Reputation management: How your reputation affects applicants

An interview with Christian Tembrink, Managing Director of the online marketing agency netspirits.

Mr Tembrink, what is the meaning of the term reputation management?

It’s about the reputation that a company has, about how it is seen by the public. As a customer, I ask myself: Can I shop here, is this a reliable company? If I pay online, will I get my goods? As for the employer, the question is this: is this a good employer, can you work there well? These days, people search online for a company name in combination with that company’s profile on the employer portal kununu or the business network Xing. They hope to get an authentic picture of the employer, which is not just painted by advertising language. Facebook can also be a source to find out about a company’s reputation online and is especially popular among younger applicants.

How do you get rid of a bad name?

What you should know: Google’s „MyBusiness“ automatically creates an industry entry for each company. The entry bundles information about the business and also all evaluations that already exist for the company in the network. Users can also direct questions to the company through the Google interface. The questions are sent to the company via e-mail, usually via the info @ address. If a company has not requested ownership for its listing, the questions end up in Nirvana. Potential applicants are, of course, annoyed that they do not receive an answer from the company. The feature has been around for about half a year, and many companies are not even aware, that reviews and questions of users need to be moderated on Google’s MyBusiness platform.

Before I can take care of critical reviews and questions, I have to know they exist first. This is only possible through regular monitoring of common platforms and requires a certain amount of time. But nowadays, you cannot afford to just ignore what’s happening online. The portal, for example, is fighting with negative entries on kununu. Turning around a negative reputation is not so easy. So, dear companies: actively create a great digital appearance & reputation – also for your applicants!

If negative comments on the company have already been published, it makes sense to respond to them. For example, on Facebook or Google, comments can be labeled as „inappropriate“. With a bit of luck, then someone will get on Facebook or Google and delete the entries. My recommendation, however, is to be thankful for the openness of the users and to be friendly and professional to respond to the entries. Often the angry comments only have little truth in them, so it is difficult to find out where the trouble comes from. For instance, you could come across a comment like „very stupid company, I cannot recommend!“ and you would not know what to do with it. A nice, constructive way of dealing with such utterances is often the best way. For example, you could say, „We are sorry that you are upset. Please give us a chance to improve by telling us exactly what went wrong.“ This is how the company signals that the concerns of customers and potential applicants are being taken seriously and handled professionally. Third parties can also read the reaction and thus gain a picture of the tone of communication of the company. That often helps a lot.

A bad reputation is bad. To have no reputation, can be just as damaging. Some companies have great training programmes that nobody knows about. What can they do to become visible?

I have an example from our own company. Our apprentice Milena, who started her apprenticeship at netspirits two years ago, reports on her apprenticeship in the company blog. She talks about what she learns in her professional life, how things go in college and what does in her free time. This is not a marketing spell but the blog is really in her hands.

Producing content of this kind is one way to attract attention. Another possibility would be to ask applicants who have not got the apprenticeship position to rate their impression of the application process on kununu. Of course, people who you think were satisfied with the process should be contacted.

You can also ask colleagues to share their experiences as an employee on kununu. If you do not want to produce the content on platforms like kununu or Xing, you can focus on your own career page. Once you have a blog that is updated regularly, you can also „increase its volume“ by pushing it on social media. With specific geotargeting e.g. the effect can be especially big. By the way, a second apprentice will start with us soon, who actually applied because she liked Milena’s blog so much.

Christian Tembrink is one of the leading specialists for online marketing campaigns in Germany. As the founder of the netspirits online marketing agency, he has been designing online strategies for companies for more than 6 years. He is the author of „The book on successful online marketing with YouTube“. On September 4, 2018, Tembrink will speak at the Flügge Congress for New Apprentice Marketing about how to gain the trust of potential apprentices through influencers and video content.

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