For just a moment, consider the last time you went out for dinner and wanted to give a new restaurant a try. What made you choose the restaurant that you did? If you’re like the majority of individuals, you likely looked online and scoured review sites to look for a restaurant with solid reviews, which meant a good reputation. Though a positive online reputation is good for restaurants—who obviously rely on good reviews to get customers through the doors—is it important for your business?
We are well aware that modern consumers and businesses rely on the World Wide Web to locate services and produces that they need. They use social media, review platforms, and your website to create an opinion about the businesses they locate, and ultimately, buy from. They’re doing this with your business as well.
This particular opinion is sometimes swayed by factors like website content and layout, location in the search results, presence on social media, reviews and listings, and more. Regardless of what you are able to say or do, your reputation—online or otherwise—does indeed matter. Luckily, the power is in your hands to manage it.
Reputation Management Defined
Before we dive into managing your reputation, it is important to first understand what reputation management is. Essentially, reputation management is managing your reputation, which is the way your company is perceived by others. However, here at WebDetail, we like to go into more detail. There are two points to reputation management:
- Monitoring and influencing a business’s or brand’s online reputation
- Addressing negative reviews or mentions
When taking a look at reputation management, the majority of experts tend to agree that there are three types that businesses can take part in.
- Building – This tends to be carried out by new businesses or businesses that are attempting to build a reliable brand or good name for themselves.
- Maintenance – This type of management tends to be carried out by businesses who have an established reputation that customers currently view as good, and the goal is to maintain this reputation.
- Recovery – This particular form of management is for businesses whose reputation has taken a hit for some reason, such as bad reviews. It mainly consists of self-promotion and good marketing with the primarily goal of helping your business recover.
How Can a Brand Establish an Online Reputation?
If you’re just starting a business or aiming to begin reputation management, online is where you want to start. The reason for this is due to the fact that the internet is where most individuals post reviews and look for intel and craft their own opinions. Here are five different ways you can start building your online reputation.
- Start a Blog – With a blog that is updated on a regular basis and with articles that cover what your business is doing, how you utilize systems, observances regarding products or markets, etc., you are establishing yourself as an expert in your field. The key here is that you are posting articles regularly—like twice weekly—and that are relevant to your audience.
- Get Listed in Article Directories – Similar to telephone directories, online article directories allow web users to search for company sites by certain categories (such as what is offered). By having your website listed in the directory, traffic will be driven to your site so that additional reputation management methods can take over.
- Encourage Reviews – Reviews are very important. According to results that were published on reputation.com, 92 percent of users read online reviews. Further, according to Cone, Inc., 89 percent of users actually put their faith in these online reviews. You should encourage your customers to leave a review of your company and/or your services on online review platforms. It can even help to talk to vendors and other companies you do business with, as this can boost your reputation.
- Gain Publicity – You are not going to be able to successfully establish a positive reputation if you don’t do anything. You must work on it by getting out there, writing some blogs for other blogs, doing some website advertising, and simply promoting your business in any way that you can.
- Go Social – Reputation.com, on behalf of Harris Interactive, reports that 78 percent of consumers believe it’s important to look up intel or businesses online prior to doing business with them. Some will begin researching on social media, and the number of individuals who are doing this is increasing. If you have active profiles on the major social media platforms, you’re more likely to be located and considered to have a better reputation.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and your reputation won’t be either. You will need to put hard work into it, with constant updates and monitoring, and it is imperative that you be patient. Most experts agree that it takes three months or longer to realize results, and it may take years for a solid reputation to truly be established.
What Steps Can Be Taken To Protect a Reputation?
If your reputation is already established, you need to focus on maintaining or protecting it. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
- Know What Can Be Controlled – While it is to encourage your customers to write online reviews, you have no control over what they actually write. Therefore, it is important to monitor what’s being said and attempt to respond to negative reviews as often and best you can. Ultimately, the best option is to focus on what you are able to control: search rankings. Try to post more relevant, informative content and articles. While this may take longer, it will pay off in the end.
