Online Reputation Management for Small Businesses
By Myles Henry
As a small business owner in UK you are always jumping from one project to the next with a million and one things to worry about.
But monitoring and controlling your online reputation and what people are saying about you and your business online isn’t such a petty thing to do after all, it’s actually critical and essential to growing your business.
Why You Need to Monitor Your Online Reputation
When your business is small or just getting started, it can be hard to imagine a time when people will be talking about your brand.
But as you grow, you will quickly find that people are in fact discussing you and more importantly, searching for what others have said about you.
So, you need to know and control what they find.
Because of What It Says to Customers
More than ever, consumers are researching companies online before they do business with them. Most importantly they look for reviews on the Google Maps Listing.
Potential customers will be far more likely to do business with you if they find positive reviews from others that have already worked with or purchased from you.
Because of What It Says to Prospective Employees
When you hire employees, you are now choosing them as much as they are choosing you.
Negative reviews by former or current employees can limited the number of people applying for jobs at your company and scare away top talent.
Where to Monitor Your Reputation
There are a few specific places where you should target your reputation searches.
Searching for yourself and your business on major search engines will help you see what information pops up when others research you.
Tip: Set up a Google Alert to notify you anytime something is published with keywords related to your business. Set up alerts for your name, company name, product names, and any common misspellings of those names.
Social Media Monitoring
People frequently share their opinions about businesses using social media. Make sure you regularly check the mentions of your brand on major social sites.
Tip: Set up a social media dashboard on a site like Buffer so that you can easily follow mentions of your brand and comments on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Google Reviews Monitoring
As mentioned above, reviews are extremely important in turning potential customers into paying customers. So, be sure to monitor the major review sites (Google, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List) to see what people are saying about your business, products, or services.
Tip: Set up a page on your website to share all of your positive reviews in one place. There are a lot of places to share reviews so make it easy on customers trying to find reviews about your business and compile them all somewhere on your site.
How to Handle a Negative Situation
If you find yourself in a situation where someone is bad-mouthing your brand or business…
1. Have a plan. Don’t wait for the fire before you start setting up the hoses. Have a plan for how often you will research your reputation and have a plan outlined for how you will deal with negative sentiment if it comes your way.
2. Don’t delete the negative comments. This will only make people angrier. Unless the post is vulgar or particularly offensive, don’t delete it.
3. Respond quickly. Show that you care and are committed to connecting with and hearing your customers.
4. Own up to mistakes. Don’t make excuses; create solutions.
5. Make It Right: Do what you need to do to resolve the situation. It is possible to turn a negative situation into a positive one if you handle it proactively and professionally.
6. Don’t Feed the Trolls: Of course there are people out there who simply enjoy spreading negativity. If the situation is no longer productive, get out of it.
Online reputation management may sound like a short-term buzzword, but it isn’t something that can be ignored.
Use these tips to start monitoring and managing your reputation while your business is still small so that you can grow your efforts as your business and your need for reputation management grow.