The song says, “I don’t give a damn ‘bout my bad reputation.” Those lyrics sounded fun and rebellious when Joan Jett sang them but taking that attitude when it comes to your online reputation can be disastrous to your business.
Not caring about your online reputation is a mistake. And your online reputation consists of more than your carefully-thought-out website and social media pages.
Most importantly, your online reputation is something you can control – for the most part. Here’s what you need to know.
The Elements of Your Online Reputation
Your online reputation is the total of everything shown or said about your company online. That means that all of these play a role in creating your reputation:
- The quality and design of your website
- Your blog
- Your social media pages and posts
- Your online reviews
- Your testimonials and professional credentials
- Your online business listings
In other words, you can have the best website in the world. But, if your online reviews are terrible and you’re not managing them properly, your reputation may be significantly less wonderful than you want it to be.
How to Get a Handle on Your Online Reputation
Not sure what your online reputation says about you? The first step is doing a reputation audit. That means Googling your company and getting into the nitty gritty of what people are saying about you – and what they think.
I suggest starting with Google and scrolling at least the first three pages of results. Visit any sites that mention your business and read what they say about you. Make notes of any factual inaccuracies or negative comments – you’ll need those down the line.
Likewise, track your social media mentions. If you don’t know what people are saying about you on Twitter or Instagram, it’s possible that you could be allowing incorrect or negative information about your company to spread.
Make a list of all review sites where consumers have reviewed your company. At the same time, audit your NAP listings so you can standardize them and consolidate your online presence.
Claim Your Listings on Review Sites
Next, visit every review site where your company is listed and do what you need to do to claim the listings. The process may be involved, so it’s important to start as soon as possible.
Once you have claimed your listings, you should:
- Update all relevant information about your business
- Create compelling descriptions
- Upload photographs (include images of the inside and outside of your business)
- Set up a system for responding to all reviews, positive and negative
Negative reviews aren’t the end of the world, but they can cause real problems if you don’t respond to them promptly and professionally. Remember, every negative review is an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about your customers.
Get More Reviews
Reviews play a huge role in your reputation because more than 80% of all consumers read reviews before purchasing a product. Old reviews don’t carry as much weight as new ones. That means it’s your job to encourage your customers to leave reviews.
Here are a few creative ways to get more reviews:
- Create an email sequence to ask your customers to write reviews, including links to one or more review sites.
- Explain how easy it is to leave a review.
- Provide a basic review template for your customers to use.
- Give products to charities or do pro bono work. Not only will you generate some good karma, but it’s likely the people who are at the receiving end of your generosity will say positive things about your business.
- Incentivize your employees to ask for reviews.
- Give customers a small freebie when you ask them for a review. It’s unethical to offer remuneration for reviews but giving a gift that the recipient can keep regardless of whether they review your business is fine.
- Send a handwritten, personalized note asking for a review.
- If a customer praises you or expresses gratitude, thank them and ask if they’ve left a review. If they haven’t, tell them how grateful you’d be if they would share their experiences in a review.
- Respond to all reviews. Customers who look up a business on Yelp may be more likely to leave a review after the fact if they see that the business owner regularly responds to reviews.
Many of the same rules apply to testimonials. The best time to ask for a testimonial is when you know the customer is likely to be highly satisfied. For example, a real estate agent might ask for a testimonial right after a successful closing, or a wedding photographer might ask after delivering the pictures to a happy couple.
Make Reputation Management a Priority
The key to keeping your reputation strong is to make managing it a priority for yourself and your employees. That means doing the following:
- Creating high-quality, relevant content for your website and social media pages
- Keeping up with technological advances – adding chatbots to your website, using automation to improve customer service, and providing self-service options are all examples. Another key example: accepting mobile payments at your business.
- Regularly engaging and interacting with your fans, followers, and customers
- Monitoring your social media mentions and responding when it’s appropriate to do so
- Having a system in place to regularly request reviews and testimonials
- Responding to all reviews, good and bad, in a professional manner
- Asking your online followers for their opinions and listening to their concerns and suggestions
- Regularly showing appreciation to your most loyal customers and incentivizing them to become brand ambassadors
While it’s true that you can’t control every aspect of your online reputation, you can control a lot of it. By taking an active interest, engaging with your followers online, and making their satisfaction a priority, you can give your reputation a boost.
Ultimately, your online reputation plays a big role in your success. In just a few minutes a day, you can implement procedures that will ensure your online reputation remains strong – and helps you to attract new business and retain your most loyal customers.
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