Online reputation is one of the most vital elements in marketing your business, but it is also one of the most overlooked. Most small business owners have a lot of things on their plate and are often forced into the role of “Jack (or Jill) of all trades,” in order to keep their businesses running smoothly. It isn’t always practical – or possible – to be proactive with online reputation management, but neglecting it could be catastrophic in the future in terms of lost revenue and damage control. Here are five things to consider about online reputation management:
1) Informed consumers – Most consumers pay attention to online reviews. A case study done by ModernComment found that 90% of consumers use online reviews to make buying decisions, and 72% of consumers trust online reviews from complete strangers as much as personal recommendations.
2) You can’t hide – It isn’t possible to opt-out of reputation management, and ignoring it only makes it worse. Having occasional issues arise with customers is an inevitable part of business. The way you address those issues is critical to your online reputation. According to a study by PhoCusWright, 78% of respondents said that seeing management respond to reviews made them believe that they care more about them.
3) Be everywhere – The more online exposure your business has, the better. Creating a web presence on every relevant platform will not only make your business more attractive to a broader range of consumers, but it will increase your rank in search engines.
4) Stay engaged – Handling social media poorly is actually worse than not having a presence at all. Simply having social media accounts isn’t enough, interacting with customers is the easiest way to increase your influence and earn trust from potential customers. Social media accounts that look abandoned or neglected project a negative image of your business.
5) Choose your words carefully – You can do a lot of damage to your online reputation very quickly without even realizing the impact your words have on your audience. Trying to win an argument online will never work in your favor and puts you at risk of appearing petty or harsh. It is important to be as professional as possible and not get drawn in to conflict or situations that could be better handled offline.