With today’s technology, it’s now easier than ever to assess what customers and the general public think of your business. In just a few minutes, you can access ratings, reviews, or social media chatter to see what people are saying about your company. Why they either love it or hate it and what their overall experience has been like while working with you.
This is, of course, a double-edged sword. Customers are now able to make more informed purchase decisions than ever before and can much more easily get an idea of the quality of services or products offered by a specific company.
However, business owners need to take greater efforts to handle their reputation online and make sure they’re putting a positive image out there for their customers.
Monitoring versus management
To truly get a handle on your online reputation, you need to understand the major differences between monitoring and managing your reputation. While both of these tasks are done to ensure you are maintaining a good reputation, they are performed in different ways.
Reputation monitoring is essentially staying vigilant as to what others are saying. This is, of course, important—you can’t manage or change your reputation without first understanding what people are saying about you. Management, however, involves the decisions you make and the actions you take to begin influencing people’s opinions about your brand.
Simple tips for better online reputation management
If at all possible, you should have someone on staff who is there specifically to handle your online reputation. Of course, not all small business owners have the resources at their current stage to hire someone specifically designated to public relations, so you as the business owner might need to temporarily take on that task.
You need to be able to find solutions for any issues that arise in your reputation monitoring, such as common consumer complaints or suggestions. Time is of the essence. The longer you delay, the more potential harm your reputation could incur. Additionally, you must be able to plan for the future so that your company can avoid these issues popping up again.
Here are a few basic principles of good online reputation management:
- Using the right tools: There are a number of tools that help with monitoring and managing your reputation online. One of the best free tools is Social Mention, which is fantastic for combing through the internet for mentions of your brand on social media, whether it’s by customers or competitors. The tool shows you exactly where mentions are coming from, so you can see them in context and interact with the person who mentioned you, if so desired. BrandsEye is another tool that helps you track what people are saying on social media. It’s a more sophisticated option, but a bit more expensive. Finally, the simple-to-use Google Alerts tool directs you toward mentions of your company in press releases, blog posts, and various news articles.
- Be as transparent as possible: The more “real” and transparent your business is, the more people will like and respect it. It will make you more relatable and trustworthy in the eyes of your customers.
- Monitor review sites: Keep an eye on the major review sites on which your business might be listed, such as Yelp, Google Reviews, Angie’s List and more. You can respond directly to customers who leave both positive and negative reviews on their site. If the reviews are negative, you can take steps to address the problem and invite the customer back to get a better experience the second time around.
- React appropriately: Whether or not you believe your customers to have legitimate complaints about the way you do business or about your products or services, you should be polite at all times and respond as promptly as possible. Of course, if someone is attempting to perpetuate falsehoods about your company, this is against the law and you could potentially take legal action if you believe it is worth it.
These are just a few of the most basic guidelines for better online reputation management for brands of all types. For more in-depth tips for your specific business and more information about the various types of tools available to make reputation management even easier, contact us today at Viral Solutions and we will be pleased to be of assistance.
Queen of the Machine for Viral Solutions LLC
“If a brand genuinely wants to make a social contribution, it should start with who they are, not what they do. For only when a brand has defined itself and its core values can it identify causes or social responsibility initiatives that are in alignment with its authentic brand story.” ~ Simon Mainwaring