so important? Simply put, page one of your company’s Google search has become the modern version of a company brochure. It’s where customers go when they want to find out more about you. Yet unlike an in-house publication, business leaders don’t have absolute control over the content of the SERP. It contains feedback from customers and articles written by independent news sources, as well as the official website. This makes the SERP more vulnerable, but also more powerful. Business leaders often have to work quite hard to influence organic search results in their favor, but once they do, there will be a much higher chance of turning anyone casually researching the brand into a long term client.

The following types of SERP results are crucial to creating a revenue-generating reputation:

  • Credible Testimony – Today’s customers are more likely to trust the opinion of other consumers over what you say about yourself. Positive comments left by genuine clients will reinforce the company image and make it seem more trustworthy.
  • Positive Reviews – Consumers are more likely to buy a product if they can find reviews from other satisfied customers. Drawing four and five stars on well-known sites boosts sales more than any other single factor.
  • Personal Interaction – Even internet customers want to feel a personal connection with the businesses they patronize. Social media posts, blog articles and responses to comments and reviews all help to show there are real people who take pride in their work behind the company logo.
What Constitutes ORM?

ORM today is a multifaceted field that includes regular social media monitoring, responding appropriately to comments, blogging, news and website updates, as well as more technical SEO techniques. Today’s internet no longer functions from the “top down”, with business leaders informing customers about their company. It is a grass-roots environment in which everyone has a voice.

Businesses need to create the impression of transparency, allowing customers to feel involved with all parts of the process. Appropriate responses and honest admission of mistakes or lapses in services can minimize the impact of reputation-damaging material and is much more effective than lying to cover up the issue. Beyond this, ORM is about creating a deep reserve of positive, ranking content so that even when negative material makes it onto the SERP, it will be balanced by informational articles about the company and positive testimony from other customers.

ORM is a big task and businesses shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to establish a positive online reputation for your business, consider working with our team at Reputation Defender.

UK E-mail: uksales@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

US E-mail: support@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (888) 851-9609

ORM for Hotels – The Importance of an Online Profile

Nowhere is online reputation management more important than within the hospitality industry. Statistics show that 97 percent of people look at online comments from previous guests when considering a hotel, while 93 percent find this an important way of determining their choice. More than half (53 percent) won’t book a hotel without reading online opinions.

Many hotels don’t establish an ORM strategy until they start receiving negative attention. This is a mistake. Google and other search engines rank content from online travel sites such as Trip Advisor and Expedia highly, so what people are saying about you really does matter. Unless the hotel already has a strong online profile, content from these sites is going to appear prominently on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and this will be the first thing a potential customer sees. It’s impossible to control guests’ opinions, but by optimizing brand-generated content so that it ranks high on page one of the search results, will at least ensure that clients find a balanced representation of the hotel. Responding appropriately to customer comments further decreases the impact as researchers see you are using feedback to make the experience better for everyone.

ORM Strategy

An online reputation management (ORM) strategy needs to be planned and coordinated just like any other marketing campaign. Large hotels often devote an entire department to this effort. Small and medium sized organizations may have fewer resources to employ qualified full-time staff. Working with a third-party can be a cost-effective way of implementing a professional ORM campaign without expanding employee payroll. Reputation Defender has been a global leader in this industry since Michael Fertik founded the company in 2006. We help numerous individual and corporate clients establish their brand’s presence on the internet.

Online Reputation Equals Revenue

A 2015 TripAdvisor survey which investigated more than 10,000 hospitality businesses around the world, found that ORM was a top investment priority for 60 percent of hotels. This was in contrast to small scale renovations which were only a priority for 53 percent and other marketing campaigns which ranked at 51 percent. This study shows that hoteliers are recognizing the strong correlation between positive online reputation and sales volume. A TripAdvisor rating, which is based on the quality and quantity of the recent guest feedback, can have an almost immediate effect on booking, so it’s important to already have positive content posted, especially positive customer testimonials.

Establish an Online Presence

How does a hospitality manager counteract the weight of customer opinion which is now so available and measurable on the internet? Every business will face negative online comments at some point. The key is to build a positive presence through brand generated content, so researchers can see at first glance that the hotel has a lot to offer. It’s not enough to build a professional website and move on to other things. Hoteliers need to maintain a constant stream of up-to-date and relevant content, backed-up by thoughtful and genuine responses to guest feedback.

Here are 5 musts for establishing a hotel’s online profile:

  • Optimize the Brand Name – Promote the hotel’s website with Google Business and claim official profiles on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Connect company blogs and secondary websites on an alternate domain to ensure your content dominates as many results as possible.
  • Post Regularly – Fresh content will rank higher with search engines, so make sure you post regular blog and social media updates. This includes multimedia content such as images and videos. Tag the hotel’s brand name in filenames, titles and alt content so that it ranks for that search term.
  • Set Up Automatic Alerts – It’s important to be the first to know about negative feedback, yet it’s impossible to constantly monitor all social media platforms, especially when you are running a business at the same time. You’ll need an automatic system that directly notifies the hotel when new comments are posted. Someone should monitor this feed during business hours and notify appropriate staff.
  • Analyze Feedback – Figure out what went wrong. Was it a one-time lapse in service, an endemic problem that is likely to happen again, or an unreasonable guest who would not have been satisfied no matter what you did? Knowing whether the root of the problem lies in the service department or within ORM strategies will help you devise an appropriate response that limits similar problems in the future.
  • Work as a Team – Set reputation objectives and share these with staff so that everyone promotes the same cohesive brand message. Put a coordinated team in place to handle monitoring and responses. Make sure everyone posting on official social media profiles exemplifies the same professional style.
Summary

