Crisis Averted: Managing Your Business’ Online Reputation
Business owners don’t typically think of reputation management right away when planning their digital marketing strategy.
But it is a thing — a big thing, with real consequences if left untended. In an age where online research rules purchase habits, you need to be sure a quick search of your business name yields positive links and reviews.
Reputation Management Fallout
Just because you have glowing reviews today does not mean they will be there tomorrow. You cannot rely on reviews to serve as the only content that speaks to your business. So what can a poorly managed online reputation affect when individuals search for your business’ name?
- Press coverage
- Hiring ability
- And much more
If you’re reacting rather than being proactive, you might be entering a digital hurt locker when disaster strikes your business’ online reputation. If a poor review — or two or three — suddenly floods your social and online presence, you need to be prepared with the right tools, strategies and remedies.
I used to run professionally, and preventative maintenance is a term that my runner friends and I use to refer to the hours of strength exercises, agility drills, stretching, icing and massage that must be performed each week to stay injury-free while training. The same line of thinking applies to online reputation management if you want to stay ahead of a bad review or crisis. As the Girl Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”
Have a long-term plan in place that allows your business to be seen as a trustworthy, reputable entity online, all the time. This starts with creating a website that features accurate information, which is everything from the correct location and contact information to descriptions of products and services, and comes up very high in Google search results.Crafting the right SEO strategy should be seen as a necessity for anyone looking to gain business from people using the Internet to search for products and services — which is everyone.
Just because you have glowing reviews today does not mean they will be there tomorrow.
Spend the Dollars and Minutes
Your business needs to invest time and money in reputation management, and one element of this is social media platform management. It’s not good enough to simply have accounts, you have to be active in the accounts so that you can respond to public messages like tweets, Facebook comments and inquiries. By being an active social advocate, you’ll increase engagement with customers, establish more trust with your audience and increase influence in the digital space.
Consistency Breeds Trust & Reliability
Developing disciplined habits has likely yielded positive results throughout your career, when running your business, you need to consider adopting similar habits for engaging with customers.
As you’re aware, you need to meet customers where they are — online and on a variety of social platforms — and building on our recommendation of being active on social, you need to remain consistent. That is, consistent in your messaging, persona and time of responses, and bringing that across all of your social platforms. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to establish a business account on every social media platform; not all platforms will stick around and gain the same popularity as Facebook and Twitter.
For example, although Vine is a cool and fun way to share videos with friends and followers, it isn’t often mentioned in conversations of the best platforms for businessesto be on. The reasons might be due to lower engagement levels or lack of establishing thought leadership — it’s hard to know for sure — but you need to find what works for your business and remain a consistent presence, which breeds trust and reliability. And those are definitely two words you want consistently associated with your business.
Get Eyes on Your Content
In addition to being socially active, your business needs to establish a strong online presence outside of its website. Ranking in search engine results for pages other than your site and review websites can back up your reputation in the eyes of your customer. Byregularly producing content and/or blogging, you’ll stay at the top of searches because they recognize fresh, relevant content for your industry. When you invest time in crafting blog posts — either on your business’ blog or another person or business’ blog — you build quality links that help to elevate your business’ name in search results. This can help your business rise above any bad reviews that might accompany a search for your business.
If you receive a bad review or make a major snafu, don’t try and avoid the truth to get out of the situation, a la Mr. Tom Brady. Own up to the error of your ways and apologize to those who have been affected in a meaningful way; disingenuous statements that serve as both an explanation and pseudo-apology are not welcome here — even if you think you’re right. And whatever you do, do not engage with a follower who clearly wants to pick a fight; leave emotions out of it and move on.
With an active social presence, effective SEO strategy and regular content publishing, you’re positioned to respond and manage your reputation in the online space.