Reputation is everything these days, especially with everything going digital. Thanks to social media, it now takes only a few keyboard and mouse clicks, a share or two here and there and someone could completely crumble your brand’s reputation in a mere few minutes! All it takes is one mistake to create a snowball effect that can harm you brand's reputation for the long haul.
When your business is known to have a good reputation customers will trust you and want to continue coming back to your business. So, we've put together a brief guide below that will outline some important tips to follow in order to help preserve and boost your brand's reputation.
Provide Great Customer Service
Let's start off with one of the most important elements of your business - customer service. At the forefront of each phase of the buyer's journey is customer service. Depending on the type of experience a customer has with your employees, that experience can either make or break a buyer's journey. You can be offering some pretty great products or services and have beautiful branding, but if a customer feels dissatisfied with the type of customer service they received at any point whether that's before they make a purchase or after, your brand reputation can be harmed as customers are way more likely to leave a negative review about a bad experience with a company's customer service, than a positive one.
You may not be able to control direct negative word-of-mouth reviews from peer to peer, but you can do some damage control if a negative review is left online. Once these online reviews happen, it is important to respond to as many reviews as possible both good and bad, even dedicate a person on your team to respond to them. These reviews will likely be up on the internet for years to come, and a new customer researching your brand may see them and they can impact their decision to purchase something from your brand. However, as responding to reviews can be quite time consuming while trying to maintain your own presence and engagement on social media, it is okay to prioritize. For example, if customers are asking questions on your Google Business Page, or in comments and direct messages on your social media pages - you can choose to respond to these questions first and foremost as these might be easier to answer than a nasty review. By responding to inquiries, it will still show your audience you are being responsive and care. Try to respond to at least some reviews in the end though as these few responses can still go a long way!
Lead by Example
When you are running or managing a business, it is important to train your employees to provide good customer service and come up with key core values for the brand that you want your employees to recognize and embrace such as teamwork, personal accountability, and/or commitment to provide superior and innovative customer service and products.
Also, this should be a no brainer, but treat your employees right! Dissatisfied employees may go rogue one day and post something on social media about the brand. The amount of NotMy[CompanyName] accounts that have popped up in the past year alone is disheartening, don't be that brand who has a NotMyAccount created about them! In case you missed them, these accounts have primarily been created on Instagram and the content on these pages consist mostly of anonymous statements made by former/current employees that discuss what discrimination and unfair working conditions they experienced with the employers at said company.
While no one is perfect, it is important to stay connected and communicate properly with your employees and check in on them regularly to see how they're doing, what you feel they could improve in, and compliment them on things they've done well. When employees feel they are being valued and listened to by their superior/manager/leader, they will more engaged with their work and it will be better for the brand, not only for reputation, but as a whole if the working environment is healthy.
THINK Before You POST!
This is another pretty obvious no brainer, but you should always think about what you are saying or posting on social media before you publish the post, especially the post discusses a controversial topic such as politics or religion. If you have to think too hard about it, chances are you may be better off not posting anything at all about a certain subject matter. For example, with the whole conflict in the Middle East right now, even if you mean well, it can be hard to say the right thing still without offending someone in some way, especially as emotions and tensions are quite high. However, that is not to say you should always refrain from posting about certain topics that may actually be important to your consumers. In fact, 54% of consumers now expect brands to speak up about social and racial injustices and take part in discussions about these issues. We encourage you to do your research behind these social issues as much as possible if you decide you are going to post something about it to further engage with your consumers, as haphazardly posting something based off one news headline or infographic you read can do more harm than good.
Now for small business owners especially, while it can be good to post your face talking on a story or reel about something to add SOME personalization to your brand, definitely avoid talking about more sensitive and highly personal topics here on a whim. Remember, you are posting on your business account after all. Use the selfie camera and recording option for stories to showcase yourself talking about why you created the products or processes you did instead. You have to be careful with your personal social media accounts too, especially if the company name that you own, or work for, is listed in your bio somewhere. We have seen many cases now during the pandemic where people will post wild conspiracy theories or even brag about violating public health orders on their personal account. Just.. don't do that. These people got absolutely ripped by the general public and now many people are boycotting their brands since the place they worked for or owned was in fact listed on their personal profile pages.
Depending on what kind of products or services you brand sells, this may vary, but be transparent about your ingredients, production process, and so on where possible - customers now more than ever appreciate this! In fact, according to a study,
If you're charging quite a high price for one of your products, but not being clear about why it costs so much, that may prompt a customer to form the perception that your brand is hiding something. For example, the food industry has seen an uprise in more specialty diets and is starting to "cater" to these diets by slapping claims such as "Gluten-Free" or "Vegan" on their products as a marketing tactic and raising the price just because of those new claims, when in fact the product was already naturally gluten free or vegan anyway... a consumer may do their research to find that there's nothing special added to these products to justify the price increase. If you are going to use one of these claims on your products, make sure that it is consistent with your pricing, and let your consumers know why you are charging the price you are. If you had to use a more expensive ingredient to help support the claim (e.g. using a more expensive Gluten-Free flour blend to create a bakery item, or a naturally sourced luxury oil to create a lip gloss), disclose that!
Lastly, make sure all of your digital platforms are streamlined and consistent. Instagram bio prompting users to check out your website to place an online order? Make sure your website is up and running smoothly! There was a case where we came across an Instagram page that had a Call to Action in their bio to encourage us to click the link to get to the website to place an order, but when we checked it out, there was no such feature. We could not add any item to a shopping cart anywhere. This definitely altered my perception of how organized the brand is, and no purchase ended up being made in the end.
Being consistent goes hand in hand with being transparent as well, make sure the products you are promoting on your social media pages actually look like the product the customer will receive! And, don't steal other people's pictures. We have seen a brand who literally stole influencer's photos off their Instagram pages (without their permission), and photoshopped the picture so that the influencer was wearing their brand of clothing instead. Some consumers recognized this happening as they follow the influencers, so the brand got called out and tons of people started boycotting the brand afterwards. Not sure about you, but to us, that sounds like a lot more of a headache to look around to steal someone else's photo, photoshop it, then deal with the backlash that comes with a stolen photo, than to just create your own content!
While at the end of the day, all of us our human and make mistakes, unfortunately when you make a mistake in the digital world it is a mistake that can have a long lasting impact. Once you post something that is not received well by consumers, it can take years to rebuild your reputation as that post may essentially remain up on the internet, forever! That may all sound incredibly daunting, but if you follow these basic guidelines, you are less likely to post something you will later regret.