Just look up yourself on Google and you will find a Facebook page, probably a LinkedIn account. There are also other sources that you may have not heard of but they have some information on you. It is absolutely imperative to alter the way your name appears anywhere in the search engines. This also falls in the category of search engine optimization. While it is essential for any business to flaunt only the neutral or positive content online, there are ways in a small budget that can help the small businesses protect their online reputation. Better control the way how your business, and its products/services, is perceived now, when you have only commenced, before it’s too late to cover up. There is much confusion regarding online brand and reputation management.
Some think it’s only for brands who get themselves in trouble and need to cover up the bad. Some think it’s public relations, while others think it’s just social media monitoring or some ninja SEO tricks. The truth is every brand has a reputation regardless if they think they do or not. Your brand is the sum of what people think, say and tell other people about you. You can spend all the money in the world to create a beautiful brand inclusive of digital elements and visuals, fancy logo, website, blog and social media channels and profiles. However, if you don’t deliver on your brand promise it’s all for nothing. Your brand is the foundation of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business, corporation or something in between you impact your brand with every action you take.
Every tweet, call, post on Facebook, Instagram photo, Google+ update is a representation of your brand. Every employee that works for you is leaving hundreds of brand impressions every day online and offline. They are talking about you! Yes, people are talking about your brand, your executives, your service and your employees. They are talking about what you do right and what you have screwed up on. The question is do you know what they are saying? Are you part of the conversation? Or are you choosing to ignore it? Maintaining a positive reputation can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to your business. Even before the rise of the Internet twenty years ago, favorable word of mouth was the lifeblood of every thriving business, and now that the Internet has become ubiquitous, reputation is more important than ever.
Whether your business is just starting out or you’ve got a decades-old company that’s flourishing, you need to maintain your online reputation carefully. All businesses need to keep track of an online reputation. It only takes a couple of hours for a bad customer experience to go viral and impact your bottom line. It’s even worse if you don’t know it’s happening and you’re not on top of the situation. Here are the 5 tips every entrepreneur should know to manage their online reputation:
Run A Name Search
The first step to managing your online reputation is to find out just what your reputation is in cyberspace. If you have ever made a comment, liked a post, or shared a link, chances are, you have an online profile, whether you know it or not. As a real estate agent it is imperative that you figure out whether or not your online reputation is a positive or a negative one. Search the different search engines, not just one: Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. You may have to browse through several pages to get one that pulls your name or your business name up. Try several combinations of your full name, your last name, your business name, and any screen names you might have used in the past.
Secondly, go to social media sites and search for your profiles there. For each site, click on the link and read what has been said about you or your company. If there are negative comments, save the link, note the poster, and keep reading. Even if most comments are positive, don’t disregard the negative ones. When managing your online reputation, the best place to start is with an Internet search to see what people are saying about you. No matter how new or small your business is, the odds are good that someone out there is saying something. So do a little digging to see what the general attitudes are toward your business. This research can give you a baseline for where you should start when it comes to managing your online presence and offer an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of customers.
People like to read content that is human and sounds not-so-corporate, given your target market. For this you need to portray all the originalities and be as transparent to the audience as possible. It helps them to stay connected and aids you in developing an understanding of the consumer behavior. Another side effect of the Internet is that everyone expects companies to be totally transparent. Social media has opened the floodgates of communication, all but eliminating the barriers between companies and their customers. Consumers want to be able to talk directly to representatives of a company, and they expect the company to respond to their questions and concerns. Do your best to maintain a transparent online presence and allow your employees to interact online with clients.
Believe it or not, one errant tweet can wreck havoc on an otherwise thriving business. Your next move is to admit to mistakes and do your best to fix them. In many cases, people like to give second chances; this means you can redeem yourself. Be frank about the mistake, even if you don’t go into detail. Apologize, and describe the steps you are taking to fix it. Digging in and denying the problem won’t help–it will only make things worse. You can overcome a poor online reputation, but you need to start by projecting openness and regret to win back trust. It’s important to continue building relationships with your audience. Online reputation management has a lot to do with how many people actually believe what is being said about you. Create a brand that people love, and you’ll weather most storms. Reach out to your fans and let them do the fighting for you.
