How important is your company’s online reputation? Many companies are seeing the impact of online reviews for their business, especially considering the search engines look to this information to rank your website. It can be tough as a small business to keep track of the endless review sites, too. So how do you manage your online reputation appropriately? Check out these four strategies below.
1) Explore and Strategize – Before you jump into creating your social media accounts, STOP. Just like other areas of your business like finance, accounting, and operations, you have to plan first. Consider the basics here. What are your goals with your online reputation? Who is your target audience? Which online channels (including social media sites) make sense for your business? Are you ready to deal with negative feedback about your products/services? This strategy is by far the most imperative. If you cannot nail down the fundamentals, how will you press forward?
2) Observe and Pay Attention – After you have created your initial plan, you need to do further research on the online environment of your industry, which involves noting what consumers are saying about your business and your competitors. By keeping a watchful eye on what is currently being said, then you will be better informed for your upcoming conversations with existing and prospective customers online. When you can speak the language of your target audience, then they are more likely to pay attention and listen to what you have to say.
3) Initiate Conversation – Whether you choose to setup a Facebook page or Twitter account, the simple principle remains the same: become a leader. In other words, don’t stand in the corner waiting for a consumer to take the lead in the conversation. You are the business, right? Then act like it. How can you be a leader?
- Prioritize - You should develop a schedule for how and when you will communicate with your intended audience. A great idea is to correlate your communications with upcoming events and press releases, so everything is in sync and consistent.
- Make a Commitment – Don’t forget that we are all human and expect to be treated as such. If you decide to post on Facebook for example, remember to respond to any questions or concerns that arise. When you don’t respond, your fan base loses respect for your business and turns elsewhere. By not responding online, your followers will probably assume your online behavior will reflect in the same way offline.
- Be Clear – Whenever you post online (again, in any online channel), don’t forget that you are representing your business. So when you want to straighten up any misconceptions or respond to a potential customer, make sure to state you are the owner (or whoever is responding) of the company. You could also include your email address or phone number to make yourself readily available if someone wants to contact you directly.
4) Turning Negativity Into Positivity – Such a big concern regarding online reputation is negative press. To handle negative feedback, it is best to respond immediately (this goes back to strategy #2). The sooner you can resolve conflict, the better it is for your business. Take a look at the following example from Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.:
Clearly, Capital Bikeshare’s quick response was not only transparent, but also included an apology. Always apologize because the customer is always right. Lastly, don’t ignore any negative feedback. It is best to face opposition head on and turn negativity into positivity.
How is your company protecting its online reputation? Share your thoughts in a comment!
About Alan Moore: Alan is an Internet Marketing Consultant with ReachLocal Baltimore. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $1.4 million in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call at (877)655-3438 to schedule a free consultation.
Looking for additional examples? Check out http://mashable.com/2011/10/15/protect-small-business-reputation-online/c