As a brand marketer, one of your main obligation is to keep your brand’s reputation pristine at all costs. But this doesn’t mean you should direct all your efforts to the brighter side of the cyberspace. Those who thrive in the dark side of the Internet, a.k.a trolls, bashers, haters or whatever you call them, could swallow your brand like a black hole if you exclude them on your watch list. Dealing with vitriolic criticism is a big part of online reputation repair, and while it’s good to act fast, you must ensure that all your tactics will not backfire or thrust your brand into downward spiral. Remember what happened to Amy’s Baking Company?
Responding to online bashers is tantamount to good customer relationship. Adversity makes for great publicity, they say, and this aphorism turns out to be true as a this study suggests that responding to online bashers could work not just in bringing back unhappy customers but also in transforming them into brand advocates. Online bashers are a low-hanging fruit but surely the opportunities are endless once you’re able to win their approval. When and how to deal with them requires a careful process. Observing for too long won’t do your campaign any good and so is directly lashing them online. So where do you begin?
It’s a golden rule to address the concern before it gains momentum and roars out of control. An adversarial or reactive strike is an option, but it just gives bashers more ammo to fire back. A proactive approach to online reputation repair is your best bet. This doesn’t center around hitting the reply button with an automated message. A proactive approach involves:
• A customer-centric public relations strategy that cuts across all media channels including offline marketing platforms like conference or public forum
• Populating positive postings in social media outlets — be cautious with this strategy or else Google will serve you with violations that could cause your brand’s online demise.
• Link-building strategies including regular updates on high-ranking assets such as blog and social media sites — Again, the same Google caveat applies here.
• Marketing virtues — Trolls could drain your patience, but keep your eyes on the prize and deal with them in a way that will help you gain more followers who respect your brand.
• Learn when to shut up — Not every negative mention deserves a response. Sometimes, it’s better to walk away to avoid causing more backlash.
A proactive approach runs a rather finite cycle. Those who never stay complacent and are active in their online reputation campaign even before a marketing disaster strikes often win the game.