Join Social Networks
For best results, create a Facebook profile, Twitter account, and Tumblr page for your company at the very least. Not only will utilizing these sites expand the influence of your brand, but they can also allow you and your business to show a bit of personality. Sure, you have a business to run, but there’s no reason that you can’t build a reputation for sending out funny tweets or posting gorgeous pictures on your business’ Facebook page. And if you continually add new content to these sites, you can keep your customers constantly engaged. You need to remain relevant if you want to show up higher in search results. Keep your site and social updated so that you are relevant. This means you need to keep your content fresh and pay attention to your social media strategy. It’s possible to hire others to help with your content creation so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Just make sure you are putting out the freshest, most relevant info so that it pushes the other stuff down in the search results. There are many influencers and websites out there that allow guest blogging feature. It is a way of allowing external contribution to their website so that it has a blend of quality content from elsewhere. Later when the contributor promotes it on their channels, the website and the contributor together tastes the fruit of success. Offer to write guest posts and ask for a link back to your website. Make sure that you look for a prominent blog over the Internet so that it can push down any negative publicity and get you traffic. Create pages for your business profiles on various social media networks. If there are so many for you to manage then it is not necessary to get your presence just about everywhere. Simply take some time out to figure out where your audience is and set up accounts over there only.
Treat Negative Reviews Respectfully
If you are to go for a vacation, you are instantly going to check the resort before you book, look up its social media profiles and read the reviews. The last part is important, yes, reviews. This is what all of us are relying on these days because reviews come first-hand from the consumers of the very services. That’s where negative reviews come in too. What most businesses do is that they encourage the consumers with positive experiences to post on various sites they have created like Google Places, Yahoo! Local and even Yelp.com. What about when you are to respond to a negative review? Don’t throw a marketing-spiel or you will be experiencing Internet trolls. Be open to them and promise to make corrections or offer them something positive. Inevitably, no matter how solid your online reputation is, you may still get negative comments or feedback online.
Whether it is from a competitor or an old client of yours, the way that you respond to negative reviews can have a lasting impact on your online reputation – either for good or for bad. Even if the comment or post is unfair, even more than in face-to-face interactions, it is extremely important that you always take the high road. Negative word of mouth can be a killer for your business. So as you’re conducting regular checkups of your online reputation, be on the lookout for comments or reviews that paint your company in a harmful light. Often, negative comments result from simple misunderstandings or an interaction that didn’t live up to a customer’s expectations. If you find an unflattering review, then see if you can reach out to the person who left it and correct the situation. Every once in a while, businesses will find negative reviews that are entirely baseless, and in these cases, you can contact the administrators of the review site and try to have them taken down.
Track Your Online Image
Keep a close check on your business. Often look up in different search engines and see what comes up. Check all the links mentioned and see what you can control. Regular monitoring will save you from a series of crisis created in the future. Reputation is a sensitive matter. Once established, it needs to be constantly maintained in order to protect the brand. Use the aforementioned tips as tools to help you manage your reputation online and you will never regret a day in your life. Take the matter of online reputation management of your brand into your very own hands or get a reputation management agency to do it for you. Either ways, just get it done before it’s too late. After you have finished setting up your online profile in the way that you best feels represents your personal brand, you have to stay on top of it. The best way to do that is to sign up for alerts whenever your name or business name is mentioned online.
Google Alerts is one of the most widely used, but there are several other search engine alerts that offer the same service. Marketing and public relations is a completely different ballgame than it was 10-20 years ago. Now, there are a plethora of ways brands can shape their image across the web. However, one of the realities businesses must come to terms with is that it is a 24/7 task. In terms of getting a startup off the ground, one must utilize current digital strategies to establish credibility out of the gate. First off, one of the most effective strategies we know is SEO. SEO is a quintessential example of quality over quantity. To be impactful, businesses need to keep a very close eye on analytics. Without a firm grasp, you won’t be able to gauge how brand content is resonating. Be sure you are frequently monitoring website metrics like traffic, time on page, CTR and bounce rate.