Do you know what your business reputation is online…?
If you answer no to the above, then you are not alone! Many business owners are equally in the same shoes with you.
For many years now, online reputation management (ORM) and repair has been a large part of online marketing. Several businesses have had to devote many man-hours repairing their reputation.
If a business neglects to develop their online presence and reputation proactively, they may find that they pay the price later in lost revenues, and additional man-hours repairing damage and developing a presence that they neglected.
Any business that is closely tied to the identities of their founders, the name of their executive officers may be another area of reputation that needs to be proactively managed.
While many executives avoid social media because they have chosen to keep a low profile, having no online reputation built around their name, they may also be sitting ducks for reputation damage if someone decides to post something negative about them.
While under-engaging in online media is bad, handling social media badly can be much worse…
Nobody can cause as much damage as you can if you do not know what you are doing. Many entrepreneurs and employees of small businesses develop a case of over-confidence, possibly because many people who open small businesses find they have to become jacks-of-all-trades in order to be able to run the business effectively.
However, the ability to create a great product and do everything necessary to manage and run a small business does not automatically make business owners effective communicators, especially on the Internet. With this in mind, below are 11 helpful tips to help business owners successfully manage their online reputation.
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1. Set up and monitor social media accounts for your business
At the very least, your company should have a Twitter, Facebook and Google+ account. For many high-tech, B2B and other professional businesses, you may also want to set up a Linkedin account. If you sell visually oriented products, Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram may also be useful. Finally, if you want to benefit from shared videos, consider Vimeo and/or YouTube.
2. Don’t turn these accounts into graveyards
Simply having social media accounts is not enough. Once you have them set up, it is important you build them to develop your audience. Use your social media accounts to interact with customers and increase your influence.
3. Consider brand and product names
If you have specific brand or product names, you may want to develop web pages, social media profiles and materials to help claim and reserve those names.
4. Protect individuals associated with your business
Develop a social media presence for the names of your owners, founders and executives, especially if their names are unique.
5. Read posts and reviews carefully
Typically, the first reaction to a bad review is to get mad, or to argue. However, neither approach is productive. Instead, read the review as carefully as possible. It may be raising a problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.
6. Resolve any issue raised as soon as feasible
If there has been a negative review, address the issue and find out what the problem was that caused it. This will allow you to turn a potential disaster into an opportunity to connect with existing and potential customers.
7. Start a business blog
Blogging can greatly help with site’s rankings and provides content for social media accounts. It can also help to build and maintain your company’s reputation and give you a platform where you can respond to any allegations made about your company.
8. Listen with an open mind
When you respond to bad reviews or online complaints, remember to listen to what your customers are saying with an open mind. You may find that there is a weakness in your company that needs addressing. Always try to be flexible, and come up with creative ways to give your customers what they want without creating more problems.
9. Own up to your fault and apologize
If you, or your company does something wrong, own up to it and make a genuine apology. This can quickly help to diffuse a situation and move the process towards a speedy solution.
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10. Be professional in response
It doesn’t matter how bad the review is, show your class by thanking the reviewer. Write a short note of appreciation, thanking them for taking the time to provide feedback. If you take the time to be professional and personal, your response may actually gain some new customers for your business.
11. Make an investment in your Reputation Management
Developing and maintaining a social media reputation requires an investment in both time and money. Many small businesses either ignore reputation management completely, or attempt to do it themselves on a shoestring budget and an as needed, or as time allows basis.
Prevention is better than cure… this also holds true for online reputation management!
Even if you have not had any issues online, preventing it is much cheaper than repairing it. It makes sense to apply the tips in this article and have a monitoring plan in place.
While proactive online reputation management may cost a little to set up and put in place, it will save you time and money in the end. Your online reputation is very important. With so many consumers reading, posting and sharing business reviews on websites such as Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare, it is critical that every business manages and monitors their online reviews, as they play a major part in shaping your business reputation.
Finally, if you do not have adequate experience interacting with online communities, doing it yourself may not be the best idea. If you do not have the experience, or time to do it properly, or simply don’t know how, make an investment and hire an online reputation management service to take care of it for you.