Although building your online following and converting sales should be the focus of most firms’ online strategy, one in five now says that ‘firefighting’ is a bigger priority than anything else. That’s according to a new study commissioned by Igniyte, a UK-based online reputation management firm.
Bad reviews, malicious comments and ill-perceived social media posts are threatening many companies’ digital reputation, which can cost them sales and diminish their commercial value. But two thirds of respondents said they don’t have the specialist knowledge to address the problem of negative online content – now the number one concern for an astounding three quarters of British firms.
52 per cent of those surveyed say they’ve already suffered a loss due to damaging posts, with bad content causing average losses of £46,815. One in ten estimate even bigger losses of between £50,000 and £100,000 directly because of bad online content.
Often the most damage results from disparaging comments created by competitors – a significant problem for 43 per cent of respondents – while further negativity from former employees affects 42 per cent of firms. And while keeping tabs on the online behaviour of existing employees can prove tedious, a third of bosses feel their online reputation is at risk if they don’t implement a firm-wide social media policy.
What the customer thinks is also important, as demonstrated by the 41 per cent of companies that say poor reviews are causing financial distress. And 17 per cent of respondents have struggled because customer or competitor criticism has leaked into the media.
However, taking control of your online presence can lead to significant growth, with 88 per cent of the total 500 UK business leaders surveyed agreeing that a positive online presence is the key to winning customers’ respect.
“Companies work hard to stake a claim in the digital space but once you have that presence how do you police it? When posts can be made and shared within seconds, how can you maintain a positive online reputation?” says Igniyte director Caroline Skipsey. “What this research shows very clearly is the damaging effect negative online content can have and the high cost to reputations and businesses.”
Employing a social media specialist to audit your online channels, manage website comments, monitor external social media activity and track successful transactions will help you manage your online reputation and convert more click-throughs into sales. Investing in quality control now will lead to bigger returns in the future – with respect to both your finances and your reputation.