More than ever, people are scouring the internet for information before purchasing a product or service. Websites such as Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Twitter guide prospective customers to first impressions that will influence their ultimate decisions. A few biting reviews—or even one axe-wielding customer or disgruntled former employee—can push a customer elsewhere.
If you’re not minding your businesses’ online reputation, it can prove detrimental to your performance, costing you customers and revenue, prospective employees, and—just maybe—your future. Here are some strategies to protect and improve your online identity.
1. Digital vigilance: Routinely monitor prominent review sites, such as Yelp, Google, and Glassdoor, and perform regular web searches of your company name. Various online tools—such as Google Alerts, Technorati, and SocialMention—can bring online mentions to your attention, while paid services like Rankur, and Viralheat can similarly spotlight digital content swirling around your business.
2. Choose civility: In spite of your best efforts, it’s inevitable that someone will become unhappy and choose to share their thoughts in cyberspace. When you spot an earnest complaint, be proactive and offer a constructive, civil reply that aims to make things right. Often, just listening to the customer’s concern and taking it seriously is enough to generate goodwill. It is then reasonable to politely and professionally request that the individual consider writing an updated comment.
3. Run a good offense: By participating regularly on social media and creating new content, including press releases, blog posts, and public profiles on networks such as LinkedIn and Google Pages, you can weaken online negativity—or at least push it down the search results page where others are less likely to discover it.
4. Go to the pros: In comparison to large corporations with teams of people monitoring digital conversations about their brand, small business are far more vulnerable to online attacks. That’s why some turn to reputation-defense services like InternetReputation.com and Reputation Defender to monitor and address unsavory content and help them reform their online standing.
5. Invite feedback: Provide consumers a way to easily contact you with their comments, which will help dissuade internet ramblings and help you solve the problem one-on-one without ever having problems aired in public view.
6. Encourage positive reviews: To drown out the negative—or at least tip the scales—turn to your loyal fans. Kindly ask customers if they’d be willing to share their thoughts on your business on a prominent review site or perhaps provide a testimonial to post on your business website.
7. Draw a line. On social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or even when commenting on a local news article, separate the personal from the professional. Sharing your thoughts on controversial topics made under a business name can hurt you as well as others. Always, always think before posting—even more so when attaching your business name to the words.
Take control of your online reputation
In a world where people are consistently turning online for information that will guide their purchase decisions, you needn’t let a few unsatisfied customers or angst-filled employees define your brand.
By taking a few proactive and practical steps, you can better control what’s being said and seen online about your business and showcase your company’s positive attributes.