A Lesson In Reputation Management

This has to be one of the more creative ways to leverage a negative slanted social media post in your favor.  What Smart USA did was nothing short of brilliant.

What makes this such a great teaching tool, though, isn’t what they received as a result of how they handled the Tweet.  It’s about the very fact that they found the post in the first place.  It’s about…

Social Listening and Reputation Management

If you look at the Tweet that started the poop flying…

Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it. Why social listening tools are vital to your reputation management strategy.

Smart Car USA was never mentioned. That meant no notification from Twitter.  (If the Tweet was about your brand, would you have caught it?)  Smart Car USA was clearly using social listening tools like Mention (my favorite) or Google Alerts (not really a fan anymore) to monitor for brand mentions and keywords (in this case Smart Car). Reputation management is about maintaining your brand image. That doesn’t happen if you don’t know what others are saying and where and when they’re saying it.

Smart Car USA’s response was possible only as a direct result of social listening. While this post wasn’t an outright negative about the brand or business, it did play on a stereotype with negative connotations.  It could have easily been a direct attack and something that needed a response.

Brand reputation management is critical for even the smallest brands and solopreneurs. It can take a single negative post left unanswered to undo years of reputation building. 

A well thought out response in a timely manner can minimize the damage, or completely spin it in your favor. (I have seen and helped clients handle posts questioning their integrity, quality of their service and levels of competence – one initial poster not only thanking the client in the end for a job well done, but baking cookies for the staff!)

Make the time to develop a good reputation management strategy (and don’t forget about online reviews).  If you’re not sure what to monitor or what tools you should be using, ask me!

If you’re not listening, you have no idea what you’re missing – and it can hurt you.

Protecting Your Brand’s Reputation

Before you ReTweet, repin or share that content – READ IT!

We should all aware by now that what we post online, especially public content, will live forever.  What you post can have profound, long-term effects on your brand reputation.  Even a single post, tweet or comment can take on a life of its own.

Where am I going with this?

 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]While it’s generally sunk in that we need to be careful WHAT we post, it seems that isn’t necessarily the case with what we REPOST. [/perfectpullquote]

 

TBefore you ReTweet, repin or share that content – READ IT!  We should all aware by now that what we post online, especially public content, will live forever.  What you post can have profound, long term effects on your brand reputation.

I was dumbfounded recently when I read an article that was heavily repinned and RT’d.  The content discussed how to drive more reach for your Facebook Fan Page and ultimately your website or blog.  Catchy headline, catchy image.  The issue was the actual content.  The author was advocating click baiting – something in itself I find unethical – but more importantly, something Facebook discussed in August: ‘Facebook is announcing the pursuit and war against attempts to entice clicks through headlines that are misleading.’


I couldn’t believe so many people were sharing content that would actually HURT others in their social media efforts and was exactly what Facebook was working to stop!  Regardless of why the content was shared, it was obvious it wasn’t read first (though I will concede that some share may have been from those that did read it and agreed with the Black Hat practice).

 

Since our brand reputation is affected by what we post, both our own and curated content, it’s imperative that we read everything we intend to put our name and stamp of approval on, even if that takes time, regardless of the source.

 

When discussing this topic with a colleague it was mentioned that content from a trusted source may need less scrutiny and maybe none.  It may be true that the source may will be far less likely to share or post such content, even the experts make mistakes.

 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]It’s not just about whether the content is true, the link legit or the image authentic, it’s as much about what is said.[/perfectpullquote]

 

Sharing great content (even from a trusted source) doesn’t mean your brand reputation won’t come under fire.  Sharing content counter to your beliefs, what you advocate, what your followers / fan base expect can be just as damaging.  I have generally have no desire to share the content of even the best known / trusted social media or marketing experts (or experts in any field) if I do not agree with their position.  Would you give someone who’s views are counter to yours access to your audience?  Unless you’re looking for a debate, no.  Yet sharing their content on your social media profiles is doing just that.

