Ninety-seven percent of consumers in North America read online reviews to learn more about a business. If you are not taking an active role in how your business is being perceived online then it’s time to start.
Reputation management is vital to succeed online today. In this article we have compiled helpful tips to help you manage your online presence, respond and learn from and reviews, and discover how to use search engine optimization (SEO) to help your pages rank!
Let’s get started!
1. Create A Consistent Online Presence
In order to manage your online reputation, you need to BE online. Create accounts for your business that are applicable to your industry. These go beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Though, you should have those too!).
Do some research to find popular sites in your industry. For example, if your business provides home services, consider creating an account on Houzz. Are you a B2B company that’s looking for hot leads? LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups will become your kingdom.
Delve into the digital world and find your niche. Among the websites we’ve listed above, you can also create accounts on Pinterest, Flickr, and Vimeo. Keep in mind that not every industry will thrive on these platforms. Do some research of your own to find out if your business will be a good fit.
2. Make Social Media A Priority
Social media is no longer just for friends and family. Users are turning to social media to follow brands, learn more about a business, and of course, share their grievances with the world.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are replacing email complaints and comments. In fact, in the past two years, customer interactions on Twitter have increased 250 percent.
Reputation management begins with your customers. Respond to their comments, listen and always apologize.
Social media is an essential part of business today. These platforms are putting the user in your hand and encouraging engagement. All they expect in return is a response.
3. Don’t Ignore Google (Or Google My Business)
When it comes to reviews, Google should be one of your many areas of focus. With more than 3.5 billion searches made per day, you cannot afford to take a blind eye to your reviews.
Manage your online reputation on Google by claiming your Google My Business local listing and page. Manage your free listing directly, read and respond to reviews, and control your address, phone number, contact information, and photos.
An incredible 56 percent of local businesses have not claimed their listing. Be part of the proactive 44 percent that are taking reviews into their own hands.
Google reviews may be important but remember that Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare reviews can be equally important. Tackle your reviews on every platform for the best results.
4. Reply to Every Review
You cannot expect to effectively manage your reviews if you don’t reply. Reply to each and every review, the good, bad, and ugly. Avoid defensive language and always be gracious and genuine.
Users seek out reviews to see what others are saying. When users stumble upon a negative review that has not been replied to, they’re only getting half of the story. Reply promptly and offer compensation and your sincerest apologies. Not only do you have the potential to win back a customer, your genuine response may sway a prospective customer.
Replies should always be conducted in a timely manner. A great rule of thumb is to reply within 24 hours Monday through Friday, and 48 hours Saturday and Sunday.
5. Encourage Customers to Review
Studies show that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust friends.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews whenever your business completes a service.
Don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave reviews. If they’re thrilled with the service you’ve provided they’ll be happy to help.
A few clever ways to encourage reviews is to:
- Ask in-person once service has been provided.
- Include a link to leave a review on your monthly newsletter.
- Make it easy to leave reviews by adding a “Leave Us a Review” button on your website.
Set internal goals every quarter to keep momentum and ensure that the number of your reviews never go stagnant.
6. Encourage Honest Reviews
Honesty is always the best policy. Everyone loves five-star reviews, but they should be earned, not just given.
Genuine, honest reviews are powerful tools for business.
If you’re hovering around a 4 or 4.5 rating, don’t worry! 94 percent of customers said they’d use a business with a four-star rating and 68 percent claimed they trusted a business with a mixture of positive and negative reviews.
Encourage honest reviews of service and reply to every review.
7. Listen and Learn from Your Reviews, Even the Negative Ones
Reviews are windows into the services that you offer. Negative online reviews may be the byproduct of a bad day or peeved customer, but if you’re receiving consistent reviews mentioning a specific service or aspect of your business, listen!
Address any issues, be it customer service concerns or a specific employee complaint. Negative reviews are also an opportunity to build your brand. Genuinely apologize and offer compensation when it’s warranted.
What you don’t want to do is argue. Arguing a negative review is acceptable maybe one out of a hundred times… maybe.
One of the most popular “What Not To Do” examples is the now infamous Amy’s Baking Company.
On an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay met Amy and Salomon “Samy” Bouzaglo, restaurant owners in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not only did they refuse to believe any of their negative reviews–literal dozens of reviews–they actively sought them out and argued each one.
The episode and its subjects were so abrasive and unmanageable, focusing on each negative review as though it were a personal dig, it led to eventually closing their doors permanently.
If there was ever a cautionary small business tale about the importance of reputation management, it’s that one.
8. It’s Never Too Late to Apologize
Everyone has bad days, sometimes there are fires that you just can’t put out. If your business finds yourself on the wrong side of service, own up to it and apologize.
A genuine apology goes a long way online. Some customers may even respond with gratitude and understanding.
Apologize and offer compensation if you feel that it is warranted. Compensation can turn angry customers into satisfied ones. On platforms like Facebook and Google, the user may even edit their review to add a star or two and an extra line.
Customers check reviews before choosing a business. If they find a negative one, a genuine apology may be the deciding factor.
9. Don’t Stoop Down to “Trolls”
Negative reviews are almost a guarantee, especially once your business expands and has a few years under its belt. While there is a protocol when it comes to negative reviews, many businesses fail to anticipate are “trolls”.
A troll is internet slang for someone that consciously tries to stir up the pot by posting rude, inflammatory comments online.
If your business has the misfortune of being plagued with a troll or two, don’t panic, but act quickly. Don’t hesitate to block someone who is obsessively commenting, reviewing, or spreading rumors about your business.
The most important lesson is to not stoop to their level. Delete the comments, attempt to assuage the review, but do not fight back. If you reply with a vengeance, you’re only pouring more fuel to the fire.
10. Invest In Reputation Management
Reputation management is a round-the-clock job. The only downside to social media is that there are no “off” switches. Comments and reviews can come at any hour of the day, any day of the week. An upset or frustrated customer doesn’t take the day off.
As a hardworking business, you may not have the time to respond to each comment, every review, positive or negative. Crafting response after response takes a lot of time and energy. Enlist a trusted member of your team to help carry the load, or hire someone specifically for the role. Reputation management should never be left and forgotten. Have an active role online and you will control what is being said about your business.
Don’t be afraid to outsource the job with a third party reputation management source. Reputation management programs vary depending on your needs. While most are integrated with social media to monitor mentions and delete inappropriate comments, others have a more web-based approach to reply to messages and negative comments on posts or blog articles.
Trust us, it’s worth a little time and money.
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