Basically, your online reputation is the image that Internet users have of you and your e-store. This includes how much people know about you, what they know about you and what they think. Your online reputation helps you stand out from the competition and is a factor in building your brand. Managing your e-reputation can be challenging as it means managing everything external to your e-store (like customer/blogger opinions and negative incidents). But you can still anticipate what may happen, preparing for any event that could have a negative impact on your online reputation. This is what we’re looking at today.
I- Adopt a good market monitoring system
Alexandre Villeneuve, co-author of the French book, E-Réputation: Stratégies d’influence sur Internet says, «All e-tailers who have a young target market should pay close attention to what they’re doing, because these Internet users have hundreds of friends on social networks and exercise a lot of influence. » , An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: so be aware of what they’re saying about you and your online store. Here are a few tips to help you:
a- Use the simple – and free – tools available
The social networks are a good place to start. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are among the networks acting as platforms for Internet users to freely express themselves. Your customers enjoy sharing ideas on these networks, so don’t hesitate to check them out daily, not just to add content, but to see what your customers and fans are saying about you. You can respond to their comments quickly, avoiding the spread of negative publicity, and encouraging positive publicity.
Use RSS feed readers as well. They help you group and organise the RSS feeds you subscribe to, so you can receive information from your favourite websites daily without going to each of them of them separately. That way you can easily stay up-to-date on information about your own site and your retail sector.
Among the most well known and easy-to-use RSS feed readers is Google Reader. It’s free so don’t hesitate to use and abuse it!
b- Use key-word alert services
For example, Alerte Google which is also free and easy to use. You simply select a group of key words or terms related to your business (« e-tailer » for example) to add to the search terms request, and enter your email address. Then you’ll be alerted by email as soon as a new result (blog article, news item, video) appears on the Internet. You won’t need to troll the web looking for new information – it will come to you! Thanks to this useful tool, you can also keep an eye on the competition, and that’s always a good idea!
c- Use specialist agencies
If your budget allows for it, you could always use agencies that specialise in monitoring the market for you. They will also manage any negative publicity that you may attract.
II- Play an active role!
Plus vous êtes actifs sur Internet, plus les internautes parleront de vous et commenteront ce que vous faites. Une solution pour améliorer votre e-réputation rapidement ! Ne soyez pas donc passif, n’attendez pas que cela vous tombe dessus…
a- Play an active role on the social networks
The more active you are on the Internet, the more internet users will talk about you and comment on what you’re doing. That’s one way to quickly improve your online reputation. So don’t wait until something happens to react – get ahead of the game!
b- Think about press relations
Post photos, answer your fans, update your status, etc. The more you show yourself, the more positive your fans will be about you! So play an active role and create a buzz around your business by including them in the daily life of your brand (with competitions and games, new items they might want to buy, etc.).
c- Stand up for your values and convictions
It’s a good idea to clearly state your e-store’s core values. Do you sell environmentally sound products? Say it loud and proud! Are your products organic? Highlight this fact on your site!
For example, Faguo Shoes, a shoe e-tailer, clearly displays their commitment to the environment on their site.
Faguo shoes'commitment to the environment
But remember, it’s important to maintain integrity: if you waver in your public values, you risk staining your online reputation! So don’t sell values that you don’t really have.
III- Move quickly to deal with attacks
If you discover negative comments regarding your brand, you must deal with them quickly! By defending your policies and explaining your side of the story, you will be able to limit the damage.
Negative publicity can be turned around in your favour. For example, the e-tailer La Reroute recently created an accidental buzz when a naked man was spotted in the background of a catalogue photo of children playing on the beach. When the photo was published on the Internet, it went viral but La Reroute was there immediately to withdraw the photo and apologise on Twitter. The brand went even farther with the idea when a month later, they proposed a ‘find the mistake’ game in their catalogue. La Reroute used their initial mistake to create even more free publicity, and it worked!
In conclusion, keep in mind that you can’t be certain what will happen tomorrow, but you can anticipate it! So stay alert and regularly check out what your community, your customers or the press is saying about you. Managing your e-store’s online reputation is a major priority!