As word-of-mouth continues to change, it is more important than ever to assure the reputation of your business online is as good, if not better than it is online. The majority of consumers are using the internet to find information on products and services. In Feb 2011, Inc. Magazine reported that, “Nearly half of consumers use a combination of search and social media to fuel their purchasing decisions…” Any negative information that a potential consumer could find about your business could lead to a loss of sales. By managing the online reputation of your business, you are avoiding the potential loss of business. To help with this process, here are five tips to help you manage the online reputation of your business.
- Monitor Social Media and the Search Engines: Unsatisfied customers go straight to Social Media to voice their complaints these days and it’s usually before they contact your company to try and fix their issue first. Staying on top of conversations concerning your company will allow you to interject and attempt to solve the issue publicly. There have been many examples of companies successfully reaching out to upset customers through social media to fix their problems. Reconciling their issue as publicly as you can will show their friends that your company stands behind their products and services.
- Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs In One Social Media Basket: From Search Engines to Social Networks, there are a lot of places people can find information about your business. Have a presence on all of the popular social networks and create positive content about your products and services on your website in the form of articles or a blog. Video content posted to sites like Youtube also give you an opportunity to showcase what you offer.
- Do Not Get Into Arguments Online: When you argue with one of your consumers online it becomes public record. Other people can watch as you try to defend yourself rather than defend your customer. Nobody wants to do business with someone who comes across selfish. If the matter can not be dealt with in a positive manor online, end the online conversation with an opportunity to talk to the consumer directly. Make sure that you do handle their situation so that if they decide to return to the conversation online, the have nothing else negative to add.
- Promote the Reviews Your Customers Leave: We all understand that self-promotion is not always the best way to go, but when your customers leave positive reviews of your business online, you should do whatever you can to get those reviews to the eyes of more customers. You can embed reviews you have received in your website, quote them on other social networks or even print them out for others to see. When your customers review your business, encourage them to share their reviews on their own social media profiles.
- Monitor Related Search Results to your Business: Make sure you are on top of what your customers see when they search for your business, your competitors business and anything else related to your business. Dig down a few pages past the first search result page. Take advantage of a free service from Google called Google Alerts. You can set up specific alerts that can be sent to your email every time your business, website or other keywords are mentioned online.
Being a business owner or manager is much more involved than it used to be. Making sure your numbers are scaling in a positive direction will involve keeping track of what others are saying. The sphere of influence each of us have is much larger than it used to be. Information travels fast and once it’s moving, it is harder to stop. Your online presence should start with your website, not your social media. From your website, your web presence should extend out to social media, forums and other online communities. Being proactive rather than reactive.