In the past, business reputations were dependent on word-of-mouth or ad campaigns expertly crafted by marketing firms. In the age of social media, it is critical that organizations build and manage their online reputations. Companies should manage their online reputations not only to increase profitability and establish themselves in the market, but also to attract and retain quality employees.
A Glassdoor survey shows that 95 percent of job seekers, especially millennials, factor an employer's reputation into their decision-makingA survey by Corporate Responsibility Magazine demonstrates the importance of reputation. They found that 76 percent of people, even those who are unemployed, will decline a job offer from a company with a bad reputation. Half of applicants said they would accept an offer only if they received a significant pay increase. In contrast, 93 percent of currently employed people would jump ship to work for a company with a good reputation.
Business is difficult and expensive to conduct with a bad reputation. A CareerArc poll found that only 1 in 5 applicants would consider working for a company with a 1-star rating. Lost productivity as a result of ineffective recruiting efforts and employee turnover can impact a business beyond lost sales.
The following five steps will help establish an online brand and maintain a good reputation.
1. First Things First
In 2019, every business should have a website. Your website is the basis for your online reputation. Customers and job seekers gain information about your company "straight from the horse's mouth”on your site . It should be easy to navigate and have contact information for your business.
If you haven’t already, set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn page, and if you think they will be helpful, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Then make sure that people know that these pages and accounts exist! People use social media over any other method when they want to reach a company for questions or comments.
Assign responsibility for these social media accounts to a trustworthy employee. This person becomes the "voice" of the organization and will be responsible for updating and maintaining each account. A key role for this employee is to act as the company's advocate when responding to customer inquiries or complaints online. Give your social media manager guidelines for what is appropriate to share for your company. Many resources are available online to help guide content creation and customer interactions. Maintaining your company's online reputation also requires awareness of and adherence to the company’s internal values.
2. Establish Your Employer Brand
During their job search, candidates will conduct an online search of your company to see what comes up. Make sure the search returns lots of places for them to learn about you as an employer, helping them form a positive impression. A lack of information says one of three things: you don’t care about your reputation, you have something to hide, or there’s nothing worth sharing. Top talent will not flock to your company if they cannot learn anything about you before applying.
Use strategic online messaging to convey your employer brand. Just as you designed and presented a brand to gain customers, you need the same plan to attract job seekers. Top talent finds and follows companies that have great employer brands online. Show off your leadership, employees, team-building moments, and values and beliefs to provide job seekers a look at your company culture.
3. Request and Respond to Feedback
Customers today expect a direct line to the business through social media or web applications. Your social media manager should constantly be on the lookout for customer questions or concerns. Accept criticism while quickly addressing issues. A thoughtless response could damage your reputation more than staying silent. There are social media monitoring services available to consolidate and evaluate the type of feedback your company is receiving.
It's also important to ask customers for their thoughts, same as you would in a survey or focus group. By being proactive, you can manage the conversation and swiftly respond to feedback. Thank people who leave kind words; work with people who are critical of your company. Open a dialogue with your toughest criticsto see if they have potential solutions to fix the issue. A proactive stance signals to the customers that their opinions are valuable to the company—a certain reputation booster!
4. Observe and Address Online Reviews
Customer reviews are like the feedback described above, but hosted on a third-party website or app. These are often the most obvious indicators of a company's reputation. Customers can praise or shame any business in a public setting. Many consumers trust reviews to guide their decisions, but the reviews aren’t always accurate. As much as 60 percent of reviews may even be fake. It can be difficult to remove fake online reviews, so responding to negative ones is paramount. Also, it takes between 10 to 12 positive reviews to offset a single bad one.
Glassdoor’s research indicates responding to every review on their sites results in an average of a 5 percent higher employer rating. Responding quickly shows top talent you care about what they think.
5. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Regular monitoring of your online reputation and a proactive strategy for proper responses is a must-do. Companies that invest in corporate reputation management can prevent many negative reputation issues by identifying and addressing emerging trends. You should amplify positive feedback by sharing posts on your own social media accounts. Mitigate negative feedback by responding appropriately which may mean no response at all. The goal of monitoring is to eliminate being surprised by public responses to your company’s operations and decisions.