Online Reputation Management Tips for Small Businesses
For anyone running an online business, online reputation management (ORM) should be a priority. While most small business owners know that online reviews matter, your online reputation affects much more than what your customers see on Google or Yelp. While every company experiences conflict with clients at some point or another, the expedience of today’s internet has decreased the barriers between customers and made them much more likely to lodge public virtual complaints.
Because of this, it’s easier than ever for a frustrated customer to take to public forums and unleash damaging word of mouth. Luckily, companies who have taken the time to build an online reputation management strategy can cope with negative customer reviews much more easily. Here are the top online reputation management tips from professionals in the field.
Expand your online presence
If all you’ve got to represent you online is your website, you’re as good as a sitting duck when it comes to negative customer reviews. Because of this, it’s important to diversify and expand your online presence. Ideally, your company should have social media profiles on relevant sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, as well as LinkedIn and other sites, like Flickr, Instagram, or even Pinterest. If you publish lots of video content, you should also have profiles on platforms like YouTube and Periscope. By diversifying your online presence, you create a wide assortment of pages on which customers can leave you reviews. This, in turn, ensures that a poor review or two won’t completely sink your online ratings.
Stay active online
Companies that stay active online are companies that last. While it’s inevitable to run into dissatisfied customers every now and again, maintaining an active online presence can help you mitigate those conflicts before they turn into a full-blown issue. Because most consumers head to social media to vent their frustrations before they hit an online forum, maintaining an active presence on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages can help you catch and address reputation issues before they blow up. Additionally, being active online communicates to customers that you care about your company and your clients, which can make reputation issues less likely to occur in the first place.
Build out your individual online presences
If your business’s reputation is very much tied in with individual identities, as is the case with law firms, doctors, and healthcare providers, for example, it’s important to ensure that you’re as transparent as possible about who is actually behind the company. Moz, for instance, is inexorably tied to the identity of its founder, Rand Fishkin. By being transparent about who is running your business and in what capacity that is taking place, you give customers a person to communicate with if they have a problem. Additionally, being open about the individuals behind your business can help people identify with your brand.
While blogging isn’t what many people think of when they consider ORM, it’s a very powerful tool. The reason for this is simple: every time you post a blog, you give Google a new page to index. Blogging can help mitigate the effects of a handful of negative online reviews by giving Google plenty of positive content to rank. It can also help you build out your social media profiles and provide value for your customers. If you’re going to blog, however, it’s important also to be proactive about reading and responding to the blog comments left by your readers.
Pay attention to negative reviews
While ORM is all about taking steps to safeguard against negative online reviews, it bears mentioning that some negative reviews are legitimate. If you receive a poor review from a client or customer, it’s important to pay attention to said report. By listening to the person issuing the complaint, you may well uncover a weakness within your company. This is particularly the case if you continually receive negative reviews about one specific facet of your business, such as customer service. Instead of being inflexible and haughty in the face of online reviews, ensure that you’re taking the time to consider your client’s position and make changes if needed.
Every company, no matter how good, messes up now and again. If you made a mistake that resulted in a poor online review, the single most important thing you can do is reach out to the customer to make amends. A client who received poor service at a restaurant will appreciate a free meal, for example, while someone who purchased a faulty product will appreciate a full refund and replacement. If you company makes a genuine mistake, issuing an authentic apology and working with the customer to rectify the situation is the single most important thing you can do. In addition to improving your relationships with your clients, this simple step can also help preserve your online reputation.
Many small, local companies don’t view ORM as a priority. Unfortunately, this leaves a business vulnerable to negative online reviews and a suffering reputation. Because of this, it’s critical to regard ORM as a priority rather than an option. By being proactive about your online reputation management and treating it with the same care and attention you give to SEO and online marketing, you can ensure that your company stays in good standing and continues to rake in the business it deserves. While ORM is an investment, it’s a worthwhile one that can make or break your company.
For local businesses with an online presence, ORM is a true must-have. Proactive ORM can help your business stand on stronger, more stable ground in the event of negative reviews and can save you the time, money, and effort required to reclaim your reputation after someone ruins it online. While local businesses are more vulnerable to damaged online reputations, proactive ORM techniques can help ensure that you protect your company from all online attacks.
To learn more about online reputation management, contact Ruby Moon Consulting today!