Have you ever wondered what your clients really think of you? Try this… start with a Google search for yourself or your company name, then add the word “reviews” to the search. The result is a snapshot of the first impression most people get of your brand online.

Social media, reputation, and search marketing overlap, but each area of your brand’s digital PR has its nuances. We’ll help untangle them, uncovering tips on how to harness the power of reputation to influence your success (and your power to change your reputation for the better).

What is reputation, and how is it different from social and search? If you think of branded social media as a way to show unique value to customers—how you want to be seen—reputation is simply the converse. It’s how your customers present your value (their experience) to peers. Brands can influence their own reputation through good behavior (in the real world and on social), but while deleting negative comments may work on Facebook, it simply doesn’t apply to reviews. Yelp, Angie’s List, GlassDoor, and others let consumers tell each other about first-person experiences while companies can feel stuck on the sidelines. Google+ brings together social, search, and reviews directly in search results, so while you may publish plenty on your brand’s page, the number of stars next to your name often gets seen before anyone even clicks to your page.

Here’s how you can change that…
Your response to what people say about you, whether good or bad, should start with three steps: listening, doing, and showing.

Start by listening. Taking critique isn’t fun, but sometimes it’s necessary. Instead of simply chalking up bad reviews to ungrateful consumers, search for the consistent issues in your customer experience. Address the thorn in your side before outlying comments.

Look for the good as well. It may sound obvious, but fixing what isn’t broken is still a big pitfall. The tech mantra “innovate or die” may be ubiquitous but it’s also applied recklessly, leaving users of many products asking for “the old version.” Every one of us can cite an example. With an honest picture of what your customers are saying, you’ll zero in on the best ways to improve.

Step two is doing. Take the constructive criticism, roll up your sleeves, and get down to work. To change how customers see you, you’ll need to make changes to how you market yourself and how you do business. Target nagging complaints and build them into strengths. Engage your employees as the core of process improvement. Odds are what bothers your clients is also a pain point for your team. By giving them influence in how problems are solved, you increase compliance implementing new policies, and accountability for the results. You may not be able to fix every issue or customer complaint by executive order. Building a strategy around bottom-up fixes for the most common problems will get your reputation on the path to success.

Accelerate results and show customers the new you. Respond to comments, offering to remedy poor experiences. Often you can earn a better (revised) review. It may not be a full five stars, but improvement sends a message that you feel accountable and you care. That’s a huge step, and you should start to see a result within a few sales cycles.

Showing is all about proving you’ve changed for the better. It’s not just bragging, and your customers do want to know. A few of the star detractors with the worst experiences will probably put you to the test right away. If you’ve made marketing claims in the past, make sure these have been revisted. In CX and reputation, expectations are everything.

Now that you’ve fixed a few things, ask bona-fide fans to write something positive. Fans generally find requests flattering; it’s a flat-out acknowledgement of their influence. It also fans a flame that often gets overlooked: while people are quick to write a bad review, most don’t even think about writing a positive one.

Positive word of mouth is your best advertising, and amplifies the power of every other marketing message you send. To learn more about reputation, marketing strategy, and the creative insights that build business, drop us a line. We’re always happy to hear from you. Comments? Send those our way as well!


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