As the world struggles to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, those who want to keep their businesses afloat must proactively manage their online reputation.
An online consumer survey shows that 97% of consumers perform an online search when looking for a business.
If you have a bad online reputation, then this can prove detrimental to your business. This is because 70% of consumers avoid buying products or services from brands they do not like, or those with negative online reviews.
With a great shift in consumer behavior and operational guidelines, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more important for brands to re-evaluate their online reputation management strategies.
This article is designed to help businesses manage their online reputation and protect their brand during this health crisis.
7 ways to manage your online reputation amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Your online reputation is always evolving. Every social media comment, online review, or blog post redefines how the online community views you. As a business, it is crucial to ensure your brand is presented in the best light.
Here are seven actionable tips to improve your online reputation amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Keep customers informed with business updates
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed business operations across the world. It has affected operational hours, delivery options, and item pick-up. In some locations, the pandemic has resulted in temporary store closures.
Every business should keep customers in the loop by updating their availability. This includes marking business listings on Google as unavailable and eliminating inaccuracies that may lead to confusion. It is also important to revise business contact information. For different locations and departments. In the case of service suspensions, customers can easily reach out and receive a relevant update.
All vital business updates should be communicated across the brand’s social media accounts to ensure every customer is informed.
2. Monitor COVID-19 related reviews and respond promptly with empathy
A report on reputational risks shows that one in every three businesses view negative social media posts as the greatest threat to their reputation.
A similar report also shows that 51% of businesses have been affected by negative online reviews at some point. These statistics are a clear indication that how you handle online reviews can have a highly positive or equally negative effect on your reputation.
In the time of a global crisis, businesses should put in place a comprehensive strategy for responding to reviews. This involves adjusting your response techniques to ensure they are calm, transparent, and reflect empathy. They should show that your company really cares about the public.
By demonstrating that you place customers at the heart of your business processes, it will be easier to build long-term loyalty. Conversely, brands that neglect customer reviews hurt their credibility and damage their trust.
3. Engage customers across different platforms
Most businesses are receiving an influx of concerns and questions surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. This presents a chance for businesses to improve their reputation by answering these questions with timely and accurate information. By providing what your audience is looking for, you position your business as an authority in a particular field.
The corporate social responsibility of a business plays an important role in establishing a positive reputation. As such, you should focus on contributing to questions on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more.
An active blog that allows customers to comment or leave feedback is another great way to enhance engagement and strengthen customer relationships.
4. Provide customer feedback at the location level
Operational guidelines related to COVID-19 vary depending on the geographical location. The regulations enforced in one city or state are completely different from another. For this reason, businesses should analyse location-level data to derive actionable insights. This data will shed light on how customers in a particular region are faring, which in turn helps the business come up with specific strategies to help the most vulnerable.
Paying attention to location-level feedback is also important when resolving issues affecting a specific location. For instance, if a particular business outlet isn’t communicating operational hours or product availability, you can leverage location-data to address this problem and ensure your customers are satisfied.
5. Share informative content on your website as well as social platforms
Highly reputable brands focus on constantly sharing informative content with the online community. In the wake of COVID-19, educational content is even more important. Businesses should ensure that their local landing pages provide valuable resources that help customers respond to this health crisis. Apart from landing pages, you can publish Google posts and blog content, which include corporate messaging, product availability, or even special services that will be of help to the public.
Another way to make your posts more valuable is by providing helpful links to the WHO, CDC, and other reputable health organisations. Ideally, you can link to your local government’s health website or any other body responsible for managing COVID-19 in your country.
The bottom line here is publishing engaging content that will keep your readers informed on the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. Join the social media conversation around COVID-19
Every business should ensure that their brand’s social media strategy includes a COVID-19 crisis management component. Ideally, the sales and marketing departments should provide active emergency contacts, communication channels, and steps to follow in COVID-19 management.
It is crucial for organisations to pin COVID-19 related announcements at the top of their web pages and social media profiles. The social media teams should frequently engage consumers in coronavirus issues and stay consistent across all social platforms.
7. Communicate your commitment to customers
Businesses need to reassure their customers as well as employees by demonstrating their commitment to protecting them in times of adversity. As mentioned above, one way of showing commitment is sharing updated business information. By doing this, businesses can avoid customer frustration and confusion.
Additionally, you should clearly outline the steps your brand is taking to help contain the virus as well as mitigate its social and economic impact.
It takes years to build a solid reputation. However, the dame reputation can be tarnished in a matter of seconds. So, use the above tips to build a strong relationship with your customer base. If the pandemic caught you off guard, it’s not too late to learn from your mistakes and catch up.
Finally, it is important to prepare for the post-COVID 19 crisis. Although the pandemic won’t last forever, its impact is already hitting businesses and economies around the world.
Business owners who want to come out stronger after the pandemic must think about the impact of their actions even long after the crisis is gone.