With all of the things you have to manage while running your business, the last thing you probably have on your mind is online reputation management. You figure you’ve created a nice website and you treat your customers like VIPs, so what do you have to worry about, right?
Your online reputation is one of the most important details you could overlook. Unless you’ve had prior business with a customer or vendor, the first point of contact potential customers see is your listing on the search results. The second is most likely a customer review.
Reputation Management Statistics You Should Know
Ninety-seven percent of consumers search online when looking for a local business. Out of those surveyed, 90 percent read comments, posts, and reviews before doing business with a company, and most will read at least seven reviews for a single business.
A single negative review will result in a 20 percent decrease in business. Four or more negative mentions online will bump that statistic up to 70 percent.
However, you can turn things around even with a negative review. Handling a negative comment or interaction well will result in 45 percent of those engaged making positive comments. If you’re unsure of the impression your company makes within the online community, try looking at your web presence through the eyes of a potential customer.
Would you want to do business with you?
No matter your answer, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about the art of reputation management.
What is Reputation Management?
Simply put, it’s the ability to accurately assess online impressions about your business and steer positive public sentiment your way. Strategically managing your reputation establishes a favorable impression of your brand, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time. But, the returns on your effort will pay dividends in terms of good will from the public, customer loyalty, and increased revenue.
Here’s how it’s done.
Google Your Business
One of the fastest ways to gauge your online presence is to Google your business or professional name. Any customer reviews and social media mentions – good or bad – will come up in the search. Do the same with other search engines like Bing and Yahoo Search. Note the location and source of any negative commentary or reviews.
Remove Any Negative Content That Can’t be Engaged Directly
This may take a little time, but you have to be thorough. Locate and remove that video of you being the life of the company holiday party from five years ago, set personal social media profiles or pages to private, delete troll comments, and correct inaccurate information.
Deal With Bad Reviews and Comments Head-On
There are some things you can’t remove, and others that you shouldn’t. If you come face-to-face with a legitimately unhappy customer on Yelp, Google My Business, or any other online forum, do your best to resolve the problem directly and publicly.
Erasing such comments will only make it look like you have something to hide. An earnest, public interaction that’s geared toward a win-win resolution will demonstrate that you care about your customers and will work hard to provide satisfaction.
Be Your Own Goodwill Ambassador
You are your brand and its best spokesperson. Make a point to engage more on social media, in forums, and on your website. That will allow you to proactively engage in a positive manner rather than wasting energy cleaning up after the fact.
Neutralize or Bury Any Mentions That Can’t Be Addressed Directly
You can use a form of reputation SEO to neutralize any negative comments on search results, which will push them lower on the results page. This can be easily accomplished by replacing it with positive, SEO optimized content. The effect isn’t immediate, but the good content will push the bad reviews below the fold, or even to the limbo of page two before you know it.
Anyone who has spent a good amount of time online knows that what happens online often stays there forever. Even if you manage to delete embarrassing photos, old posts, or deal with troublemakers, chances are that that content has already made the rounds somewhere in cyberspace.
The good news is, any negative impressions are soon forgotten unless you’ve done something egregious or avoided the issue. One you’ve performed routine clean as outlined above, practice transparency moving forward. Take responsibility for any misunderstandings, settle disputes in a calm, professional manner, and never act like you have something to hide. Use the opportunity to learn from online interactions, whether they’re positive or negative, and improve your performance.
Overlooking the fine points of reputation management could leave you open to unscrupulous people, disinformation, or just plain old misunderstandings. One out of five business owners are unhappy with how they’re portrayed online. If you don’t have the time to be proactive about managing your reputation, consult a professional reputation manager.
Have you Googled yourself lately?