We work hard to run an honest business and build a good brand, but there will be times when even the most sincere brands will face a disgruntled and unsatisfied customer. In the olden days this customer would write angry letters to the CEO, and spread the bad word about your brand and services through his network of friends and peers. The damage they could do as an individual was relatively low.
Today, this customer can easily start a negative blog about your company (e.g. yourbrand.blogspot.com), or initiate a new topic on a public forum to trash your brand, and even use the services of online customer complaint websites like ripoffreport, complaintsboard etc to hit you where it hurts most.
Now not all negative publicity starts with the customer, your brand could easily be a victim of a brand-hijacking or spam attack orchestrated by your competitor to drag your goodwill down the drain.
Either way, your brand image and reputation online is at stake here.
How does this affect my brand?
Today online buyers of products, services or information, often search for your brand name to check for negative reports and previous complaints before deciding to do business with you. So when a potential customer is searching for your brand, other than finding your website, he will find the negative branding and complaints as well listed on the search results page.
Search engines give a lot of ranking prominence to complaints, and to sites like ripoffreport.com etc to protect their users from the many fraudulent brands and ill-managed companies online. Since these complaint sites have a high page rank and reputation, they are often misused and can cause damage to your brand reputation.
An easy way to check if your brand is under “attack” is to type your brand name, or brand name.com in the search box and see the results. You can also track your brand reputation by setting up a Google Alert for your brand name/s, so when there is any news about your brand, you get the information immediately, and can take corrective action.
What to do when facing negative publicity? Is preparation is better than cure
1. Assuming you are a sincere company, first always try to talk to the customer and see if you can sort out the problem, even if the customer has already been taking extra effort to spoil your brand reputation. Something it’s as simple as listening to your customer’s complaints and trying to resolve them can make the bad publicity go away like a bad dream. Plus you have a happy customer now, who will be more than eager to retract their negative comments from their personal blog, public forum or complaints sites.
2. If the customer is not responding to your requests to make peace, then try and reduce the affect of the negative comments by telling your side of the story, with a little peace offering (discount coupon, gift certificate etc) for the irritate customer. Other users will see this as a positive thing – that your brand is willing to take an extra step to resolve issues with unhappy customers.
3. Sometimes you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try, and it’s time to take corrective measures immediately. “The best way to beat negative publicity is to increase the positive publicity”.
4. Get your happy customers to give you a testimonial, and display the testimonials on your website and blog. People always say good things and bad things about any brand; the idea is to get more of the good stuff visible for other potential customers to see.
5. Creating great content that can rank highly will surely push the negative stuff further down the search listings.
6. Participate by writing on prominent article submissions sites like ezinearticles, articlesbase, goarticles etc. Create an account with your company name, and give your company profile in the space for author, and a neat link back to your website.
7. Build your social reputation by promoting your content across social bookmarking sites like dig, delicious, propeller, reddit, folkd, furl it, blink list etc.
8. Release some good PR using prominent PR submissions sites like PrWeb, and get your brand name in the title of the press releases. In addition if a journalist picks up your press release for his publication, that’s a ton of positive publicity right there.
9. Create mini-brands for your brand by creating your company profiles on websites like hubpages, squidoo, aboutus, wiki, facebook, twitter etc and participating actively in these communities.
10. Start a corporate blog. Other than search engines loving you for your content, you can use the blog to spread the good word about your company, while offering other useful information. Ask you existing customers to take a satisfaction poll on the blog?
11. Create innovative videos of your promos, how to resources, training videos etc and submit to sites like YouTube. If you videos become popular, then your brand becomes popular.
12. Hire an Expert SEO, or a SEO company thats has the experience and understanding to manage your brand reputataion online.
13. Preparation is better than Cure. Even if your brand is safe right now from negative attacks, don’t wait till it happens. Use the ideas listed above to build a better brand and a stronger brand online. Start today!