One of the most interesting things to come out of the social media age for marketers is the range of new reputation management techniques. There was a time when brand managers were content to say that any publicity is good publicity. Even if you were in the news because of a scandal, you did not need to worry because within a few days everyone would forget about the scandal itself, and all they would know is that they had heard your brand name “in the news”. The publicity helped to build a brand, and as long as the publicity was not too critical, the content of it was not an issue.
Those days are long gone thanks to the Internet. Today, the bad news is archived, searchable, and recallable forever. In addition, normal consumers have the power to write about their experiences with a brand and share their thoughts – good or bad, with anyone who will listen. This means that brand owners need to be quite proactive about managing their reputations.
Reputation management is mainly a job for people who have experience in working with social media and web 2.0 properties. It involves responding to social media posts, blogs, and reviews, thanking people for their feedback and working to resolve problems in the instances of people who posted highly critical posts. Online reputation management does not involve censorship. It is never a good idea to try to censor content online because it almost always ends with a huge backlash from the community.
If you notice that there is negative content about your brand floating around online, then instead of trying to censor it, you should try to improve your brand some other way. For example, you could register your brand name on all major web 2.0 properties and work to ensure that those websites sit at the top of the search engines when people look for your brand online. In addition, encourage loyal customers to post reviews so that there is a steady stream of positive (but honest) reviews of your company appearing online. Do not, under any circumstances, try to purchase reviews, because this is dishonest and it will have a huge negative impact on your brand if you get caught. In fact, many review sites heavily penalise owners that do this sort of thing. Encourage honest reviews, and let the quality of your products and services do the talking.