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Managing a reputation in the digital age can be a marketer’s nightmare. Sometimes, despite a company’s best efforts, an unfortunate situation occurs and causes seemingly irreparable damage. So, what do you do after your brand is “canceled” or you’ve become the meme of the week?
Here’s how to rebuild your business’s online reputation after a mistake.
Have Negative Content Removed
The first step in rebuilding your company’s reputation is to have harmful or defamatory content removed. This step can be incredibly challenging in the age of viral social media posts and screenshots. However, you can work with Google to have content removed from the SERP.
If you’re at a loss for how to get harmful content removed, work with a service like Defamation Defenders to manage reviews and defamatory content. Outsourcing this task to the experts can help you focus on the core business while your reputation is being restored.
Focus On Positive Content Building
The next step in restoring your reputation is to replace negative content with positive content. Revamp your SEO and social media marketing strategy to control the narrative and shift the focus to more positive, valuable subject matter.
SEO — search engine optimization — is what marketers use to create content that ranks on the SERP. By targeting specific keywords with positive brand associations, you can replace negative content on a SERP with the information you want to be associated with your brand.
During this period, it’s also worth considering your company’s role in the community. Identify how you can give back and highlight those PR efforts on your social feeds.
Implement Social Listening
When repairing your online reputation, you’ll discover that your progress isn’t linear. You might have a few weeks of positive interactions, then a new spin on an old story will resurface online. Some brands experience positive PR for years, only to have something from the past get discovered and become an issue 10 years later.
Social listening is a strategy for monitoring what people are saying about you online. Using tools and alert systems, you can trigger alarms for specific keywords associated with your brand. These triggers could be anything from your product to your brand name to your CEO’s name.
It’s integral to act fast when rebuilding an online reputation. Getting ahead of these aftershocks and managing them quickly will help you restore your reputation more effectively.
Know When To Take Ownership
The only thing that makes customers and online audience members angrier than a mistake is a cover-up. It’s vital for companies to know how and when to apologize or take ownership for a mistake. Rather than highlighting all the reasons why you messed up, people want to see your company say, “We know we made a mistake, we’re sorry, here’s what we’re doing to regain your trust.”
The latest incident with Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a prime example of what happens when a company doesn’t take ownership of its mistake. Someone responded to the initial complaint of finding shrimp tails in their cereal by politely saying that the customer is wrong and the sugar had simply hardened into the familiar shape.
There was no acknowledgment of making a mistake or that shellfish allergies are a severe concern. Had the Cinnamon Toast Crunch customer service team apologized and launched an investigation immediately, the story likely would have died down in a few days. Instead, the issue became a viral meme. Only time will tell how effectively they repair their reputation.
The key takeaway is that taking ownership is a must.
Create an Action Plan
Whether you’re repairing a damaged reputation or preparing for a worst-case scenario, having an action plan is a must. Outline what steps need to happen to repair your reputation and what you’d do differently if this situation were to happen again.
With these simple considerations, you can start the process of repairing a damaged reputation.