As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” In business, your company’s reputation means a lot. While there is debate among academics regarding the importance of reputation in relation to consumer behavior, it is clear that a brand’s reputation plays a part in how successful a business becomes.
The reputation of a company serves as its public face before a potential customer even has a chance to hear a sales pitch or view marketing materials. Gaining a poor reputation can take many years to correct, and even then, reputation strikes from the past can still come back to haunt businesses.
The Internet’s Effect On Company Reputations
At the heart of the matter of company reputations and their trials is the speed at which information travels these days. In the distant past, if a company gained a bad reputation, it could simply pack up and move a few towns over with a fresh start. These days, the global community of the Internet and the indelible nature of online information can follow a brand for decades.
Misinformation can also be a problem on the Internet. If one person leaves a bad review on social media regarding a company’s product, someone else may read it and infer that a larger problem exists. That person may go on to repeat the embellishment, and before you know it, an entirely false narrative has been created regarding the product.
The worst part is that all of this can take place globally in the span of a few hours, and if the story reaches a media outlet and gets reported more widely, the problem only gets compounded. At that point, it doesn’t even matter what’s true anymore. The only thing that matters is what people think is true. To combat threats to a brand’s reputation, many business owners turn to reputation management services or marketing reputation solutions.
Does Reputation Marketing Work?
Reputation marketing or management is the act of countering bad public relations material with positive material. In some cases, this is done as a purely reactionary move such as when a negative story gets released in the wider press. In others, it is undertaken as a way of building a reputation by taking proactive steps to counter the potential for future negative press.
As to whether a business’ public reputation can be enhanced through reputation management services is questionable. On the one hand, reputation marketing and management can counteract the visibility of negative stories, and on some level, it can also affect the public perception of a company. The problem comes in when you get into the psychology of consumerism and how much weight a negative reputation holds in the mind of consumers.
The truth is that some negative stories have such a large impact that it can be nearly impossible to change perception merely using reputation management strategies. In these cases, time is often the best remedy alongside demonstrating that changes have been made. A good public relations strategy can also go a long way in changing consumer perception, but once again, it takes time to make big changes when a particularly negative story comes along.
Methods For Improving A Company’s Image
In order to overcome reputation challenges on the web, there are a number of solutions that can be attempted. While no one solution is designed to surmount all reputation management challenges, a varied approach can often bring about better results.
Perhaps the most common and powerful method of countering negative press online is to post positive content. This can be done through blogs and other forms of content that get indexed by search engines. The purpose of doing this is to have positive content reach audiences above negative content when a company is searched for on the web. While posting positive content can be effective, the amount of content required can be substantial, and the quality of backlinks needs to be accounted for in order to overcome content presented by reputable news sites.
Leaving positive online reviews or responding to negative reviews are other methods of reputation management that can be helpful. While you don’t want to leave outright false reviews, countering negative comments on review sites or product pages from digital storefronts can have a beneficial effect. The trouble with this method is that most review sites and storefronts require some type of registration and possibly even verification before reviews or replies can be made. This can be time-consuming if you plan to leave multiple counteractive reviews or replies.
Paying influencers can be another strategy to improve a company’s reputation. Social media influencers have the potential to reach millions of consumers, and because they have the trust of followers, their word carries a lot of weight. Influencers, however, can come and go, and attaching your brand to an influencer can be a risky proposition since you may not have as much control over the influencer’s future endorsements as you would like.