 

Four Simple Takeaways:

 

  • Read first, then share, regardless of the source (& do it every time).

 

  • Don’t Share, re-post or ReTweet without following all links.

 

  • Don’t repin without tracing the image back to its source.

 

  • If you’re unsure of the content or it’s source – DON’T SHARE IT!

 

It may take longer, but a few minutes now can save your brand reputation (and the time to repair it later).

 

Guilty Of A Gut Reaction To A Negative Review?

I’m going out on a ledge here, even willing to stand on the edge on one foot to say; every business makes a mistake once in a while. From minor to major offense, from customers to ex-friends and family, you might have some bad reviews out there.  The point is, like it or not, either you have them or you will.

Once you accept that, as I’d hope once you decided to hang out the shingle you knew you would, you can move on from worrying less about how  receiving a negative review  and focus on how to minimize the chances of getting on and to how to deal with a negative review when it happens.  It’s all about brand reputation management (related article: The Brand Reputation Discreditation).

The Negative Review Reaction: How to handle a negative review and protect your brand's reputation, Brand Reputation Management

Handling The Negative Review – The Wrong Way

The usual responses I’ve heard from business owners (not to mention countless blog posts) on how to deal with negative reviews (including posts and comments) are either to bury it or to delete it.  The idea being that apparently if they’re not seen, they’re not really there.  Neither is a professional approach to managing your reputation.

Bury It

Reviews left on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List (and no, I am NOT a fan of Angie’s List) as well as other sites there leave no option to remove the post, The ‘Bury It’ approach seems sound.  You usually don’t want that negative review at the top when potential clients are looking for your product or services.  While it may be one in a handful of good reviews, if it’s the most recent, it could mean trouble.

When looking at a restaurant last week to grab a bite for dinner I didn’t focus on the rating but rather the reviews.  A 4-5 star rating means nothing if all of the positive reviews are years old and the few bad ones are weeks old, the rating is somewhat pointless.  I can expect to experience the service pointed out in the recent ratings more than those older ones. – Robert Nissenbaum, Tactical Social Media

The idea then, that having a number of positive reviews posted to ‘combat’ a negative review would seem to be a good idea.  Not so; I’m smart.  If all of the reviews are staggered in terms of when they are posted and suddenly after a few negative reviews there are several positive in quick succession (while it’s possible that it is a coincidence) it’s not what I’ll be thinking.  Now I see the bad reviews and a desperate attempt to deceive me.

In the case of Yelp, those ‘positive’ reviews can and do get filtered.  Other sites are employing software to catch these as well, especially if they truly are false positive reviews.  The end result is far worse than a few complaints.

#BeTactical: Don’t bury a negative review with fake positive ones.

Delete It

On one level, it works.  If there are no poor reviews – all is good.  Quite honestly there are plenty of businesses with nothing but stellar reviews and ratings. Not having a negative review isn’t bad – unless someone saw it BEFORE you had a chance to delete it!  The same goes for a post on your page and especially a comment in a thread with others (those who previously commented have definitely been notified).  Again, you are faced with trying to cover it up.

Handling a negative review; online reputation management, monitoring and response; The cover up is usually worse than the crime. image credit: http://www.shelburnenovascotia.com/CARTOONS/Worse yet, if the reviewer sees the post removed, there’s a good chance it will be reposted and probably with the added admonishment of having it removed.  Users are also more likely to post the new review in more locations including private profiles on social networks where the visibility will be greater with no chance to respond.

#BeTactical: Don’t delete a negative review. The cover up is usually worse than the crime itself.

Handling The Negative Review – The Right Way

Be Proactive

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.  Since we know, at some time, you will get a poor review, it’s a well-known fact people are more apt to report the negative than to heap on the praise, ASK FOR GOOD REVIEWS.  This is the positive and ethical way to Bury It.

