If you searched your business online, what would you find? From your website and social media profiles to customer reviews and directory sites, each piece of information about your company on the internet can be a deciding factor in whether potential customers do business with you. Managing your online reputation is no longer optional; it’s critical. But how do you do it exactly?
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is how you create, nurture and protect your business’s reputation online. It’s controlling your brand story in a way that influences public perception of your company for the better.
Why is it important?
Like it or not, what others say about your business can impact your bottom line. Effective ORM keeps a pulse on your brand reputation and helps you:
Show up in more searches
Reach a local audience
Improve customer satisfaction
Build brand trust and loyalty
Identify and mitigate risk
Resolve complaints quickly
Increase online reviews
Remove inaccurate information
How do I get started?
Think of yourself as your company’s personal PR firm. Your ORM goal should be to promote your business as desirable, relevant and trustworthy. But before you can manage your reputation, you need to know where it stands.
Google your name and the name of your business (2 separate searches). Make sure to enclose each in quotation marks to narrow your search results. Pay special attention to results from Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp and other online local business directories.
After your initial review, sign up for Google Alerts for your name and the name of your business to simplify keyword monitoring and get mentions delivered to your email inbox.
Why should I search my own name?
To determine how private your private information is. Remember, potential customers may research you (and your employees) as well as your business when deciding whether to spend money on your products and services. This is particularly true for certain high-ticket industries, such as home services and health care or when you are the face of your brand.
Create a social media policy so your employees don’t have to guess about your guidelines. When you clearly outline the do’s and don’ts of representing your company on social media, you help safeguard your brand reputation and diminish the likelihood of legal or security issues.
How often should I change my passwords?
Change all important passwords every few months – and don’t make them all the same. If they are all the same, and somehow your password is compromised, that person then has access to EVERYTHING. Be sure to avoid using words or number sequences that could be found in public records. Refrain from using birthdays, housing numbers or middle names.
How do I claim my business on online directories?
Fortunately, claiming your local business online is a relatively easy process, albeit tedious. Certain elements are the same across the board. You will need to:
Visit the online directory website
Check to see if your business is listed
Create a new listing or correct the existing one
Verify your business listing information
Also check that you have “claimed” your business on public review sites. Most of them have a button that says something like “is this your business?” Click yes, answer a few questions and voila, your page on that site is now official and controlled by you. This prevents any unauthorized person from taking control – if that happens, it becomes more difficult to get it back, so it’s better to be proactive.
What should I do if someone else claimed my business profile?
First, check that someone on your staff, particularly in marketing or social media, hasn’t claimed your business on your behalf.
If you find pages, profiles, etc., that are attempting to impersonate you or your brand, report them immediately. While major sites don’t remove profiles without a review (because competitors could spend all day reporting pages to have them taken down), they do take spam, bullying and false information very seriously and will take appropriate action.
Why should I care about online reviews?
73% of customers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Our online habits have shifted how we interact with businesses and make purchases, so much so that online reviews are increasing conversions by 270%.
Just as important as the review is how you respond, as 53% of customers expect a reply on review sites. Even more telling, businesses that answer negative reviews receive a 16% increase in customer advocacy.
How should I respond to positive reviews/feedback?
Take the time to like, respond, say thank you and offer to answer any questions personally to start developing a connection. That person may not be your next client, but your next client may take notice.
How should I respond to negative reviews/feedback?
Read the post more than once. Your instinct will be to be defensive, after all, it’s your name and your business under attack, but don’t. Take a step back. Walk away from the computer, go outside and take a lap. Come back and re-read it with a clear head and determine if the post author has a legitimate complaint. Negative posts and reviews should always be taken seriously. The way you respond will not only determine how that person views you and your business, but also how potential customers and clients view you. Craft a thoughtful response where you acknowledge their displeasure and do what you can to rectify the situation, publicly.
If the post is meant to intentionally harm you or your business or is blatantly untrue – you will need to address it as well, but with a different strategy. Acknowledge you’ve seen their complaint, politely address it publicly and take any necessary actions (blocking, reporting as spam, etc.) to protect your reputation. If needs be, take the conversation offline once you’ve publicly acknowledged it. For example, state that you take their concerns seriously and would like further information in a private message to get the full story and better handle the situation.
Note: Do not block comments or posts simply because they are negative. Part of establishing trust is letting everyone know that if something does go wrong, you are willing to step up and handle it.
You can control what is said about you and your business by telling your own story. The more positive content you personally publish, the more control you have over your reputation. Ultimately, positive posts, comments, reviews and shares benefit your online reputation. Bad reviews will happen. Spam and malicious content will surface at some point. Take swift action to mitigate risk and protect your online reputation.