ORM for hotels is about balancing your own content against what customers say about you. Be ready with a strong, positive online profile, whether this is created by your own staff or a third party like Reputation Defender. Once a comment is posted, it’s time for damage control. Respond appropriately and take action to avoid attracting similar criticism. If you have the SERP already filled with positive, brand controlled content, one negative review will have less effect.

How Can I Get People To View My Website?

Getting people to view your website is a vital part of any internet marketing campaign and also an important ORM tactic. A high organic click through rate (CTR) translates into conversions that will boost the company’s client base. While CTR isn’t formally listed as one of Google’s direct algorithmic ranking factors, it does indirectly affect the SERP and helps to determine whether a website will hold its place at the top of the search page.

Reputation Defender’s online brand promotion services include a wide range of strategies that will drive up traffic to your company’s official site. There are multiple reasons why people may be directed to your site, from finding it on a search page, to hearing it mentioned on social media, or seeing your name on a conference flyer.

Here are some of the ways to create buzz around your company site:

Become a Social Media Expert

Official social media profiles are a must for any company interested in developing an online profile. Once these pages are created, use them to generate activity and direct people back to your website.

  • Start with the basics – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course Google+.
  • Share articles – It’s important to share blog articles and other brand content.
  • Share pictures – Profiles on Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest are good places to upload images that can be shared on other pages.
  • Include video content – Post videos to YouTube and share them on social media sites. Use Periscope and Facebook Live to incorporate a live feed to your page.
  • Create content that is innately shareable – Use SlideShare or design infographics that maximize the visual impact of the message.
  • Add links – Make sure there is a website link on all social media profiles.
  • Call to action – Adding these buttons on Facebook and other social platforms will let you direct traffic to a specific action page.
  • Add social sharing buttons on blog articles and website pages – This will encourage people to link to your content on their own pages.
  • Re-share articles – Don’t assume all followers have seen an article after one share. Buffer and Edgar are 2 apps that will automatically re-share content at scheduled times.
  • Do a “Share Exchange” – Reach out to a similar sized account and offer to share their content (including a website link) if they will return the favor. This can open up reach to a whole new audience.
  • Don’t forget about these sites:
  • Quora – Generate material by answering questions that relate to your industry.
  • Reddit – There are a lot of rules against spamming on Reddit but if you take the time to build a profile that’s known for posting genuine and informative content, there can be a big payoff in site traffic. Once you have a following, try showing off your expertise by hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
  • Product Hunt – Submit a physical or digital product to Product Hunt’s “list of cool new things”.
  • Lesser known social media – Tumblr, Snapchat, Buzznet, WhatsApp, About.me etc.
Target Your Email Audience

There’s a narrower exposure window but email can still be an important way of gaining regular customers who visit your site often.

  • Email outreach – Send targeted emails about new products on your site and include a link.
  • Embedded link – Put a website link in your email signature.
  • Autoresponder – Add a link and an invitation to find out more on the company website.
Get the Company in the News

If your brand is in the news regularly, people will start to recognize it as an authority.

  • Pitch an interesting new product – Blogs are always looking for good stories. They may be thrilled to learn about something that would interest their audience and you will subsequently gain exposure.
  • Google News – If the site puts out regular updates, you may be able to register it a news source with Google. There are specific content rules here, since Google is resistant to news releases that are basically marketing, but sites that comply will gain a big audience.
  • HARO (Help a Reporter Out) – Sign up to be interviewed as an expert in your industry and link to the article on your website and social profiles.
Convert Offline Contacts

In person, contacts can turn into website traffic when people go online to learn more about your business or product. Here are some ways to make this happen:

  • Business cards – Create a personal or brand business card that includes your company’s website address.
  • Posters – Display the website address prominently in all physical locations.
  • Pass out promotional gifts – Hand out pens, stickers or tote bags bearing the company logo and website.
  • Build a mailing list – Ask face-to-face customers for their email.
  • Network – Attend an industry related conference. Share information about the conference on social media pages and write an article about your experience. You could even offer to sponsor relatable events.
  • Help customers get to know you – Organize a workshop or conference where people can learn more about your product and how to use it.

Generating fresh website traffic will be an ongoing campaign. It begins with generating interest in the brand through genuine content and personal interaction. It is then important to give clear and easy directions to additional information via the company’s website. Use a variety of platforms, as suggested in the list above, to give the company the best chance of connecting with the most people. For more help with building an effective campaign, contact our online marketing experts at Reputation Defender.

UK E-mail: uksales@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

US E-mail: support@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (888) 851-9609

Online Abuse – What Does It Look Like in Other Parts of the World?

