Managing Your Online Reputation

 
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Your customers are talking about you — whether you know it or not.  

Managing your online reputation requires a whole new skill set, including monitoring the online conversation and engaging with customers. These skills are now essential for every successful business.

Before purchasing, a large percentage of your customers do research online. One of the key places they look to are user review websites. They are where customers can find your business — and also see reviews of your business and how it performs.

Like it or not, these review sites have a huge amount of influence on your online reputation. Good reviews and a positive reputation help grow your business.  But, people will talk about your business – both the good and the bad. If customers feel you’re not living up to their expectations, they won’t think twice about saying so. And, once something is posted online it lives on forever.

According to noted restaurateur Dan Simons, “Social media for business now is life or death. You could open a business and do everything right, but if you’re unaware of these social media you will perish. Social media can take a business and put a bullet in it.”

Keys To Managing Your Online Reputation

“You will never keep people from talking. But you can take actions to influence the content of what they say.”
- Marketing expert Seth Grodin

The first step in managing your online reputation is to know where people are talking about you and what they’re saying. There are many key sites to monitor including Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, Google+ Local, Yahoo, TripAdvisor, LinkedIn and more.

Google Alerts are a really helpful tool to help you monitor your online reputation by keeping track of what’s being said about you and your business. Set up Google alerts for your name, your business name and the keywords related to your business. You will get email reports with links to sites where your business name, keywords or phrases get mentioned.

This is especially important where your name and online reputation are concerned. Negative reviews can really hurt your business. If they go unnoticed, the likelihood of negative reviews coming up in  search results is very high.  But if you monitor review sites, selectively address negative reviews and encourage satisfied customers to sing your praises, you can drive the negative content down so it doesn’t show up on the first few of pages of search results.

Some review sites have features that automatically send e-mail alerts to business owners when a review is posted. Put them to good use.

Another key to managing your online reputation is claiming your listing on the search and review sites. Most listings are free. Be sure to fill in your profile, too. The more complete your profile, the more prominently your business will appear in search results.

Once you’ve tuned into the online conversation, the difficult part is managing it. Responding to reviews is a customer relations tightrope act. Bad reviews will be upsetting.  That’s why you need to  make sure you’ve calmed down before responding.  When you do put together a response, make sure it’s appropriate and polite.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to answer every review.  Pick your battles, especially when the overall consensus is positive.

If you have a question about managing your online reputation or need some help, just let us know.

 
Bob Levy