Reputation is a keystone element of a business’s success and survival. The tricky part about reputation is that it is not just the result of what you do and say about your business. It is equally influenced by what others do and say. This gets especially tricky when it comes to your reputation online.
The automation, sharing, and real-time features of the web today have granted people unprecedented opportunities to impact even the strongest of business reputations—positively or negatively. As such, it is more important than ever to monitor and protect your online reputation. There are many online channels to stay on top of and many ways to monitor them, but here are seven to start with.
One of the most obvious ways to monitor your online reputation is to check review sites such as Yelp. Many online directories allow anyone to add a listing, so even if you didn’t list your business, it may still be on there, collecting reviews. Be sure to claim your listings wherever possible, and monitor these sites frequently. If you do in fact see a negative review, don’t panic! As long as you know how to respond properly, you’ll be okay.
Another way to monitor your online reputation is through Google Alerts. Google will notify you whenever new content is published online containing keywords that you choose. You might set up alerts for your name, your business’s name, common misspellings of your business name. With Google Alerts, you can stay on top of what’s being said about your business, so you can catch and resolve negative reviews and acknowledge and engage back with positive mentions. You might even create an alert for your competitors’ names, to keep tabs on their activity and what others are saying about them.
Checking your social media accounts is a must for monitoring your online reputation. Even if you can’t post every day, you should still check your accounts every day to keep up with engagement. Just like with online reviews, it’s important to respond to both the positive and negative comments and mentions of your business. You can also set up email or mobile notifications so that you can be aware of posts as they are published.
Keep in mind that you should not just monitor your profiles and posts. Stay on top of others’ mentions of your handles and uses of your custom hashtags as well. This can ensure that your audience is using them often and appropriately, and also that your hashtag isn’t overlapping with someone else’s.
Enabling and engaging with comments on your business blog is a great way to learn more about your audience and get new post ideas. However, this puts you at risk for negative and spam comments as well.
Spam comments—whether positive or negative—will shed your business in a negative light. Canned comments like these will detract from the genuineness of your blog. Even comments that are gibberish and obviously spam can indicate to your visitors that you don’t check your blog often, which might discourage non-spammers from posting comments.
Partnering with other businesses is a great way to increase exposure, cross-promote, and cut costs. However you may want to do a quick check on the online reputation of your partner-to-be before engaging with them.
If you do find negative mentions of this business, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to trust those mentions or find a new partner—although you may choose to. The point is to be aware of and prepared for any potential consequences of partnering with a business with a questionable online reputation.
If you are just building your reputation or repairing from a setback, it may be best not to associate yourself with other businesses who may be going through the same thing.
Your current customers and social media followers can also help you to monitor your online reputation. Don’t be afraid to use surveys or polls to get a sense of how users are experiencing your website and other online channels of engagement. Just be sure to keep your surveys short and convenient, and not too frequent.
With greater than ever speed and accessibility, your online reputation can take on a life of its own. Start with these seven strategies so that you can take control of how your business gets represented online.