What is online reputation management, really?
When you think of it, what definition comes to mind? Wikipedia’s definition is this:
“The influencing and the control of an individual’s or business’s reputation. In other words, your reputation is simply the beliefs and opinions that are generally held about you or your business.”
It’s what people are saying about you through:
- Social media reviews and complaints
- Online review sites like Google, Yelp, YP.com, etc.
- Negative media coverage
- Hate sites
- Good, ol’-fashioned, word-of-mouth bashing
As a small business owner, it’s important to understand what others are saying about your business. Managing your reputation doesn’t have to be overwhelming or time-consuming. As little as five minutes every few days is sufficient, along with an occasional 20 minutes to provide a thoughtful response to any negative reviews.
Here are some helpful strategies to get you started:
4 strategies for managing your reputation
1. Monitor your business
Peter Drucker, a management consultant who revolutionized how businesses are managed, has been quoted as saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Before you can manager your reputation, measure what is being said about you and your business.
Set up alerts on Google, Facebook, and any other social media profiles where your clients are active. For example, if your market is the 65+ age group, you probably don’t need to be on Twitter.
Claim and optimize your Google Business Page because Google is the new yellow pages — and has been for several years now. Become familiar with the first page of Google’s results when you search your name.
Those are some good first steps to start monitoring your business.
2. Respond quickly and politely
When you come across a negative review, act immediately. Make the situation right with the person online if at all possible. Whether you made a mistake or your customer was in the wrong, it’s your reputation on the line.
Be polite and non-confrontational. The last thing you want to do is engage in a verbal brawl. I repeat: do not engage. Others will come across the review and see that you respond well and do your best to resolve customer complaints.
Sometimes bad press can become great press when you make it right with a client. But it doesn’t have to be in public.
As a business, they already do several things right where their online reputation is concerned:
- They have free wifi that enables you to check in on social media
- You get an email thanking you for the visit
- If you haven’t come back in a while, you get an “I miss you” email
And then when I complained via Facebook message, they did several more things right:
- They responded in under 10 minutes!
- They resolved the problem in two ways: by providing their hours and by making my next drink on them for the inconvenience.
To say I’m impressed is an understatement. I’m writing about it on the blog, for goodness sake!
And that’s the thing about doing things right: some of your best customers might start out as your naysayers. Not always, but you’d be surprised how often. All it takes is a small effort on your part to show you care and just happened to slip up.
One last note on this: don’t let bad reviews go unanswered. When you don’t answer a negative review, you are validating it and giving the impression that you don’t care about your business or your customers.
3. Be proactive and control the conversation
Be proactive by always seeking to improve your products, services, and customer service.
No amount of monitoring or responding can help your reputation if your market views your services as subpar.
I’m positive you’re reading this because you care deeply about delivering quality services.
Once you have that down:
- Control the conversation on the first page of Google search results with a solid content marketing strategy. Treat this first page as if it is your business card.
- Create a strategy and put a system in place to elicit reviews from happy customers.
- Create a strategy for responding to all reviews right away, especially negative ones.
- Create surveys on your website to give people a place to vent and feel that you’re listening.
Here’s a strategy we share with our clients:
When you get a testimonial from a client, type it out and copy the sentences you like the most. Paste these into an email to that customer, along with a link to wherever you want to build online reviews, and ask him or her to copy/paste the review there.
It could be Google, Yelp, Facebook, or wherever you want to build your online reputation.
4. Hire a company when you need help
Hiring a company doesn’t mean “set it and forget it.” It’s your reputation, so it’s important that you stay involved in the process.
Even if you hire someone, you need to be actively engaged.
Online reputation management is managing the beliefs and opinions that are generally held about you or your business online.
The four strategies for managing your online reputation are:
- Monitoring your business
- Responding quickly and politely to negative online reviews
- Being proactive and controlling the conversation
- Hiring a company to help you
If you’re interested in getting specific feedback for your business, we’d love to set up a time to meet with you one-on-one at your convenience.
Do you have any questions about mobile websites, online reputation management, or anything else you’d like ask? Leave them in the comments below or give us a call at (915) 585-1919.