The holidays are upon us, but before you head off to your company’s annual party, remember this: your reputation never takes a holiday. That means whether you’re working with holiday customers, managing holiday marketing, or on your best behavior at a company celebration, you should continue to keep your reputation in mind. Here are 7 ways you can work to maintain — and improve — your reputation over the holiday season.

  • Be careful not to overshare: The holidays mean spending more time with loved ones, and often, sharing photos of children, holiday parties, and other seasonal events. Most of these photos are welcome and appropriate, but be careful not to share too much. If you overdid it at a holiday party, make sure there’s not any photo or video evidence of your big night out online. It’s also a good idea to use discretion when posting photos of your loved ones online.
  • Stay on top of brand conversations: With shopping reaching its year end peak, you can be sure that people are talking about your company online. But is it the conversation you want them to have? Make sure you’re checking in on review sites, social media, and elsewhere online to know what’s being said about your company. Be proactive about responding to all reviews, and be sure to showcase any especially positive feedback you may receive. It’s also important to make sure your social media accounts stay active and that you have staff ready to respond to messages and requests.
  • Ramp up your local search presence: More shoppers are buying holiday gifts online these days, but there are still many that prefer to shop in person, especially those that are shopping last minute. If you’re a local business, now is the time to improve your reputation on local search terms. Make sure your business is on Google+ and Yelp, and that you have adequate positive reviews to attract new customers. Don’t have an established list of reviews? Ask for them! Contact your customers to encourage them to leave their feedback for others to find.
  • Go the extra mile for your customers: This is a stressful time of year, both for businesses and consumers. That means as a business, you have the opportunity to step it up and impress your customers. Be the hero this holiday season with excellent customer service, easy exchanges, and positive interactions that will have your customers writing positive reviews and sharing your great reputation. Anything you can do to reduce hassle and improve service is a win for your company. Call in extra staff, practice holiday-specific training with customer service employees, and never hesitate to quickly apologize and resolve problems with customers.
  • Remember your employees: How you treat your employees is a reflection of your company’s reputation — and it directly impacts productivity and what employees say about your company. This year, we’ve seen significant public outrage over businesses forcing their employees to work on major holidays. And as Inc. points out, it’s not really a good idea to require employees to work over the holidays anyway. Often, employees have little productivity on these days, it kills morale enough to encourage heavy turnover, and on top of that? Your reputation is likely to suffer. Some companies have even been called out as Ebenezer Scrooges. Preserve your reputation by taking care of your employees this holiday season with time off, and even better: consider bonuses that will have them spreading positive word of mouth about your company.
  • Say thank you: Don’t forget to share gratitude this holiday season. Make sure to let your clients, business partners, staff, vendors, and other essential individuals and companies know that you genuinely appreciate them. These are the people who support you year round: make sure you’re showing them how valuable they are to you with a small token of thanks or a heartfelt note.
  • Get through the office holiday party without incident: Company holiday parties are a fun time to relax and celebrate with coworkers and employees, but be careful not to get too casual. Unwelcome flirting, gossiping, drinking too much, wearing revealing attire, or simply overdoing it are surefire ways to tarnish your reputation. Remember that even though it’s a party, it’s still a work function, and you should be on your best behavior. Watch what you’re saying, avoiding touchy subjects, and of course, keep drinking to a minimum.

Happy holidays from all of us at ReputationManagement.com, and thank you for a great 2014. We’re looking forward to sharing more reputation resources and advice in the coming new year!