If you’re not doing outreach right, don’t bother. Instead of boosting your reputation, you’ll just wreak havoc. As Virgin founder and entrepreneur extraordinaire Richard Branson puts it:
“Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.”
To keep your reputation intact, you need to avoid a distinct set of low-hanging errors. Don’t walk into walls. Know the following blind spots:
Photo credit: Jason V
1. Outsourcing Your Campaign
Sure, it’s fine to hire a reputable firm to help manage your outreach, but take it from one who knows, you have to be VERY careful about who you choose.
As the campaign makes its way down the food chain, the person who’s delivering it may not even know what your aims are.
An innocent snafu could end up damaging your reputation with search engines, prospective customers, and stakeholders. And nobody wants to look sketchy.
2. Letting Employees Do What They Want
Even if you avoid the outsourcing issue and keep your social and content outreach in-house, you’re still at risk.
You can’t assume that your employees are born with the knowledge of how to represent your business. Employees who have grown up using social media to share inane jokes with their friends need some guidelines.
Put a social media policy in place. This should review topics that employees can and can’t mention, as well as tone, brand voice, and style. Whatever you do, don’t be a jerk. Make sure that your team has a hand in crafting these policies.
Image credit: Michael Coghlan
3. Posting Fake Reviews on Your Profiles
We all know that people rely on online reviews as part of making purchasing and subscription decisions online. And sometimes it’s tempting to help things along by hiring people to “review” your products.
After all, who doesn’t want some positive reviews? This is one tactic you should definitely avoid, as if you’re found out, it will hurt your reputation – both online and off.
Depending on your business, you might even have to pay big fines and suffer the negative publicity that comes with it. A better option is to encourage your satisfied customers to leave real reviews – that will enhance your reputation and quickly turn things around.
4. Being Absent
Your social media accounts are a small fraction of your marketing equation. You need to make sure that you’re actively engaging with customers and prospects.
Start by filling out your profile fully – it’s your online business card, and many people will make a decision on whether to even look at what you have to offer based on it. Then consider using a tool like HootSuite so you can have an in-house team (including those at the top) contributing to social updates.
Avoid the temptation to use too much automation – that turns people off and harms your reputation. Be yourself and operate within the guidelines you have set. You’ll gain a reputation for being responsive.
5. Inability to Take Criticism
While some companies deliver successful customer service on Twitter and Facebook, others struggle to get it right.
Here’s a story I heard recently. A company had a Facebook page, and a disgruntled customer used this channel to broadcast his anger. The company wasn’t sure how to respond. Chaos ensued with comments gone completely wrong.
Behind the scenes, there were a heck of a lot of panicked emails. Here are the steps that the team ultimately decided to follow:
- Respond calmly to the person.
- Encourage them to take their grievance offline.
- Post new content so that the complaint gradually moved out of sight.
- Hide the complaint. (Here’s a case study on burying negative Yelp reviews.)
The situation was eventually resolved, but it could have been disastrous. The lesson is that your outreach policy also has to include guidance on handling complaints.
Handle criticism badly, and you look like a bully beating up on the small guy. Handle them well and you can get positive feedback from a formerly disgruntled customer.
6. Promoting the Wrong Thing at the Wrong Time
Another way to damage your reputation is to make a mistake with the content you share – and its timing. Check out the mistakes made by some big names in this Cracked article – see how sparse market research resulted in a negative backlash?
As mentioned in a recent Trackur post on Facebook etiquette, carrying on with your outreach plan during a time of tragedy is a no-no. This is a surefire way to get people
Aim to share positive content related to your niche to enhance your reputation – and be sure to get the timing right.
7. A One Way Street
As Holon Publishing says, the best way to thrive is to create a tribe – and if your outreach is all about you, you’ll never get there.
Image credit: David Howard
Encourage feedback, and let the people behind your brand shine through. Customers will soon become loyal to your brand. When that happens naturally, then those brand advocates will promote you, making your outreach even more successful.
The bottom line is that the actions you take can have a direct impact on your online reputation. Avoid these 7 mistakes to keep things on track – and don’t forget to monitor your reputation regularly to see how your customers view you online.
About Chris Kilbourn