Managing your online reputation can feel as if you’re walking through a maze blind-folded, especially if you don’t know the layout or where to start. You need to know the information inside, what the consequences are and how to rectify a wrong. Done correctly, your online reputation will help provide a boost in your sales conversions and leads.
For SMEs in particular, generating positive reviews and feedback can be time-consuming and seem like hard work for little reward, however, surveys suggest that on average, as many as 84% of consumers will check your reputation before making a purchase. If there are no reviews or feedback, this can sometimes be more damaging than a few reviews or even some negative reviews which have been responded to appropriately.
We’ve put together 6 key areas to focus on for your online reputation management:
1. Search online for yourself and your business name
Search your name or company on Google search and set up a Google alert system. This allows you receive notifications daily to stay updated with content posted about yourself or your company. This is often helpful, particularly if a disgruntled customer decides to leave reviews on platforms which you’ve not got an account set up on, such as forums, review websites and social media.
2. Keep your website and online presence updated regularly
Everywhere that your business is being displayed online make sure that you keep both your content and images up to date to stay connected with your audience. Keep this content creative and put a lot of effort into it, as it will be the face of your business that everyone sees when they search for you. It is also good practice to post interesting articles and add your own comments to your online presence as this will improve overall business reach and possibly your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
3. Reviews, reviews, and more reviews!
Consumers often will hunt around the internet to find information and reviews before purchasing a product or service from a new business. They are more likely to do this on a third-party website instead of your own because it is less likely to be biased. There are lots of third-party websites that you can use for your business but some are more tailored to specific industries than others, for example, Checkatrade is the most popular website for tradesmen but would be of no use for an accountancy firm. The more generic reviews websites that are important for all businesses to use such as; Google My Business, Trustpilot and Reviews.co.uk.
When dealing with reviews it is important to focus resolving on the negative issues. Statistically, consumers looking for reviews will search for negative reviews to find out where the potential problems with your business are. As a result, businesses need to make sure that the reviews are all professional and accurately responded to so that potential customers can see that A) the business cares and B) they know the likely outcome if they run into that problem.
4. Join social networks (not just Facebook!)
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are only a handful of the top social network sites that can be used to benefit your business. These sites allow you to reach your specific target audience much more directly than updating content on your website. It is also recommended to join Tumblr, Pinterest and YouTube, to engage with your audience in a more visual way.
Each social media will benefit your business in different ways as they all very unique. Facebook is a very personal site where uses will often come to find local business to help them with personal problems. Having positive reviews on your Facebook business page is very important when attracting those new potential customers. LinkedIn is a much more professional site where you should display your business in the best possible way to appeal to a mass audience. Instagram is very heavily based on images allows you to use talk about your business differently. A lot of people prefer to look at images rather than read text so it is important to make sure your images are high quality and unique to you so that they can be to represent who you are.
To increase your social media presence, you can use third-party apps and websites to schedule and plan to add new content throughout the month. Use this to implement new information regarding your business and be sure to engage with everyone that likes and comments on your posts.
5. Optimize your presence on these sites
Keep all of your content consistent across all of your websites and social media. Clean up and fill your sites as best as possible to keep your audience interested and engaged. Link everything together so that your users have the best quality experience if they would like to go from one site to another. Top tip: Keep your usernames and domain names all the same or as similar as they can be. They should all be simple so that your customers do not get confused trying to find you online or on a different social media.
6. Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private.
Protect your content on all social media sites, business or personal. Visit the settings on all applications and thoroughly select what you want to be public and private. This can protect all content you post, but more importantly, control what others post about you and who can view it. Particularly for SMEs, ensure that your personal profiles are completely locked out from visitors who are not connected with you. Facebook for example, has a privacy tool that allows you to view your profile as if you weren’t connected. This will allow you to see which information is visible publically.
You are now more prepared to manage your online reputation. Begin with registering your own domain and building a website, create a clear and straight-forward approach on social media sites, post regularly and be sure to monitor and hold full control of all your platforms.