Even though fear and misinformation can spread quickly online – particularly quickly with COVID-19 – there are steps you can take to effectively manage your online presence and defend your business’s reputation.
As coronavirus spreads throughout the U.S., it’s more important than ever for you to be the source of truth for concerned customers. The quicker you respond to any problems under your control, the better positioned you will be to contain this crisis.
Here are five steps you can take to manage your online reputation during this health emergency, by informing your customers and protecting your brand.
1. Update Your Listings and Hours
Take the time to check on your listings across Google, social media, review sites and other platforms. Across almost all industries, the four main Google ranking signals remain consistent: name, categories, website URL and Google reviews.
Keep your listings updated with any changed hours, service suspensions or revised contact information for each department or location. To assist on listings with business closures and revised hours, Google CEO Sandar Pichai recently announced Google Search and Maps will show if a place or a business is temporarily closed.
Check your Google My Business dashboard to make sure customers are clicking through to the correct website or landing page, depending on your products or services. It’s also important during this crisis to remove inaccurate business listings wherever they arise, to avoid any confusion and to establish your brand as an authority for information or treatment.
For a full breakdown of steps toward managing your listings during the COVID-19 health crisis, read this checklist.
2. Monitor Reviews About COVID-19 and Respond with Empathy
Even during times of crisis, your customers are talking about your business online. This valuable feedback can offer insights into the consumer’s point of view and can reveal adjustments needed for your business operations as you navigate this challenging time.
To stay informed of what customers are saying across all your locations, it is best to implement a comprehensive review response strategy, if you do not have one in place. Adjust your response techniques as needed, remembering to reply calmly and transparently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensure your team has corporate-approved, templated responses that they can adjust quickly as circumstances change while ensuring brand continuity across your communications.
If you neglect to respond to your reviews in a timely manner, you risk hurting your brand’s credibility and damaging trust, which comes at a premium during an emergency. In industries like healthcare, where you can’t respond to some reviews online without breaching patient confidentiality, create a strategy to take the conversation offline.
Take the opportunity to guide commenters to the correct department or point of contact – doing so will help resolve their problem and inform future consumers with similar inquiries.
In a recent blog post, we dive into what consumers and caregivers are saying online, and how organizations can respond.
3. Engage Customers Across Platforms
Amid constant concerns and questions surrounding COVID-19, businesses of all kinds are receiving an influx of questions on the local level.
Prepare to answer these questions on Google Q&A and other platforms with the timely and accurate information that consumers are looking for. If you don’t have too many locations to keep track of, you can set up email alerts for new questions on Google Q&A. If you have dozens of locations, you might consider using a listings management vendor or software solution.
In addition to FAQs on third-party directories, make sure to update your physician profile pages to make sure searchers are aware of your providers’ specialties, services and hours.
4. Join the Social Media Conversation Around COVID-19
Does your social media policy include a crisis communications component? Marketing departments should outline roles and responsibilities, steps to follow, communication channels, emergency contacts and social media log-in details to stay prepared.
It’s crucial to understand your audience and the social media platforms they are using to communicate about COVID-19. Be prepared to respond to negative reviews or comments, and stay consistent with your messaging across all social media platforms. Organizations should also consider pinning a coronavirus announcement or link to the top of their profiles.
You can use social media to engage consumers in short, frequent communications, and also to humanize your business operations. Before engaging, make sure to update and optimize business pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms.
5. Publish Educational, Informative Content
Control the online narrative by publishing hyperlocal, informative content to your website and third-party listings. Your local landing pages are valuable resources for customers to learn important information regarding each location. They should be updated frequently as circumstances change throughout the crisis response.
Your business should also consider publishing Google Posts and other short content with recent announcements and relevant information, such as links to CDC and WHO information about coronavirus. These posts may include corporate messaging, limited product availability, or special services that are of critical importance to the public.
Here are some tips on keeping Google fed with content that educates and informs your communities, which in turn builds your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis.
We wish you and your teams the best during this critical moment for the healthcare industry. We are here to help your customer experience teams and marketing operations with anything you need, so please reach out with any questions or concerns.
Note: Join our upcoming webinar on Thursday, March 26 for information on the online conversation surrounding COVID-19 and how healthcare organizations can respond. Register here.
Read more on managing your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Coronavirus: What Consumers, Patients, and Caregivers are Saying Online and How Healthcare Organizations Can Respond
- Coronavirus and Your Listings Management Program: A 5 Item Checklist
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist