As has always been the case, a poor reputation can put a business out of business. In times past, business owners had to worry that people would literally shout from the rooftops how dissatisfied they were. That worry hasn’t disappeared. The only difference is that these days, unhappy customers do most of their shouting from online rooftops. Hence the need to manage your online reputation. But to manage your online reputation, you must first have one. Otherwise, you’re in the same danger zone as those who’ve earned a bad name. So how can you develop a solid, positive reputation and maintain it?
Build Your Online Reputation
It’s vital that you pave the way for your good reputation. Otherwise, you may find yourself at the mercy of anyone who has something to say about your business. The collective first step to taking control of how your business is known and perceived is to:
- Launch a professional-quality company website
- Set up and optimize listings on online directories such as Google, Yelp, Manta, and others
- Maintain an active presence on social media, choosing the platforms your target market uses most to engage with their favorite brands
- Start a company blog where you can demonstrate your expertise and share valuable information with interested individuals
Once you have these things in place, you can shift your focus to reputation monitoring.
Monitor Your Reputation
What’s being said about you? Is it good or bad? What content is your audience responding well to and engaging with? Monitoring your reputation involves consistently seeking up-to-date answers to those questions. But especially as your business gains more exposure online, it can be difficult to keep up with all of this. There are various reputation monitoring tools that can make things simpler such as:
- Google Alerts to receive notifications when your brand name or anything related to your business is mentioned online
- Perch to track your (and your competitors’) social posts and reviews
- Google Analytics for in-depth blog and website statistics
- Rankur for social media management and social listening
Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means. There’s no shortage of monitoring tools out there to make your job easier so use them!
Engage With Your Audience
Once you’re aware of what your audience has to say and how they’re interacting with your business online, engagement is the next step. You should make a habit of responding to as many comments, reviews, and posts as possible. What would you hope to accomplish by doing this?
For one thing, engagement can improve your rankings in search results and boost your visibility, especially locally. Yet, there are other benefits too.
Responding politely and professionally to negative comments—whatever form they come in—achieves a few things. It:
- Lets the critical person know that you’re concerned about their satisfaction
- Lets onlookers know that you care about the overall experience you provide to those who interact with you
- Can give you more credibility and improve your image, as people see that you’re actively trying to handle concerns and complaints
- Can result in peaceful resolution and positive future comments
Responding to positive comments, reviews, and posts, on the other hand, can:
- Show your audience that you’re appreciative of your customers and other supporters
- Make commenters even more loyal to your business
- Motivate others to give positive feedback as well in hopes of engaging with you
- Reassure future customers that you are customer-focused
Best Practices For Replying to Feedback
To ensure that you experience the positive benefits of engagement, you’ll need to stick to these best practices.
- Don’t say the same generic thing to everyone. Individualize your replies.
- Always be professional, even when you receive unfair or harsh criticism.
- Always express gratitude regardless of whether a comment is positive or negative.
By repeating the process of monitoring and engaging, you’ll be able to maintain control of your online reputation and shape a positive perception of your business. But what else is involved in reputation management?
Compare Yourself to Your Competitors
You should also keep tabs on the online reputations of your closest competitors. Pay attention to the kind of feedback they are getting from their customers, what they seem to be doing well, and what they could work on. How do you stack up to them?
When combined with what you learn from the feedback you receive, you can determine how to improve and set your brand apart.
Tools you can use for this type of competitor analysis include:
- Quick Search
The best way to beat your competitors is not through trial and error; it’s by knowing where they stand and developing a strategy to elevate your brand.
Choose Reputation Management Over Repair
As mentioned previously, if you are not in control of your online reputation, someone else is. Don’t wait until your good name is damaged and in need of repair to start caring. It takes far more time, money, and energy to patch a marred rep than to build and maintain a positive one from the start. So choose the better route and opt for management now that you know what to do!
For more help with reputation management, download our free eBook below: