Having an effective online reputation management strategy and help combat negative and ultimately damaging online reputation. In order to have effective online reputation management requires observation, speed and data selection.
To be successful online, companies need to listen to what their customers are talking about, monitor what their competitors are doing and predict where their industry is going. Although this can be overwhelming, utilizing professional services like Blue Water Marketing can help reduce that feeling.
There are several actionable items that you can start in order to monitor your online reputation. Please remember these are a great starting point but you will need to continue to fine-tune your reputation management.
Unfortunately, businesses will inevitably come across unhappy customers. While most customers’ complaints are able to be settled quickly and efficiently by coming to a resolution whether it’s through a phone call or through email.
However, the situation can become increasingly complicated and also potentially problematic if the customer retaliates by leaving a negative review about your business online.
With the internet, it has greatly reduced the space between customers which results in word-of-mouth being able to travel much faster and further than before and has a greater impact as well.
In order to reduce the impact of negative reviews, it is important to have an online reputation management strategy. This strategy needs to be in place before a potential crisis might occur. By properly planning ahead, your company will be able to respond more efficiently and faster which minimizes the financial loss that could occur.
Proactive vs. Reactive Reputation Management Strategies
Unfortunately, most small businesses are not prepared and they lack a proactive approach when it comes to their reputation management. Although it is a commonly held belief that having a broader scale digital marketing strategy is crucial for online success many businesses are still limiting their online presence to only having a website.
Unfortunately, this will leave them extremely vulnerable to negative reviews appearing towards the top of a search query when potential customers are looking up their business. This especially important for established businesses, who are frequently searched by name, to have more than just an online website.
Online reputation management and repair has been a growing segment in digital marketing for the past several years. Based on our experience and working with numerous cases of reputation and pear, it is very apparent that most businesses do not invest in developing their online presence and reputation proactively and therefore is having to be considerably
More in terms of lost revenue, damage control, and correctly developing the presence they have unfortunately neglected.
When businesses are tied closely to the identities of their owners or founders, the names of their top executives are another area where an online reputation management should be handled proactively.
While some business owners try to maintain and low profile and avoid social media in order to preserve their privacy outside of the business, others do not. well at first it seems like it might be a good idea to have no social media presence, it unfortunately means that they have no built-in protection around them selves.
Without that protection, they are subject to someone choosing to use their name and ultimately damage their reputation in a negative review or otherwise.
Perhaps the only thing that might be worse than not having any social media is handling social media poorly. No one can damage your reputation as greatly as you can damage it yourself if you lack the skills needed to be able to conduct yourself properly as well as professionally online.
Broaden Your Internet Presence
When it comes to social media platforms, most people think of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which are often considered to be the big three. For businesses, there are dozens of other social sites that you might want to look into in order to expand your digital footprint.
It is important to determine which social platforms your target customer primarily uses in order to establish a presence before someone else can get in front of you and have the opportunity to damage your name.
A business to business (B2B) company would most likely benefit from having a presence on LinkedIn, where they can build a professional connection with entrepreneurs and others who could benefit from their service.
A business to consumer (B2C) industry however might consider showcasing the products on a visual platform like Pinterest. If you have a business that is looking to reach the younger crowds you might want to keep your finger on the pulse of emerging social media platforms such as Snapchat or TikTok.
Going with an emerging social media platform can also decrease your digital marketing expenditures because they are not yet oversaturated with business accounts and then will allow you to get first in the game of marketing and creating ads.
Explain in a region to social media will not only allow you to connect with your targeted audience, but it will also give you more control over top search results associated with your business.
Pay Attention to Your Social Media Accounts
Just because your company has a social media account for your business does not mean you are properly managing your online reputation. It is important that the accounts are current and regularly maintained in order to garner an organic following.
Continually filling your social media feeds with relevant and interesting content will increase your sphere of influence, booster your engagement, and be able to interact with both current and potential customers.
However, if you neglect your social media accounts it might leave them vulnerable to be outrank by negative posting and comments about your account on that social platform.
Grow the Online Visibility of Brands & Products
You will want to make sure to build out your web presence and social profiles even further if your business already has name recognition is some of its products or services.
Developing websites, social media profiles and other forms of rankable content for any variation of your business that a potential customer might search for.
Once again, neglecting claim to that ownership could be complicated and potentially costly if someone should gain control of the online usage first.
Protect Your Key Employees
Potential clients might be searching for their service after asking around “who do you go to?” instead of “Which business do you go to?” In cases of like word of mouth, it is important to develop a strong social media presence for key employees and it is a great way to proactively manage your business’ online reputation.
Update Your Blog Frequently
Utilizing a blog allows you to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership in your field. Blogging is a great online reputation management strategy. Your blog will provide you with the opportunity to gain a loyal following by providing your readers with a sleuth of answers to common questions related to your industry.
You can also use a blog to provide a search engine ranking boost for local SEO as well as creating content that can be shared across social media platforms!
Generate and Respond to Online Reviews
A highly effective way to build up your business’ online reputation is to let your happy clients and customers build it for you. Have them leave positive online reviews! According to a Local Consumer Review Survey, 86% of people read online reviews for businesses prior to making a purchase with them. Keep this in mind when asking your customer base to provide positive reviews on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Having currently satisfied customers leave reviews will continue to build consumer trust.
The same can be held regarding less-than-raving reviews. Online reputation management is also about how you will respond to these negative reviews. It is best to apologize for the consumers experience and attempt to come to a solution via a phone call or an email. You do not want to ignore or become combative when handling negative reviews. Most of the time a review will be willing to update their original feedback with a higher star rating after their concerns have been addressed and there is a resolution.
Listen To Your Customers
When addressing a negative customer review it is important to consider that there could be validity to the comments being made. This is especially true if you receive frequent negative feedback regarding the same concern.
Do not disregard an online complaint as a case of a bitter former customer. Make sure to address all concerns professionally while considering whether or not this feedback can be used to improve your business operations in the future.
Businesses should always treat customers with respect and demonstrate that you appreciate their feedback and provide them with great customer service. Especially, because you never know how many potential customers may be reading your responses before deciding to work with you.
The way you handle criticism online could very well be driving both current and potential customers into the arms of your competitors without even knowing it. Make it a point to listen to every customer complaint – whether you agree with it or not – and respond with respect and not aggression or defensiveness.
Make Genuine Amends
It is inevitable that human error will occur, it is a part of life. However, it can be detrimental to your business if it is not handled quickly and efficiently. If your company makes a mistake, it is important to be upfront and own up to it. You should also make a genuine apology to those who have been affected. A sincere apology followed by unconditional amends can help when it comes to diffusing a situation and repairing a professional relationship.
Refrain From Online Arguments
Do not, we repeat, do not engage in an online argument. It does not matter who is right or who even started the dispute; engaging in an online mudslinging contest will always come across as unprofessional. If you react to criticism emotionally you will end up saying or doing something that tarnishes your reputation.
The best way to avoid getting into a public online argument is to try to move the conversation offline. Staying professional will more than likely win over customers than being “right” in an online argument. If you find yourself or your business being pulled into a digital dispute, take the time to step away from the computer. Use this time to create a professional strategy in order to diffuse the situation.
Invest in Online Reputation Management
When you start to establish your online reputation it will require an investment of time and money. Reality is many small business neglect being proactive when it comes to managing their reputation until there is a problem needing to be addressed
Proactive online reputation management is an essential element of any present-day digital marketing strategy. If you lack the time or know-how needed to manage your business’ reputation can be frustrating, time-consuming, and potentially alienating to your customers.
Having a well-managed online reputation will always be worth the investment – if you don’t have the time, don’t know where to start, or simply aren’t getting the results you want, hire someone to handle it for you.
It’s Never Too Soon to Start Managing Your Business’ Reputation
If you adhere to these tips to improve your online reputation management strategy you can put your business in a stronger position to handle negative comments or reviews. While a proactive reputation management will likely require an initial investment, it will ultimately save money if the inevitable occurs.
It is important to be prepared for the worst: If you or your business end up being attacked with criticism online, there are a number of strategies that can be implemented to repair the damage.
Local businesses are more susceptible to online reputation attacks because they lack the deep pockets and experience that large corporations have. However if you are proactive when it comes to online reputation management you will be able to protect yourself from both negative statements and the financial loss that often comes as a result of them.
It’s never too soon to start or late to implement an online reputation management strategy for your business. With Blue Water Marketing, you will learn what your business is doing right or wrong already, as well as where you can build up additional collateral to bolster your online reputation even further.