The internet has set a new yardstick for business to customer relations, making the task of managing your online reputation much harder. Which raises the essential question, what can small businesses do to build, protect and preserve their online reputation?
The reputation of your brand has a much larger impact than Google or Yelp reviews. Experts have spent a long time researching and offering advice on managing online reviews and ratings for small startups. News spreads like wildfire and because 88% of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase decision, how you manage your online reputation could make or mar your business.
Create a presence on relevant social media platforms
Serious brands have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and others. In a highly competitive niche, you may need to target sites specific to your industry to reach the core of clients who are in most need of your services. To get your startup up and running, you must utilize press releases to gain traction and keep up with social media trends to stay relevant with your audience. Merely having a social media account isn’t enough, you need to nurture these accounts to engage customers and increase influence. No one knows how Bing and Google measures social media account strengths but you can use online tools such as Kred and Klout to know when you’re achieving success.
Consistency is key
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The internet is a fast-paced environment where it is impossible to avoid a public error. Consistency is the livewire of maintaining an online reputation, especially with the current levels of online transparency.
“One of the biggest mistake a brand will ever make is to ignore a crisis as it tarnishes the image of the brand,” says Alana Benson from Online Reputation Experts www.digitalox.co.uk .
“When an error or accident happens, keep customers informed and the bad news will be forgotten with a consistent flow of relevant content and products”. You could offer another product to redeem the mistake and keep customers happy.
Look for pointers in success stories
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Your first approach to online reputation management shouldn’t be immediate action. Observe successful brands, analyze what’s working for them, keep up with patterns and use their content to gain inspiration for yours. With tools like Mention or Brandwatch, you can see how well the content of the biggest names in your industry are performing and figure out the best way to apply their winning approach to your strategy.
Protect key individuals associated with your brand
A strong social media profile for your executives and key influencers of your brand is a good way to drive –off defamers. Your company’s identity is entangled with your executives; hence, consumers will search for ranks within your niche such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers. Create profiles that will make them rank high to ensure that when people search for professionals in your niche, they come out on top.
Start a blog
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Blogging is a massive weapon for local SEO because it will boost your site ranking through proper use of trending keywords. It also provides an avenue for you to clarify any assertions made about your company while establishing your brand as a reliable authority within your niche.
When responding to bad reviews or complaints consider what needs to be addressed from your end especially if it’s a repetitive complaint. Don’t be rigid because, in business, the right way to succeed is to give the customers what they want without creating fiction.