Is it important for startups to know what customers think about their business? Regardless of the industry, people will have something to say about a company—online and offline. Reputation management keeps your online reputation in check and conversations about your company positive.
Remember that Pepsi ad when Kendall Jenner led a peaceful protest that ended with her handing out a Pepsi to a policeman? The advertisement’s overarching intention was seemingly harmless; however, people on social media were having none of it.
It sparked controversy online because it came out as tone-deaf to a serious issue on police brutality that triggered the Black Lives Matter movement. Pepsi management has since then apologized and removed the content after receiving severe backlash from the public.
Marketing blunders such as this rarely happen. But when they do, it may cost the company the trust and favorable perception from customers. In today’s digital landscape, most people rely on the internet for just about anything, especially for their product or service needs.
They scour review sites, social media, and other digital platforms to check out feedback and ratings from other customers to help them with their buying decisions.
Hence, it’s only reasonable to take extra measures at protecting your company’s reputation. By using reputation management strategies, you can safeguard your company against difficult crises; and rebuild trust and credibility with customers.
What is Reputation Management?
Essentially, reputation management is the practice of monitoring and controlling the public reputation of a person or organization. It seeks to influence public perception of an individual’s or organization’s brand by shaping the online information about them.
It used to be public relations jargon, but the explosion of the Internet and social media has contributed to its growth in the industry. With online reputation management (ORM), a person or brand manages their search results in different digital platforms such as social media, online forums, and search results.
On the other hand, offline reputation management controls the public image of the said entity outside of the digital environment. This can be in the form of print media, press releases, corporate social responsibility, and others.
Why is Reputation Management important?
In a perfect world, your startup would meet the needs of its target customers. Your employees, investors, and customers are happy with your brand and what it has to offer. But in reality, things don’t always work out as expected.
You might make a wrong business decision that will not sit well with other people. What’s worse is that your competitors will capitalize on your downfall.
A great reputation will boost your popularity and trust score with customers. Here are compelling reasons why your startup should get onboard with reputation management as soon as possible.
Build trust and credibility
There’s a good reason people flock to online reviews and forums before committing to paying for a product or service. People want to know others’ opinions to help them make the right decision.
Moreover, they frequent these sites to evaluate whether they can relate to these brands; or whether the organization’s values align with theirs. Thus, it’s essential to gain the trust of your target customers.
Carving a good reputation in the industry means that your company is credible to do business with. Once you earn their trust, they will spread the word out to their network about how great your company is.
The more positive feedback or reviews you receive, the more potential customers you will attract. Even when competitors offer the same product or service, customers will remain loyal to you because they perceive your brand as honest and credible.
Create a positive image
An impressive corporate image is a valuable tool you can use to boost your startup’s branding. It makes you memorable and draws potential customers toward you. Also, people are likely to support and engage with a brand that has a favorable influence in the digital space.
When it comes to reputation management, the best strategies you can take are to promote your company honestly, implement customer experience management practices, and actively engage with your target audience.
Now let’s try to search “Nike” on Google. Scroll down the first few results you find. As of March 25, 2021, these are the top stories written about Nike.
If you’re the CEO of Nike, do you think these articles accurately represent Nike’s brand? If this ever happens to your startup, of course, you would want to bring it to your attention with your PR team.
In research done by Weber Shandwick, a top global marketing firm, roughly 63% of the global executives attribute their company’s market share to their overall reputation.
This simply means that having a good online reputation will boost public opinion about your organization. As a result, a favorable public perception can positively affect the company’s bottom line.
Hire top talent
One of the pillars of a successful startup is its employees. Hiring the right people for your team is essential if you want to sustain your company’s growth. Today, employers and recruitment specialists may find their potential candidates through social media platforms like LinkedIn.
Hence, a startup should not only have an online presence. They should maintain an online brand that’s professional and reputable if they want to attract top-tier talent. A solid reputation management policy will have a positive influence on the quality of people you hire.
Did you know that around 75% of candidates research a company’s reputation before applying for a job? This could mean that the reviews and feedback from old and existing employees may somehow influence an applicant’s decision to apply.
Of course, you can’t control the conversation about your brand. But you can choose the type of information you want to share online. So, tidy up your digital presence and keep your branding message clear, honest, and consistent across all online platforms.
Moreover, you should always prioritize your current employees’ welfare. It’s the best and cost-effective way to boost your reputation. Why? Because happy employees will most likely share their work experience with their friends and family.
There’s no doubt that customers will use trust as one of the metrics to choose one brand over the other. When customers trust your brand, it means that your company is reliable, which eventually translates into sales.
As prospective customers search about your company online, they won’t just see your website. They’ll also see reviews on comparison articles, influencers, or rating sites such as Yelp, comparing you with other competitors. If most of these search results are positive, this may convert casual visitors into real customers.
Another thing to consider is that there’s a high price to pay for a bad rep—your standing with investors. A poorly handled PR crisis can negatively impact its share price, eventually, its market value.
When Elon Musk tweeted “Tesla stock price too high” on Twitter, the shares of TSLA.O (Tesla) went down by 9%. It eroded around $13 billion of Tesla’s market value and almost $3 billion of Musk’s share. In contrast, reputation management practices could have prevented a drop in share price and market share.
Build a Positive Brand with Reputation Management
To clarify, reputation management is not about erasing negative feedback. Nor is it about posing a fake persona to win customers. It’s all about building a fair and authentic image of your company. It provides an opportunity to hold your startup accountable for mistakes or lapses in judgment.
Additionally, it helps preserve an accurate but positive public perception. Your customers appreciate and trust you even more because of how your company handles issues.
Best of all, you don’t need an exorbitant budget or hire a team dedicated to online reputation management. All you need is the time and willingness to regularly evaluate your reputation across different platforms.
Indeed, managing your business reputation is not easy, but it can be done. We suggest you talk to experts like Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson on how they’ve done it.
They are the hosts of a highly successful entrepreneurship podcast, Startup Hustle, and co-founders of Full Scale, an offshore software development firm in Kansas City. They can mentor you about launching a startup, leadership, sales, and crafting an extraordinary brand.
Contact us today so our team can start mobilizing your startup idea into action.