- Know How to Monitor Your Reputation – There are numerous ways that your reputation can be monitored. Some companies trust companies that specialize in reputation management, while other businesses choose to put their trust into apps like Google Alerts, Social Mention, or MonitorThis that can track certain keywords like the name of your company and send immediate alerts for mentions. You can then take the necessary action as you see fit. The key with this is to look for solutions that meets your individual needs and preferences. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, hiring a company to do it for you is likely ideal.
- The Internet Is Important – Even if you do not rely heavily on the Internet, it is wise to know that the bulk of your customers do. You should take the steps needed to monitor your online reputation, especially where your customers are concerned. Begin by searching for the name and location of your company. Look at the results and online reviews people are leaving. You could be surprised at what you see.
The important thing here to remember it to attempt to maintain the status-quo. If you’ve been doing something for some time that is working well for your reputation, then keep doing it. If something is only moderately successful, take the time to tweak it to see how your customers respond to the small improvements. If your customers are seeing negative reviews and response, address them as soon as possible.
5 Mistakes Commonly Made by Reputation Managers
It isn’t uncommon for companies to make mistakes when attempting to repair or manage their reputation. In fact, here are five of them.
- Paying for Positive Reviews to Be Posted – It may be tempting to work with companies that will create numerous social media accounts and then post fake reviews on the internet. However, paying for positive reviews will do more harm than good when it comes to the reputation of your company, particularly when it appears in Google search results. This is due to the fact that the search engine giant punishes sites that take part in actions like these because the reviews are not true. They will push your site lower in the results, which simply damages your reputation more. The best thing you can do is to have clients who enjoy your product or service to say so online or in person. Encourage them to write reviews on relevant sites.
- Encouraging Trolls – Trolls are constantly looking for ways to post defaming or harmful comments that can get reactions from other individuals. If you notice comments or reviews that can be damaging, avoid getting into arguments with them. A number of reputations have been ruined as a result of the business manager seeing negative comments (regardless of whether from a troll or not), getting angry, and firing back on a website. This makes the manager as well as the company appear unprofessional, turning consumers away. Instead, you should simply acknowledge the comment as feedback and encourage that the poster content you directly privately in person or via e-mail. If the comment is somewhat negative like poor service or a bad meal at the restaurant, then acknowledge the comment and let them know how it will be fixed. It doesn’t hurt to give them a discount on the subsequent purchase.
- Astroturfing – Astroturfing refers to creating anonymous accounts on various websites that can be used to create positive reviews, lash out against negative comments, and post advertising. Like paying for positive reviews, this act can do damage to your reputation if it gets out that you are partaking in this particular tactic. Ultimately, this method defeats the overall purpose of having reviews. Reviews are designed to reflect your business’s true nature, not what the company thinks of itself. In the end, it is best to avoid astroturfing completely, regardless of how tempted you may be to partake in it.
- Lying – Though people are aware of the fact that lying is unethical and just plain wrong, they do it anyway. Companies may lie about services, products, results, or anything online simply because it is easy to lie when they’re behind a computer screen. It’s recommended to resist taking part in lying. Instead, do the opposite: be completely open and transparent. While there may come a time when this hurts you, you will be able to recover quicker if you are open and honest about things.
- Ignoring Customers – Similar to lying, ignoring the customer may seem like common sense. However, the customer is the whole reason you’re in business; you’re there to serve the customer, so if you choose to ignore them, you will turn them away. If you have an upset or angry customer, the last thing you want to do is ignore them, as it makes it appear like you don’t care. Instead, focus on being prompt with your responses and try to address all concerns. While this may be impossible all the time, but if you try to address your customer’s concerns, your company will be viewed in a far more positive light, providing a much better reputation overall.
It’s not easy to manage your reputation, and we understand that here at WebDetail. However, by investing time and effort into reputation management, the payoff in the end will be great. If you need some help with managing your reputation, get in touch with us today to see how WebDetail can help you.