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It might be the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean your brand’s reputation should take a back seat. In fact, avoiding public relationship gaffes is more important at this time of year than any other. After all, the Christmas period sees an average of over 19% of all sales throughout the year, and that’s not something any brand should ignore.

In many ways, the holiday season is much the same as any other time of year with regards to protecting your reputation. However, while business processes might not change, managing your reputation will be much more intense as consumers struggle to get their Christmas shopping done in time and buy the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Indeed, the holiday season can seem like the proverbial minefield when it comes to avoiding raising ire among your customers.

#1. Invest in Your Staff

A successful organization is driven by employees that are motivated enough to do everything they can to satisfy your customers. To that end, the reputation of your brand is largely in the hands of your staff. During busy periods such as the run up to the holidays, however, increased demand can quickly lead to problems which, in turn, translate into damage to your reputation.

Short staffing leads to short tempers, particularly when customers find themselves faced with longer query and support resolution times. Likewise, when employees find themselves spending lots of extra hours struggling to handle impossibly large workloads, productivity and motivation will take a major hit. This, in turn, can cause a domino effect that will take your reputation down with it.

#2. Stay Social

As usual, your company website will probably be the hub of your online activity throughout the holiday season. However, that doesn’t mean you can forget about your other online platforms. Consumers tend to be more active on social media than at any other time of year as they look out for those perfect gift ideas and special promotions to make their shopping sprees go that bit smoother.

Continuing with your content generation and social media marketing strategy is especially important during the holiday season. However, you’ll also want to adapt your strategy for the time of year. Customers want to believe that you’re in touch with their needs, so think about publishing holiday buyers’ guides and other seasonal content.

#3. Keep Up with Reviews

Whether you like it or not, online reviews and other user-generated content are here to stay. In fact, they’re now the bread and butter of modern business. In fact, 88% of consumers now trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. As the holiday season is a time of increased sales, you’ll want to use the opportunity to ask people to leave reviews and share their experiences on their favorite social networks. After all, the holiday season is one of generosity and happiness, so there’s no better time to tap into the potential of online reviews.

Asking people to leave reviews is one thing, but even more important is to remain attentive to what people are saying about you online. While happy customers are more likely to leave a glowing review during the holiday season, unhappy ones are equally likely to leave a negative review. A single bad review can have a devastating ripple effect on your reputation, so you’ll need to be ready to deal with negative content as soon as it appears online.

#4. Monitor Everything

The holiday season is a time of year when online chatter reaches its height. On Facebook and Twitter, people are exchanging gift ideas and recommendations. At the same time, review websites and blogs are busy publishing buyer’s guides. Brands are busy rolling out their holiday promotions and decorating their websites to suit the season. It’s a time of fast-paced excitement for everyone, and that means you should be at the top of your game when it comes to monitoring what people are saying about you online.

Online reputation monitoring allows you to keep one step ahead of your competitors and maintain a degree of control over your brand’s image. This allows you to isolate and mitigate damage from bad reviews before they have a chance to turn the season of joy into one of despair. At the same time, you’ll instantly know whether a comment is negative or positive and gain a better understanding of how your target audience feels about your brand.