There are a lot of elements that go into building a successful brand. You’ve likely heard over and over again that branding is so much more than the visuals:
- You need to focus on your customers and gear your brand toward your target market.
- Branding is how people perceive your company.
- Branding is about strategy.
All of these statements are absolutely correct. If you want to build a successful brand, you must focus on these things, and a branding expert can help you figure it out.
But there’s something else we need to talk about when it comes to branding and for whatever reason, this aspect gets overlooked.
When it comes to building a business and a brand, your reputation is everything. In fact, I think it’s the most important aspect of building a brand. For some reason though, I rarely hear the word “reputation” when talking about branding.
If we’re looking to develop a certain image and target a certain customer, we need to manage our company’s reputation.
Below are things we need to pay attention to when it comes to reputation (and brand) management.
54.7% of people read at least 4 reviews before purchasing a product. This statistic proves that the majority of people are doing their research before making purchases and only want to purchase from companies that have a good reputation.
Reviews matter, which is why a lot of small business owners include getting positive reviews as a part of their overall brand and marketing strategy. Asking for reviews from your customers is a great way to build your reputation and trust. As a business owner, it’s important to not only ask for reviews but respond to the customers that leave them.
It’s important to respond to all reviews. Respond to positive reviews by thanking the customer. Respond to negative reviews, professionally, by acknowledging the complaint then letting your customers know what you did to resolve it.
More than reviews, people are interested in how you deal and interact with customers. Responding to reviews shows that you care about your reputation and customer service. Even if things go wrong, a professional response will go a long way in determining whether or not someone is willing to do business with you. I know, personally, I’m much more likely to patronize a business if I see the owner responds to reviews. It shows me that they care about their business and are actively trying to improve.
Another thing we need to discuss when it comes to reviews is the unfortunate fact that people buy fake reviews to try and boost their reputation and rankings. This is extremely common on Amazon but also happens on Google and Yelp as well.
For a very low cost, business owners can hire people (or sometimes robots) to write fake positive reviews for their business or products. This is often done to bury bad reviews in an attempt to “fix” a rating or just to try and draw attention to a company.
If you pay attention, these reviews can be easily spotted as fakes. They usually use very generic language and the “reviewers” often have weird or generic names.
Obviously, buying fake reviews is something that you should never do. It’s a sure way to kill your reputation if you ever get caught. But I bring this up because the fact that people buy fake reviews can have an impact on your business, even if you don’t participate in that nonsense.
Part of the fake review “service” is sometimes also leaving fake reviews for competitors. Meaning, if your competitor buys fake reviews for your business, you may end up with reviews from people that you’ve never worked with.
This happened to our sister company, Wicky Design. One day, we received a 4 star Google review from a person that we’ve never done business with.
We’ve attempted several times to get this review removed, but it’s extremely difficult to do so because Google deals with so many fake reviews. We’ve since learned that many business owners have had the same issue.
This is why responding to every review is so important. Even though the review is positive, we left a professional response saying that we’ve never worked together. Don’t let your reputation be impacted by fake reviews!
Comments are one thing that I don’t hear a lot about when it comes to branding and your company’s reputation. You’ll hear the phrase, “never read the comments” a lot in an attempt to help people from being harmed by bullies and trolls, but I don’t agree with that statement. You need to monitor your comments.
Letting the comments section go wild can have a serious impact on your brand. Unfortunately, trolls, bullies, and scam artists exist online, but it’s up to you to not let them exist in your space. You work hard to create content. If you let comments go crazy, people become focused on that and not the original message you were trying to convey. Do you want to be known as a company with a crazy comments section or a company with an awesome product or service?
I’m not suggesting that you block or remove anyone that disagrees with you. In fact, I encourage you to respond (professionally) to those people. That’s what comments are for. There’s nothing wrong with discussion or debate when it’s appropriate. It’s when you let things get out of hand where the problem lies.
Comment management tips
- For newer companies, manually approve comments when you can to avoid spam or trolls.
- Remove any spam, hateful, troll comments.
- Block problematic users from commenting again.
- Do not respond to trolls or bullies. Simply remove their comment and move on. Their entire objective is to get you to respond. Don’t give them the satifaction of a response.
- If things get out of hand, turn comments off.
Social Media Communities
Social media management is more than just coming up with content to promote your brand. The way you manage your social media interactions will have a serious effect on your reputation.
Community management tips
- Respond to comments and questions people have on your posts.
- Check your DMs and messges. Many people like reaching out through social media and giving no response will lead to frustration. Prefer another form of communication? Be upfront and let your customers know.
- Similar to comment management, block and remove anyone that causes problems on your pages or groups.
Personal Social Media Profiles
The last thing we need to talk about regarding your brand’s reputation is personal social media profiles. You are the face of your business., so it’s important to keep a professional image on social media.
We live in a day and age where everyone shares their lives and opinions online. It’s important to remember that what gets shared will absolutely be seen by people that may want to do business with you. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, your opinions may not be the same as your customer’s. When you’re trying to grow your business, the last thing you want is a social media post costing you customers.
This isn’t to say you’re not allowed to have fun, but you have to remember that as a small business owner, you have a greater responsibility to be professional than someone that is just an employee at a company (although, employees should act professionally as well!) Take time to consider what you’re posting to social media before you post it.