How to rebuild your online reputation

Organizations often damage their online reputation with interruption marketing tactics. When this happens brand engagement plummets, fans flee, and prospects treat your company like a leper.  If this has happened to you, fear not!  You can rebuild your online reputation.  It is not easy, it won’t happen overnight, but it can be done.

The road to recovery starts with answering these three questions.

How did this happen?

You are in the old business. My uncle was the partner in an Atlanta ad agency during the 70s and 80s. Before that he worked with DDB.  They were great at creating mass marketing ad campaigns.  They were designed to get in front of as many eyeballs as they could as often as they could. Relevance was not a high priority. Interruption, frequency, and persuasion were the order of the day.

What did you do wrong?

You SPAMMED. You may not have meant to, but you did. If social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin are broadcast channels for you to pitch your widgets and services, you are doing it wrong.  If your blog is filled with self promotion and  “me monster” talk, you are doing it wrong.

How do you fix it?

Step one: Ask for forgiveness and rebuild trust and respect. Forgiveness is completely in the hands of the offended. You cannot buy it or demand it. Forgiveness also deals with the past. It is only good for things already done. Let people know you are sorry in a sincere, specific way (not in a fake, ambiguous, politician/celebrity way). Start the long journey of rebuilding trust and respect. This is not easy and takes time. Just because you changed overnight doesn’t mean your community will change quickly. Humility, generosity, and honesty will be your guide. Unlike forgiveness, trust and respect can be earned. You can restore and build these important currencies.

Step two: Listen more and talk less. Nothing will help you improve communications with your prospects and customers like listening. You will learn what they want and what problems they have. You will learn where they are and who they associate with. This information will allow you to improve your interactions and make connections with the right people. There are paid listening tools like ScoutLabs, Radian 6, Sysomos, or SAS to name a few.  Start with Google alerts and blog search, Twitter search, and Backtype. You could create a survey for your email list.

Step three: Give value. You have made the decision and turned a new leaf. Use the data from listening and help your community. Begin your brand’s new life as one that contributes relevant valuable content to its communities. Look for ways to promote others and highlight the good work of your people. Start a meaningful email “newsletter” to a subscriber base. Focus on high touch vs. high-tech strategies that build relationships.

Remember this takes patience, but you will get there.  Swallow your pride and seek forgiveness.  Take your eyes off of yourself and focus on others.  With a little time you can reinvent your organization. You can learn from your mistakes so you never repeat them.

Your thoughts?

photo credit: misterbisson

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