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Reputation management is the practice of attempting to shape public perception of a person or organization by influencing online information about that entity.

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Reputation management campaigns may be conducted to increase the visibility of positive opinions or to decrease the visibility of negative opinions. One common practice is the creation of positive content pieces about a business to counter negative organic content. A reputation manager posts positive pieces in sufficient numbers to make the negative commentary display less prominently in search results or on social media sites. They might also join conversations, for example responding to tweets complaining about a company with comments that they had only good experiences to report.

For individuals, the first and most essential step of reputation management is limiting what you make available online to information – whether images, video, posts or comments – that you are comfortable sharing with the world for the foreseeable future. For businesses, the most effective approach to reputation management involves promoting your company honestly, implementing customer experience management practices and actively engaging with customers online.

  • Connect with your customers via social networking Websites. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account that you post dry, business-related updates to — you have to engage your customers and help them get to know you, your business, and your brand. Content should be interesting — now is not the time to pitch your business or products — and try to encourage feedback from your followers.
  • Create original content for the search engines, to displace any negative content that is currently popping up. This may take the form of anything from blog posts to informative articles to contests.
  • Never “astroturf” by posting fake reviews, no matter how Web-savvy you are. If you’re found out, you’ll lose the respect of your customers, and you could also face legal trouble.
  • Read the reviews, both negative and positive. People usually spend more time reviewing services they feel strongly about, whether that feeling is love or hate. You can thus use negative online reviews constructively, especially if reviewers bring up legitimate complaints.
  • Contact Websites if you encounter any false or unnecessarily vindictive reviews, and request that they be removed.
  • Respond to customer complaints by apologizing and offering your side of the story. Then if someone later sees the negative comment about your company, they’ll also see that you’re committed to fixing and fostering good relationships with your customers. No matter how tempting it is, never trade insults with the customer — it’s harder for potential customers to identify with you than with a fellow consumer.
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