Proactive Reputation Management Tips from PubCon 2011

We loved the Proactive Reputation Management session with Tony Wright at PubCon today…and thought we’d share some of the highlights with you!

As the founder and CEO of WrightIMC, Tony’s been consulting on reputation management for 14 years and really had some great insight to share on the topic. Here’s what we took away:

Why Would Someone Ruin Your Reputation Online?

Most people really aren’t out to ruin your online reputation. Okay, there may be a few, but the majority of people just want to let their friends know about their experience with a business—it’s not because they like or don’t like your brand.

Why Do People Complain Online?

There are numerous reasons that may incite someone to complain online about a business. But the top two reasons people rant online is because:

  1. They feel part of a community (31%)
  2. They gain recognition from their peers (28%)

This tells us that people do not want to be alone in their experience. They want to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves and that they are not powerless. Misery loves company, and there’s a whole community of complainers for disgruntled consumers to join online. It may also indicate that people want to be seen as someone their friends look to for advice and information as they seek recognition from their peers.

Keep in mind that the average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family and co-workers.

Why Do People Listen to Online Complaints?

People listen to online complaints primarily because they trust these unsolicited reviews over advertisements or a company’s controlled message. Businesses can say a whole lot about who they are and what they do, but consumers want to know, “Is it true?”

Some interesting stats Tony mentioned regarding this:

  • 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know
  • 70% of consumers trust opinions of unknown users

That’s a whole lot of folks believing opinions people have about your business.

What can you do to Manage Your Online Reputation?

The first step to managing your online reputation is understanding that the future of the Web is user-generated content. Don’t let that scare you. Let it inspire you to learn how to engage consumers so that they become your army of unsolicited marketers.

So how do you do that? Well, you have to understand the landscape. You need to be aware of blogs, the SERPs, reviews, message boards, hate websites, Twitter, location-based sites (i.e., foursquare, gowalla) and social bookmarking sites. Unfortunately, there is no one tool to monitor all of this. But, don’t worry. That just means you need to develop a plan to proactively monitor your brand.

Monitoring your brand and maintaining your reputation is really a company project. Everyone in your company needs to know that they influence your online reputation, so they should be made aware of your expectations and how you would like them to portray your company.

Make sure you have people dedicated to monitoring various channels so that you can respond to criticism and praise accordingly. You have to monitor reviews manually—and in real time. Holding annual seminars and rewarding employees who are mentioned in positive reviews is a great way to keep people excited about managing your company’s reputation online.

I have Negative Reviews Online. Help!

Negative reviews need to be taken in stride. If all of your reviews are positive, it doesn’t look authentic. Remember, businesses are run by people and people make mistakes. It’s okay. Tony recommended that businesses strive for at least 70% of their reviews to be positive. If you find yourself struggling to reach that percentage, ask your satisfied customer to leave reviews. Most people are happy to do this.

When you receive negative reviews (notice we didn’t say ‘if’), Tony recommends dealing with them offline.

As you can see, this was an information-rich session with tons of valuable tidbits on being proactive with your online reputation management.