The internet has transformed the way we live, work and play. Businesses that want to be successful in today’s digital world need an online reputation management strategy to help them stay ahead of their competition and maintain a positive image with customers.
The online space is a complex place, and it’s easy for small mistakes to lead to bigger problems if you don’t have the right tools in place. Here are seven things every business owner needs to know about protecting their company’s online reputation.
1. Reputation Management is a Full-Time Job
Companies don’t just have one reputation; they have many. All of them need to be monitored and maintained 24/7 to stop negative content from spreading. A bad review about your business on TripAdvisor can lead to a free fall in the number of people searching for your company on Google. A negative mention on Twitter can make your customers think twice about visiting your business website. The internet is a compelling communication platform, so it’s essential to have a reputation management system to handle the volume of content published online.
2. Every Business Has a Reputation
It doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, manufacturer, service provider, or somewhere in between; the truth is that all businesses have an online reputation. Your company might not be well known outside of your local area, but just because only a few people know about you doesn’t mean you don’t have a reputation to protect.
The public needs to find information about your business quickly. A simple Google search is the most common way they’ll learn more about you. Since 90% of people rely on online reviews before they make a purchase, you must have an online reputation management strategy in place to ensure this content stays positive.
3. Reputation Management Has Nothing to Do with Puffery
Many business owners think they can simply post about their company and products or services online. If things go, wrong people will figure it out on their own. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s just not how things work in today’s technological world. If you don’t actively promote your business online, no one will know about it.
Don’t just talk about how great your products or services are–showcase them! Use social media to post pictures of happy customers having a great time at your restaurant, tweet about how many people you helped this week, or write reviews of your favorite products on Amazon. The more content you add to the internet, the better people will know about your business. Then they can decide for themselves if you’re worth doing business with.
4. People Read Reviews Before They Make a Purchase
It’s easy just to write off online reviews as a form of entertainment. The truth is that people go to review sites every day before making a purchase. That means your business and its reputation are on the line every time someone leaves a review about you. Unhappy customers write negative reviews, and they share their experiences with friends and family. The potential damage caused by one person can be far-reaching and long-lasting.
5. Not All Reviews Are Positive
What happens when a customer writes an online review–and it isn’t positive? This is where you need to have a reputation management strategy in place and implement it as quickly as possible. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is ignoring when there’s a problem. This can be even worse than if you had just dealt with it right away. When someone has a negative experience with your company, you need to address the issue head-on, with grace and professionalism.
People base their purchasing decisions on what they read online. When a customer writes something negative about your business (even if it’s not true), you need to act quickly. You need to address the problem immediately by acknowledging it, then correcting the situation as best you can, and finally by ensuring that no other customers experience the same problem. When you do this, people will be more forgiving and more likely to give your business a chance to improve.
6. It Takes a Long Time to Repair Damage
Negative online reviews can stick around on the internet forever, even if an issue has been resolved. When someone writes something negative about your business online, it’s essential to become a better owner. Don’t just sit on your hands and wait for the issue to blow over. Take action immediately!
7. Reputation Management is Vital in Today’s World
Online reputation management is one of the most essential pieces of your marketing plan. Whether your business is big or small, online reputation management affects you in many ways, and it’s critical to have a professional social media manager with expertise in this area. Having someone on your team who can manage your company’s reputation online not only protects you from damaging reviews but also keeps your business at the top of potential customer’s minds.
You Need to Act Now
Online reputation management isn’t something you can afford to put off until later. It isn’t something you want your competitors doing better than you. In the end, your business reputation is your most valuable asset. Don’t wait for something bad to happen before taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business. It takes time and effort to build a positive reputation online. It only takes one person to destroy all of that with just one negative comment. Have an online reputation management plan in place before you need it.