The online presence of a company imposes different reflections that concern, on the one hand, the tools used for its activities on the web, and on the other hand, the subjects that, for different reasons, can affect the company’s web reputation with their actions.
The online reputation of a company, in fact, derives directly from the combination of several factors, some internal, such as the way in which marketing activities are carried out, others completely external, such as user reviews and reactions; precisely because of these factors, the company must adopt specific tools and strategies depending on the element considered.
Marketing actions: the company will identify the marketing strategies to be adopted and their operational methods; these are actions that, according to specific characteristics, could affect the company’s web reputation because, for example, they are criticised and not shared by users;
Specific tools: The company can adopt different marketing tools to promote the company’s brand, such as storytelling or diversified advertising campaigns. This promotion could also have an effect on the company’s online reputation because, for example, it could unknowingly bring to light major criticalities incompatible with the brand.
For example, if you are a consulting firm that offers privacy compliance services and adopts marketing strategies to promote your services, you may have a non-compliant website.
In this case, the company’s web reputation would be irreparably compromised.
Protection tools: The company must adopt a protection strategy that is bidirectional, i.e., aimed not only at managing critical issues arising directly from online users, but also at preventing those that can be linked to internal users.
It is important to remember that while it is not possible to prevent certain actions, such as criticism or negative comments from users, the company may want to create effective procedures for the prevention and proper management of possible problems.
Indeed, a company’s web reputation is also closely linked to the way in which crisis situations are handled and managed.
With this in mind, the company will need to prepare:
• An internal policy for employees that regulates how they use social networks and their online activities, so as to be in line with the company mission, the brand and the values it conveys. This correspondence is critical to corporate reputation, because it directly affects user perception in relation to the corporate brand, especially in cases where the individual employee is associated with the brand for which he or she works.
• A policy for the management of online presence, identifying tasks and subjects in charge of the implementation, publication and management of the contents to be conveyed through the network, envisaging procedures to be followed both for approval and publication.
Everything that is shared on the web directly by the company, or which is in any way related to it, has a significant impact on the creation of online reputation.
Having pre-established procedures that regulate this activity means monitoring everything that is directly shared by the company, both in terms of content and sharing modalities (think, for example, of the importance of the tone of voice adopted in the various communications to be conveyed).
An internal policy for the management of any criticalities that may occur online (social media crises, negative comments and reviews, etc.), also in this case identifying the parties authorised to intervene, the procedures and timing of intervention.
The correct management of criticalities allows the company to maintain and protect its web reputation from wrong actions, which could generate irreversible damages.
How to organise and improve web reputation
The web reputation, as mentioned above, is created through a careful selection of the activities to be carried out on the web, the content to be shared and the operating methods.
Obtaining a qualified web reputation is not an easy process and, above all, cannot be done quickly.
It is a pathway involving different steps that include, on the one hand, the constant monitoring of online activity around the brand, and, on the other, the specific management of the actions carried out directly by the company on the web.
In particular, the company will need to focus on a few elements, namely:
• Constant monitoring of its online presence: this makes it possible to evaluate the perception of the brand by users, and based on the analysis carried out, to modify the strategies or change them completely if they prove to be ineffective or have a negative impact on the company’s web reputation;
• Constant monitoring of the conversations that are created around the brand: the continuous monitoring of user conversations allows the company to intervene effectively and promptly when a critical issue arises. In this hypothesis, targeted and immediate action makes it possible to avoid or limit the negative effects of a possible social media crisis.
• Division of tasks and identification of specific competences. In order to protect its web reputation, the company must first of all identify the reference figures to whom it can entrust itself based on specific competences and assign individual activities to them. In particular, three different aspects will need to be evaluated:
Web community manager. The drafting, publication and management of content should be assigned to a qualified individual with specific skills in managing online presence. In addition, the tasks to be carried out by the same must be identified in a specific and detailed manner, together with timeframes and procedures. The company that decides, for various reasons, to rely on an inexperienced or unqualified person, risks seeing its web reputation irreparably compromised by errors that, if committed online, precisely because of the mechanism of the network, can have a disruptive effect on its reputation.
Publication procedure: the company must agree with the party responsible for online publication on a procedure that envisages, for the protection of the company itself, prior approval of what is shared on the network. This can take place in a variety of forms, and may even be absent if the company decides to rely entirely on its own social media manager. However, inserting a provision of this type in the internal policy means reserving the possibility to control content and prevent any issues that may create inevitable problems and complications online, with consequent additional management activities.
Crisis management procedure: as mentioned above, in order to correctly manage its web reputation, the company must adopt an internal policy regarding social media crises; in other words, at the moment of maximum criticality, it must have a well-defined and specific plan of action that makes it possible to:
Identify the subject (or subjects) authorised to intervene: this makes it possible to have the correct reference person for crisis management.
Adopt a single course of action that is consistent with the values promoted by the company: this limits the possible negative effects resulting from the intervention of a different party (e.g. an employee).
Identify methods and timing for interventions