Getting Started with Online Reputation Management
Just like high school, like it or not, people are talking about you or your business online. And having a not-so-good reputation can put up a red flag to your potential customers and cost you, the business owner, sales. So what is a small business owner to do? Without having to hire an expensive PR firm, small business owners can master reputation management by learning these getting started steps.
Reputation Management Tips
Generating positive reviews is not only important in the digital era, it is crucial. Now, we’re not referring to the unethical act of posing as a customer and posting online reviews to sites, we are talking about building a positive list of reviews with solid credentials and testimonials so that they can be found online and used as a building block for your stellar business reputation.
Know What is Being Said about You
The most important step in getting started with your reputation management online is finding out “what” is being said about you. Visit google.com and search for “your company name reviews” or “your company name complaints”. The best places to regularly monitor your online reputation is by using Google Alerts, Twitter, and Social Search to keep on top of anything new regarding your online reputation. The faster you know about something negative (or positive) being said about your company, the better. So make it a habit to at least once a week monitor your business name and reputation online.
Respond to Reviews
Some reviews—even the negative ones—can be beneficial to your company IF you respond to them right away. Usually it is best to respond to a review within the same day after it has been posted online. Negative reviews can not be deleted, but if you respond to the complaint and apologize, then ask the customer to contact you offline so you can help to resolve their complaint. Although negative reviews are important, they are not the only ones that you should respond to. Anytime you receive a positive review, spend the time to comment with genuine and sincere appreciation. You can build a lasting relationship, encourage repeat business and encourage other happy customers to post positive reviews.
Ask for Positive Reviews
By working on how to address any negative reviews, you will learn that the best practice for reputation management is to obtain positive reviews. So how do you get positive reviews without sounding conceited? Ask for them. Be direct and sincere. State your request without hesitation when speaking to customers, post it on your website, blog or email campaigns. Ask happy customers to post a review with simple call-to-action such as, “Leave us a review on Yelp or Google Places.” Within a matter of weeks, it is realistic that your company could receive four 5-star reviews online.
Get involved in building a positive online reputation. It is simply a matter of asking.
- Print a card you can hand to customers when they leave your office or meetings with a gentle reminder to go online and leave a review.
- Thank your clients for being a customer, and ask them to leave a review if you have done a good job.
- Send loyal customers a postcard or email and ask them to go online and leave a review of their experience on a site such as Yelp or Google Places.
Claim your Business Listing
How are local online listings important and how are they important to your reputation? Local marketing online is crucial to the overall success of our business and should be part of your online marketing strategy. Claim your local listing with Yelp and don’t forget to claim your Google places listing to effectively monitor your company’s reputation on a regular basis.
After you have claimed your business listing, you can use that listing to display special offers or promotions, upload photos and videos about your products and services and even highlight customer reviews. By doing so, you will increase the amount of positive content people see about your business when they search for your company online.
Join Social Conversations
Now that you have the tools in place to monitor what is being said about your business, you can join in on the conversation. Add new customers to your network by adding them to your social network. Facebook recently implemented a new “timeline” format for Company Fan Pages and your Facebook admin can “see” who has recently “liked” your fan page. With a simple click, you can add send that person a friend request. If you have your customer’s email address, you can send them an “invitation to connect” in LinkedIn.
Comment on posts that pertain to your company, share their content, and write your own content. When writing and posting online, do not use it as only an opportunity to pitch your products or services; but instead offer helpful tips, interesting articles and stories, as well as photos, videos, and more to engage your consumers. Some people are more interested in what you have to say than what you have to sell.
Use Negative Comments to your Advantage
Customers who post negative comments about your company online are not simply complaining, but rather they are offer you valuable information. So take action. Feedback from customers is worth its weight in gold! Use this priceless information from online comments and reviews to improve your product offerings, customer service, and other business operations. For example, if you see a lot of negative comments about the customer support you offer, you might want to review your policies for that support and improve on it. Respond to the comment and let your customers know that you are listening and that you have taken concrete actions to improve. This will show your customer that you care about what they have to say. You can turn a negative into a positive, long-term client.
There simply is no better salesperson for your business than a satisfied customer.
Oh, and don’t forget… go green!