Online reputation management is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Have you ever been upset with the way you were treated at a business and immediately vented about it on a social website? Or have you sent an email or posted to a forum about a company regarding your treatment? If so, then you are certainly not alone.
I recently vented about my online backup service on Twitter (didn’t help my situation resolve any more quickly but the issue was eventually dealt with), and I had a bad experience with Taco Bell that resulted in my submitting a complaint on their web site, to which they quickly responded (much to my surprise), and I received coupons for free items.
This kind of venting all relates to a company’s online reputation, and if the information is negative, it can certainly impact a company’s bottom line. With the Internet, everyone now has a voice that can be heard. As a business owner, it is now more important that ever to engage in pro-active online reputation management. Allowing bad reviews and comments about your business to become commonplace online is a sure way to dissuade potential customers from doing business with you.
Here’s some figures about online reputation that might surprise you:
Don’t let your online reputation suffer! By following these 7 tips on online reputation management, you ensure that your company is portrayed in a positive manner online:
1. Build your own reputation. If you have a negative review or reputation-damaging article about you or your company online, the best way to improve your online reputation is by generating positive search results that will rank as highly as possible in a Google search and edge out anything negative on the list of search results. So, publish articles, online press releases, videos, social networking profiles etc., — anything that will enhance your authority on a subject. These newer posts will typically rise to the top of a search on your name or your company name while pushing the negative information further down on subsequent pages.
2. Respond quickly to complaints. If you receive an email from a customer who is angry about something, you need to address it as soon as possible. As a business owner, it’s in your best interest to successfully resolve a complaint so that you can retain a customer. In the event that your business was in the wrong, then you need to do everything in your power to correct the problem. In the event that the customer was treated according to normal business practices, you still need to address the issue. You definitely should not point out that the customer is wrong, but you can explain the situation and try to find a solution that makes your customer happy.
3. Politely request for removal of negative reviews or comments. There’s nothing wrong with asking a negative reviewer to remove their comments – especially if there was some type of misunderstanding. Of course, you can’t force them to remove it, so all you can do is ask. If they don’t, move on. There are ways to push that negative review into oblivion on the search engines.
4. Create pages on popular social media sites. The majority of people in the world are active on social media. By having a company page, you give customers the ability to directly contact you. If someone is upset about something, having a public forum to show that your business does everything in its power to resolve problems can go a long way in online reputation management.
5. Be proactive. Don’t simply wait around for a customer to contact you with a negative complaint. Find ways to use your social media pages to promote your business. Reach out to customers and potential customers with contests and other positive forms of self-promotion.
6. Use Google Alerts. Chances are that if someone makes a remark about your business on a forum, it will eventually show up in a search engine. By actively looking for information and statements about your company via Google Alerts, you can keep tabs about what is being said about you online. It’s possible, although unethical, that a competitor may make posts that are not true about your company in order to try and hurt your business. Customers also often exaggerate the negative experiences they have, and can post untrue statements about your business online. By finding posts about your business in forums, blogs, and other types of web sites you can quickly respond to any negative criticism and deal with it before it spins out of control.
7. Have easy-to-find contact page on your web site. Having a professionally designed website with interesting content as well as an appealing appearance will let potential customers know that your business is a professional and trustworthy organization. You want potential customers to be able to easily find out about your business. By having links to your email or a contact form, social media pages, as well as your phone number, you make it easy if customers or prospects want to talk to you.
Online reputation management takes a lot of work, but it is absolutely essential if you want to have a successful business. Ignoring what is being said about your business online can give people the impression that you are apathetic. Even worse, by not responding to concerns and complaints, you allow only one side of the story to be told. It’s important that people see that your business cares, that you will do whatever they can to take care of your customers. You can use the Internet to make a positive impact on your business instead of allowing it to hurt your business and erode your customer base. Online reputation management can mean the difference between being a successful business owner and finding yourself out of business.
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Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.