It’s also a great opportunity to follow-up with your customers.  I love this postcard I recently received from South Tacoma Honda after we had the airbag recall performed.  They not only followed up but asked for a review AND gave us directions to make it easy! (And yes, we did return for additional services.)

The Negative Review Reaction: Avoiding a negative review: Brand Reputation Management: I love this postcard I recently received from South Tacoma Honda after we had the airbag recall performed. They not only followed up but asked for a review AND gave us directions to make it easy! #BeTactical

The value in asking for positive reviews – when you do get that pummeling, it will be one in a bunch of positive remarks.  They’ll also be staggered so they won’t look contrived (not to mention the posts themselves will read well.  Hastily posted ones in an effort to bury negative ones will almost always sound rushed and lack authenticity).

#BeTactical: Ask for positive reviews. When there is a negative one, the impact will be minimized.

Helpful Tip: One great idea is to get the review BEFORE your customer leaves.  Technology is your friend.  Add a QR code to the bottom of the receipt or have them login to any social site on their phone, offering a cookie or coupon for their next visit when they do.

Respond 

If (when) bad reviews appear, they need to be dealt with immediately and professionally.

  • Make a mistake? Acknowledge it!  

Own up to it and work out the most courteous solution possible, PUBLICLY.  Sending a personal response is still recommended where possible but while handled offline, not doing so publicly means others do not see how you handled it.

Since I know there is a chance something can go wrong in the sales process as a customer, knowing it will be handled professionally, fairly and in a timely manner is a big plus. It provides me insight into how your business operates and adds an element of trust and respect.  – MJ Jensen, IdeaMagic Visionary Marketing

Consider the case of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, AZ.  A proper reply to the negative review on Yelp (in 2010) could have been leveraged to create a positive spin helping her business.  Instead Amy’s rant turned into a complete meltdown.  While the business is still open, their reputation will always precede them.

We can garner much more about a business based on the way they handle a negative comment, post or review than we can from a positive one.

Excellent advice on handling a negative review from @Kim Garst: Own your mistakes and your community will LOVE you for it! #BeYou http://bit.ly/realyoubook

Amazing advice from Kim Garst

 

  • The Unfounded Rant

So, what if the post is just a rant?  You handle it the same way – with class and professionalism.

While class and professionalism are a must, keep in mind, not every complaint, negative review or rant is valid or worthy of amends.  Plenty of people will use the threat of a bad review to get something free or give a bad review when a business owner doesn’t play their game. It’s common practice amongst a certain demographic. I consider them a low-grade reputation terrorist.

“While looking at my reviews on Facebook I noticed a one star review. It was from a person who continually sent me things to review and respond with suggestions. He wasn’t a client and never was a client. When not getting free services, there was a temper tantrum and this person was removed from contacting me again, then the bad review. I have worse stories of angry leeches and reputation terrorists, but I’ll save those for another time.” – Tamara Lee Taylor, Show Up StrongThe Restless Successful 

As business owners, we cannot be distracted by the reputation terrorist.  While a response is still required, a simple “Thank you for your feedback.” Is sufficient.  Experience has taught me customers will see past the unfounded rant (especially if you were proactive in acquiring positive reviews).

The Advice

As a business owner and consumer, I highly recommend doing your very best to deliver the highest quality product/service possible. Never over promise and under deliver; if you do, your customer/client deserves a humble and gracious remedy in a timely manner.

Hire quality people and train them well.  The best way to handle bad reviews is to not get them.

A Final Thought

The mark of a good business is one that responds to ALL reviews, not just the negative ones.  #BeTactical: If someone takes the time to write a review, the least you can do is take the time to acknowledge it.

Your Turn

As a consumer, how much value do you place on a negative review or testimonial?

You can comment below or you can find The Negative Review Reaction on Google+Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!  

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Do you need help with your brand’s reputation management or monitoring?  Do you even know if you do?  If you’re not sure, you do!  Contact us today to see how we can help.  If you’re in the Greater Seattle or South Sound Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.