Faryn is a marketing geek who has worked in the industry since 2008. She advocates an integrated marketing approach and enjoys helping her clients enhance their online presence. When she’s not watching TV commercials for fun, she likes to play fetch with her rescue dog Chase, partake in board sports either on lakes or mountains, and drink good wine.

Other posts by:

Online Reputation Management: Avoiding the Trolls

MatrixTrollLast month the internet witnessed one of the most epic social media fails by a business to date. If you haven’t heard about the online downfall of Amy’s Baking Co. you are missing out. The business was featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares May 10 and will go down in history as the first ever business to be abandoned by the sharp tongued chef.

While the TV episode was hard to tear your eyes from, the social media circus that followed was downright addicting. Amy’s Baking Co.’s Facebook page gained nearly 20,000 new followers in the first two days after the episode aired, and now sits with more than 104,000 likes. Although some of the crazier posts from the owners have been removed, the Amy’s Baking Co.  Facebook and Twitter pages still offer plenty of laughs.

While many people revelled in the unprofessional melt-down that unfolded over the week, we began to think about the way companies manage their delicate online reputations.  A company’s online reputation has the same, if not more, of an impact on customers in today’s digital world. Much like meeting a person for the first time,  you only have a few seconds to make the best impression online. One advantage of social media is the direct access you have to your customers, and consistently using social platforms creates invaluable customer interactions that traditional marketing cannot duplicate. However, improper use can quickly result in a PR nightmare.

So, what can you do to start building a positive reputation online? We have a few tips:

1. Claim your online space

Facebook, Yelp, and Google+ places business pages can be created without consent from a business.  This means customers are reaching out to dead ends and taking your business’s reputation into their own hands. Claim your pages to start taking control.

2. Know how to treat your customers online

How you respond speaks volume about your business and your brand. Keep these general guidelines in mind when responding online:

  • Never be “sale-sy” or attach marketing messaging to a response
  • A simple thank-you is often enough
  • Be specific. Only refer to the customer’s experience
  • Never be rude, condescending, or disingenuous
  • Keep it short and sweet. Lengthy responses will most likely be ignored.

3. Take Integrated Marketing Campaigns online

Your business already has a recognizable presence offline, therefore it’s important to bring your brand online. Customers take visual cues from Facebook profile pictures, Twitter Avatars, and Yelp photos. Make sure your logo is sized appropriately, you upload recent images of your business, and ensure that sales promotions are updated to mirror offline marketing efforts.

4. Monitor Social Tools Regularly

The key in cultivating your online reputation is to dedicate time regularly to managing accounts. While each tool has its own best practices when it comes to usage, we suggest listening on platforms at all times via alerts (email or SMS) and responding as soon as possible. There are many tools to help manage your online profiles and make the task of monitoring much easier.

5. Respect the power of the internet

While Amy may have deleted some of her crazier posts, her entire meltdown has been immortalized in screen grabs. Always be aware that nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet. Nothing.

Online reputation management may seem straight forward, but  things can get complicated quickly. In general it’s best to keep it as simple a possible. Only talk about topics related to your industry, respond quickly and concisely to customers, utilize your offline brand reputation, and create a manageable schedule for monitoring activity. With a little persistence and patience your business will have a glowing online reputation that compliments its offline activity.