Many businesses have had to pivot in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting from generating leads at industry events or nurturing contacts at face to face meetings to cultivating fee-generation in online-only spaces, with their digital profile arguably never more important in sustaining them.
Despite non-essential shops re-opening, retail is changed too, so as shopping excursions are expected to remain socially distanced and somewhat uncomfortable for several months at least, how will the luxury brand maintain those special touches when most of its customers’ experiences will likely now be online?
Now more than ever, businesses must ensure their online profiles – in all their multi-channel glory – cut through the noise and provide that enhanced experience on the journey to converting customers. Online reputation management encompasses so much more than a regularly updated website and it isn’t all about sales – today the key to generating consideration and conversions is building trust through other channels, adding value, and committing time and resource to doing this well.
Building trust as a brand is so often about getting others to talk about you – and simply, making sure that what they’re saying is good – while crafting an experience they can’t find elsewhere.
Invest in your social channels and securing high quality, online PR coverage that not only talks about your products, but your values, your vision, your ethics and your philanthropic contributions. Tell a story – create, live and breathe the brand persona – and make sure this is actually reflected in practice. Too many brands have been caught grandstanding when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement recently, professing to listen, learn and take forward more inclusive practices, while being called out online by ex-employees and customers with stories of them doing the opposite and having behaved poorly. This is incredibly damaging.
So what does good, bad and the very bad look like when it comes to online reputation and profile?
The good – Astrid & Miyu
Not only does Astrid & Miyu have an established large consumer based social media following and fanbase, but whilst its shops have been closed throughout lockdown, founder Connie Nam has made it her mission to create an engaging customer experience online, replacing the usual face to face affair, as well as supporting new businesses through her accelerator programme for retail start-ups.
Through a targeted online profiling programme spanning news releases and thought leadership across national, regional and trade publications, alongside appearances on business to business podcasts and webinars, Connie is boosting her profile and reputation as a business owner and a mentor, providing advice and expertise to other entrepreneurs with businesses less than five years old to help them combat their particular pain points.
And on top of all that, Astrid & Miyu recently launched the second season of its AM After Hours Podcast, talking to the likes of Ohne, Yougi Botanicals and Core Collective yoga teacher Jess Learoyd, providing its audience with new, interesting, relevant content and aligning itself with brands known for honesty, transparency and integrity, consequently reflecting its own values.
Targeting both consumers and businesses, A&M is a real all-rounder nailing its digital profile.
The bad – Brands boycotting Facebook
Facebook is an excellent platform for advertising, gaining brand exposure and creating loyal followers. It holds more user data than Google and is the most cost-effective way to get in front of a lot of people. And you’d think after the scrutiny it came under with regard to Brexit, the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg would be keen on making sure Facebook is a safe place, free of hate speech.
And I suppose Facebook thought that precisely because it has so much data and can reach so many people it wouldn’t matter.
Again, not so.
It seems brands have had enough and are indeed, putting their money where their mouth is. Aware that funding a platform so weakly committed to democracy and the prevention of hate speech with their advertising dollars will reflect badly on their own reputations, while pulling their spend would boost them, Unilever, North Face, Patagonia, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Lululemon and Jansport joined the more than 100 other brands boycotting advertising on Facebook.
Facebook makes about 98% of its $70bn in annual revenue from advertising. Unilever’s decision to pull its spend (the first brand to do so) was covered in every major international publication, and it’s hurt Facebook dearly, sending stocks tumbling by a whopping 7%.
The downright ugly – Anthropologie’s hypocrisy
Anthropologie is a clear lesson in practicing what you preach. It was one of countless brands to speak up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at the beginning of June, but it didn’t take long for current and former employees from across the globe to call out the retailer in public in comments across its social media channels, revealing nicknames they were told to use in racially profiling customers. As well as this, the brand has been slammed for cultural appropriation and a lack of black collaborators on the books despite many of its designs reflecting those created by BAME artists.
A quick Google of ‘Anthropologie’ pulls up a Daily Mail article covering this car-crash. On page one. That isn’t what you want to be on page one of Google for. The brand now hasn’t posted on its global Instagram account since 11 June, presumably because it cannot counter the backlash in the comments.
Good luck re-building your rep’, Anthro.
As social and environmental movements have gained pace throughout lockdown, consumers and business customers are expecting more from brands – it’s no longer just enough to say you do something. You actually have to do it. And you have to show you’re doing it online to have a chance of standing up to your competition.
Definition can help you make more of digital, boosting your profile and enhancing your reputation, generating sales leads whilst telling your story, whatever your objectives.