On June 5, the popular North American coffee chain Tim Hortons’ online reputation took a big hit on social media with #BoycottTims. The source of the frenzy was the Enbridge pipeline ad that it removed from its in-store TVs after 25,000 people signed a petition accusing the company of “shilling” for the oil sands shippers. What they did not realize was that their actions would spark criticism from thousands of other people (and customers) who believed that the Canadian institution was showing a lack of support for the Canadian energy industry.
Online Reputation Management experts argued that the cause of the backlash had to do with Tim Hortons’ overreaction to the petition. The Canadian institution was quick to respond to ad critics on Twitter by stating that they valued their customers’ input and have removed the ads as a result. Before taking any drastic actions and replying to any complaints on Twitter, experts suggested that they should have tested the waters and ensured that everyone was on the same page. In other words, they should have given voice to both sides before making the decision they did.
A few months earlier, another coffee chain, Starbucks, took a big hit to its online reputation on social media when it decided to heal “Race relations” in the United States one latte at a time. The “Race Relations” campaign was prompted by the racial tensions, protests and violence that had erupted across America, exposing chronic deep-seated social ills. The campaign required baristas to write “Race Together” on each cup they served.
The fury and confusion boiled down to a simple question: What was Starbucks thinking? Reactions ranged from video parodies of customer interactions with baristas to some hostile online attacks aimed at corporate executives. Many have pointed out that the company’s leadership is predominantly white, while many of its baristas are members of minorities. Others pleaded for a more traditional relationship with the businesses they patronize.
Facing a similar Online Reputation Management issue on social media, but on a smaller scale? We’ve compiled a list of 5 recommendations your business can implement in order to protect your online reputation from negativity and criticism:
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Management can be defined as controlling the positive press about your business or name, while curbing the negative. This means managing as many positive first page rankings about you and your business as possible. Online reputation management should be ongoing in nature, especially if you have negative results on page two and three of search engines. Often times, those websites can gain authority and eventually make it up to page one.
5 Tips For Managing Your Online Reputation on Social Media
1. Write a Blog
This is one of the best solutions. Posting instructive and engaging posts on a frequent basis is important to your reputation management campaign. Once you publish the post, share it on your social media channels and inform your critics or followers/fans of the steps you have taken to address their concerns.
2. Apologize When It’s Appropriate To Do So
Make prompt but calm, humble and sincere apologies to people who do not agree with your actions. Guarantee them that you will fix the problem. Don’t be too defensive. An angry customer can’t be tamed by alibis. So instead of debating, please them with a viable solution.
3. Control Responses During Crisis
The worst thing you can do is stay silent during a crisis. A crisis can range anywhere from an unexpected website issue, customer related complaint or a lawsuit. How you control and manage it can make a big difference to the future ramifications. You should actively monitor and respond to customers who leave comments on your website, interact with you on social media or send you personal messages. Let them know that their voices are not going unheard.
If you notice that the comments are becoming unruly or too violent in nature, perhaps consider posting a commenting policy to your Facebook page and creating a new handle for customer service related issues on Twitter.
4. Monitor Your Goals
Don’t expect miracles right away! Repairing your online reputation will take time and that is why it’s important to set realistic goals with realistic timelines. In the meanwhile, you should monitor your progress to ensure you are in line with the goals you set. There are a couple of tools that can help you do that: BrandYourself.com, Google Alerts and Social Media Monitoring Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer.
5. Pay Attention to Your Offline Reputation
If negative content about you becomes a trend, you need to get to the crux of why it’s occurring. Always treat your customers well and encourage the happy ones to leave positive reviews on Google+, Yelp, HomeStars etc. When you focus on your reputation in the offline world, your online one will heal on its own.
Remember, do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. Karma can also damage your brand’s online reputation. Therefore, avoid criticizing other brands if you don’t like them to also criticize yours.
iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto digital media agency providing Social Media Marketing, SEO, PPC and Email Marketing services in Toronto, Ontario, the GTA and throughout Canada as well as globally.