A recent Guardian investigation has looked at how internet-based harassment is handled in various countries around the globe. The study was a part of the Guardian’s “Web We Want” series, which focused on the “dark-side” of online activity. At Reputation Defender, we assist clients struggling with online abuse, so we have direct experience of the difficulties inherent in prosecution, especially across international boundaries where a patchwork of different laws apply; few of which are really geared toward internet-based crime. Our privacy services work to help clients remove unwanted information whenever possible, but instances of online abuse continue to grow making this a pressing issue for legislatures around the world.

This is a brief look at how online abuse is dealt with in six different countries as reported by the Guardian:

China and Russia – The Horror Stories
  • China – China has at least 688 million people using the internet and in spite of the government’s well-known censoring capacity, few resources are spent on preventing or stopping abuse. Cyberbullying on social media sites happens frequently. A recent study across approximately 1,500 secondary school students found that 57 percent of respondents had experienced bullying, whilst 35 percent admitted to have taken part in the mistreatment. Mass attacks in which large numbers of people band together to destroy one person’s reputation are common. These are known as “human flesh” search engines or search groups. They often occur in response to a minor offense, but there is usually little proof and the attack goes far beyond the perimeters of the original crime committed. The case of Ding Jinhao, a teenager who allegedly defamed an Egyptian temple by carving his name into the wall, is one example. Thousands of strangers shared personal details and accusations across the web and his school website was hacked. A public apology from his family did little to undo the damage.
  • Russia – In Russia, the government also pays little attention and may even be behind many forms of online abuse. So called “troll-farms”, which are probably linked to government connections, are bursting with professional bloggers writing to fill the internet with spam propaganda and harass leaders who criticize the Kremlin. Opposition blogger, Ruslan Leviev, says he has faced numerous internet threats and phone calls after a pro-government site published his address and phone number. Leviev is unsure how sympathetic the police would be and says they rarely follow up on this type of internet case.
Europe – Moving in the Right Direction
  • United Kingdom – In the UK, legislation is beginning to tackle the issue of online abuse. In April 2015, a law criminalizing revenge pornography went into effect. Revenge porn is the public sharing of sexually explicit material without consent. This type of individually targeted attack is one of the most common forms of abuse in the UK. It begins as a personal vendetta, but much like the “human flesh” search engines in China, it can spread far beyond people who know the original target. In the 6 months after the stricter law was introduced, the police received almost 200 reports of revenge porn in Britain and Wales, leading to 13 convictions. Most victims of these revenge porn cases were women, whilst the majority of perpetrators (12 out of 13) amongst those convicted were men. The new law is expected to continue reducing instances of revenge porn, however these cases can still be difficult to prove. One particular clause that requires proof that the offender “intended to cause distress” makes conviction more difficult.
  • Sweden – In June 2015, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (NCCP) published a study showing that only 4 percent of the reported cases of online abuse actually result in conviction. This is because either the offense cannot be classified as criminal under existing laws, or because there is not enough evidence to identify the perpetrators. The NCCP found that, like the UK, most cases of abuse in Sweden were targeted: 44 percent of instances reported by women were fuelled by an ex-partner, whilst half of the cases reported by children were carried on by someone they knew from school. Men were more likely to be victims of defamation that included a criminal accusation, while women faced more sexually orientated abuse. One well-known Swedish case from 2012 did result in prosecution. Two teenage girls took revenge pornography to a whole new level when they invited teenagers in the local city of Gothenburg to send photos of other teens to their Instagram account, accompanied by testimony of alleged sexual activity. This resulted with a collection of 200 photos, usually with a name attached and an allegation of sexual misconduct. The site quickly sparked a brawl at the local school. The two girls were tried the following year and found guilty of defamation. Under juvenile law they were sentenced to community service and a payment of compensation to each of the thirty-eight  victims.
Elsewhere in the World
  • Australia – Australian law directly prohibits “menacing, threatening or harassing” via a “carrier service” such as Facebook, but recent cases suggest that this law is not well enforced by police. One woman who accused a man of making a rape threat via Facebook said the local authorities were “not responsive to her allegations” and seemed to have little understanding of how Facebook worked. Specific provisions can vary in different states and territories; in some cases “mere words” are not taken seriously, whilst in others they may be considered as assault. In February 2016, a Senate committee recommended a new law addressing revenge porn specifically, but as yet none exists.
  • United States – In 2014, a Pew study found that 40 percent of internet users had first-hand experience of harassment – with young women being the most common target. Well known cases exist, such as Anita Sarkeesian; the feminist gaming activist who has received repeated death threats, yet little action has been taken. Laws vary from state to state, but few are aimed at directly targeting online harassment. Like Australia, police often show little understanding or interest when reports are made. In 2015, the Supreme Court decided in favor of defendant Anthony Elonis, who threatened to kill his ex-wife on Facebook. According to the court, there was no proof Elonis intended to follow through with the threats, therefore the incident did not constitute a crime. It is generally considered a defeat for online privacy and safety activists. However law professor, Danielle Citron, pointed out that the case did set a precedent for online harassment to be considered in the same category as other threats, which could help with successful prosecution in other cases.