What do Beyoncé, Kate Middleton, and Harrison Ford have in common? Other than having devoted fan bases, they’re celebrities who have a reputation for giving very few interviews. They control their messaging tightly.
While Beyoncé and Kate Middleton choose to go directly to their fan bases with highly choreographed messaging through their social media channels, Harrison Ford is one of only a very few celebrities who isn’t on social media at all.
However, whether or not they choose to connect with their fans online, none of these celebrities can stop the millions of rabid fans who run fan accounts, who post to Reddit and Instagram, and who analyze their every move through YouTube videos and blog posts.
Why does this matter for you and your business?
Just like celebrities, the rise of fan culture on the internet has fueled both a huge boom in brands’ abilities to control their own reputations, as well as the decentralization of where reputation management lies.
We are now able to build communities of like-minded customers and brand-fans. With that comes responsibility of monitoring a growing array of websites and spaces where brands rate products, review services, comment, and ask for help.
“The rating trusted most by consumers is 4 stars followed by 4.5 and 5 stars,” according to review software company ReviewTrackers.
Many years ago, I worked for a well known arts & crafts brand. At that time, the company I worked for gave the ability to customers to rate and review patterns (the directions consumers would use to create their craft projects), but not the products themselves.
The thinking was that we didn’t want the companies’ own products to have negative reviews. And yet, study after study shows that a few negative reviews actually bolster trust in reviews overall. Furthermore, customers tend to trust relatively positive reviews most (see above quote from ReviewTrackers).
What brands must do is not only encourage reviews with open arms, but encourage customers to look at positive reviews as social proof. Today, that same company has embraced product reviews both on their website and in their digital marketing efforts.
And this goes beyond B2C brands. Brands as wide ranging as US Bank, the fifth largest commercial bank in the US whose reviews are mostly on Google My Business, to DeSantis Breindel, a New York City-based branding consultancy whose reviews are on platforms like Clutch (both brands are clients of Convince & Convert) are not only monitoring and responding to reviews, but also using reviews to feed their marketing efforts (see below).
“39 percent of social media complainers who expect a reply want it to come within sixty minutes, yet the average response time from businesses is five hours,” found research by Jay Baer and Edison Research.
In 2016, C&C founder Jay Baer wrote, “Haters are not your problem….Ignoring them is.” That reality is more true now than ever before.
Customers expect help with their issues, and when you don’t respond to negative reviews, your prospective customers will hold you accountable for that inaction.
To positively impact your reputation, treat reviews as an opportunity for customer service and excellent customer experience. Respond to your reviews; add context; thank brand fans and address fan haters.
“Word of mouth is directly responsible for 19% of all purchases, and influences as much as 90%,” says the book Talk Triggers by Jay Baer and senior strategist Daniel Lemin.
Outside of owned review channels, brands must monitor reviews and conversations on channels from Facebook and Reddit to the bumper crop of industry-specific review sites such as Zocdoc and Healthgrades.
Using monitoring tools like Meltwater and Sprinklr helps brands to stay on top of what’s being said. Beyond sentiment and topics, brands must make sure that they are leveraging the built-in AI to analyze conversations for trends to keep on top of what their proactive messaging needs to be.
Not sure how to leverage these social listening tools to uncover this data? Consulting firms like Premium Blend can help to build strong queries and implement effective listening processes.
Again, it’s not just knowing what people are saying, but also using this data to shape what your brand should be talking about to be relevant to your customer base.
Reputation management is the reactive part of our work, but we also have the opportunity for reputation marketing. Leverage the stories that your customers are telling about you to market your products/services to prospective customers.
Whether you’re aggregating real customer social media posts like Korean beauty brand Hanacure does on their @hanacureeffect Instagram account or you’re using a tool like SocialProve to pop-up notifications to website visitors that indicates when others have purchased on your website, you’re engaging in reputation marketing.
What are some ways that your brand can leverage customer stories as social proof?
Your customers are already out there talking about your brand—are you encouraging them to do so in the places that help you to strengthen your reputation? Are you showcasing the level of customer experience that your prospects can expect from your team? Are you reassuring prospects that others like them trust you?
That’s your opportunity with reputation management. Don’t waste it.