Online reputation strategies
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Working together with your legal team to create effective online reputation strategies
Marketing and online reputation strategies are different things altogether. When your business is facing an online reputation crisis, your marketing team is likely to struggle to do their job effectively. This might be a good time to consult with online reputation expert lawyers and to co-ordinate your efforts to bring reputational stability to the business.
The common use of these two terms, online reputation strategies and marketing is rather confusing. In reality they refer to totally different things. Marketing is commonly defined as the act of creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers. Reputation management, on the other hand, is the building, maintenance, and recovery of the organisation’s desirable image. Your company’s image might become damaged due to online defamation, undesirable publication of misjudgements or even due to mistaken legal strategies. Fighting a court case or even winning it, might still create a reputation havoc without having appropriate online reputation strategies in place. The long and short of this is that although we might have the power to control our company’s online marketing activities, the company’s reputation is largely controlled by other forces.
We can refer to marketing as the product, and to good reputation as the asset. Ideally, we would all prefer to have control over this precious asset, our online reputation, but we must accept the limitations to our control and learn to work around them. When it comes to the internet, marketing is mostly about making promises which we believe will appeal to our consumers. If the customers believe our promises, they will proceed to research us further online.
Only if they receive mental affirmation that our marketing promises could be trusted will they go on to consider our price and the value that we offer compared to other vendors. Unfortunately, some companies invest heavily in marketing activities at the expense of consistent investment in the company's online reputation. The cost could be heavy.
Regardless of the promises you make online or the price of the product or service you offer, most people buy online based on reputation. Often the decision to refrain from doing business with your company is more influenced by online reputation than anything else. Many customers would prefer to do business with an online company with no reputation rather than with a company with bad reputation. Building positive online reputation from scratch is much easier than having to recover one later. Once your company has built good online reputation, partly due to online reviews and customers’ feedback, it would make it harder for negative elements to penetrate your reputational shield.
In other words, customers who see a great deal of negative reviews about a company they have just dealt with, are more likely to add their own online negative review to the bundle. At the same time, customers who see a great deal of positive online reviews, are less likely to post a negative online review about the company even if they think the company deserves it. If your company’s good reputation is represented well on the first two pages of Google search results, any fresh material which is posted on the internet by others will struggle to make its way up to the top of the search results. But it works the other way round too. If nothing stands in the way of new negative internet posts, they will make their way to the top search results quickly, and after a short while their position could almost become cemented.
Online reputation attacks can be vicious. But if the company can re-establish a positive internet reputation following an online reputation attack, it will make the company far more resilient to future online reputation attacks. Taking a legal route to address an online reputation attack might be the right way to solve the issue. However, matters could also work the other way round and the legal action could escalate what is already a difficult situation. An effective strategy to recover from an online reputation attack might be to pursue a legal route whilst at the same time to ensure that concerns by customers are being effectively addressed.
You must be careful so that you don’t create the impression that the company responds to legitimate feedback or to online reviews by taking its customers to court. If the company identifies a revolt on social media or on online reviews, there will be no point in trying to take “everyone” to court. This will be a legal impossibility and a reputational disaster. Companies have to learn to pick the appropriate legal fights and to strategise their approach to handling online reviews and other reputational challenges.