It's not impossible to rescue a bad reputation, but it takes time and energy. Far better to take steps now to maintain a good image. Here's how.
Building an online presence gives you the potential to reach web users throughout Asia and the rest of the world. It's never been easier to reach a huge, global audience and quickly increase your brand's exposure.
The drawback is of course that there will be a lot of eyes on you if you slip up. There's no doubt that a brand's reputation is one of its biggest assets, and your words and actions online will shape the opinions of your existing and potential customers. Once you've built a reputation, everything you do can either enhance or detract from it.
Make sure you protect your reputation and develop it in a positive manner. It's not impossible to rescue a bad reputation but it takes time and energy. Far better to take steps now to maintain a good image.
Listen and Learn
Do you know who's talking about you and what they are saying? If not, this needs to be your first step in managing your reputation. Use an alerts service such as the ones provided by Google and Yahoo to be notified when your company or brand name is mentioned. This will help you not only to monitor feedback but will also give you a chance to respond. You can also subscribe to alerts in multiple languages. If your brand isn't well-known yet, and others are more likely to talk about your product by describing it, be sure to add alerts for keywords in the relevant languages too.
Keep an Eye on Different Platforms
Search engine alerts will get you started in finding articles or blogs where you get a mention, but these days many online conversations take place on social networks. Which ones you need to monitor depends on where your customers are located. Unless you are marketing exclusively to China, Facebook and Twitter will be at the top of the list. The 2012 World Map of Social Networks shows Facebook dominating even more of Asia. In fact, Asia now has more active Facebook users than Europe or North America. Google+ has also been adopted by web users around the world and had a high take-up by users in India and Singapore right from the start. Qzone, Sina Weibo, and Renren all need to be on your radar if you do business with China.
Don't just take a passive look at these sites. Maintain active accounts in English plus your other business languages in order to build social networks for your business. This allows you to actively join the conversation when people are discussing your products or company. Offer helpful tips, advice, or offer to solve problems and you will build a reputation as a business that cares about its customers. You can also actively promote via these platforms, but never spam your users or you may find your social circle quickly shrinks.
Developing an online reputation can involve dealing with challenges. The good news is that, if handled well, these challenges give you a chance to demonstrate that your business is trustworthy and efficient. On the other hand, ignoring unhappy customers only makes them more frustrated. If they take those frustrations to YouTube, Mixi, or Weibo, you could end up being the talk of the web for all the wrong reasons.
Make it easy for people to give you feedback, whether good or bad. This includes customers who don't speak English. It might be tempting to try to filter everyone through your own website where you can keep tight control over what gets published, but it's the public nature of social networks that gives you a chance to shine. If you are responsive and treat your customers well, people will notice and your good reputation will grow.
Dealing With Negativity
Even if something goes wrong or your customer is hard to please, you show others what kind of business you run by the way you react. People will respect it if you can admit you are wrong and take steps to put right your mistakes. If instead you offer only excuses and half-hearted assistance, don't be surprised if a competitor offers your customer a better deal. Flickr recently profited in this way from the outrage caused by Instagram's change in terms of service, by offering a free three-month subscription to its rival network.
Remember, your online reputation is a valuable asset. Invest a little time in it and you could reap the rewards in customer confidence and loyalty.
Reputation image on home page via Shutterstock.
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