As a small business owner, you want your potential customers to see good reviews and informative blog posts whenever they Google your name.
However, your brand’s reputation isn’t always up to you. An unhappy customer or a competitor can leave bad reviews and influence other potential customers’ opinions about you. To make sure that your potential clients always have a good impression of your business, you need to have a good online reputation management strategy in place.
Online reputation management (ORM) is all about monitoring and controlling what other people say about your company and reducing the impact of negative reviews. Building and managing an online reputation is essential for businesses of all sizes.
In 2019, around 88% of small business owners surveyed by the B2B marketing platform Clutch say that they monitor their online reputation at least quarterly. Likewise, 90% of retail shoppers research about a business or product before buying, and around 70% say that online reviews impact their purchase decisions.
As consumers get smarter in their shopping habits, having a sterling online reputation is more important than ever. Investing in reputation management as part of your branding strategy can spell the difference between success and failure, especially for small businesses.
Online Reputation Management Strategy in Seven Steps
Here are seven business reputation management tips for small businesses to build a positive and compelling image, increase brand awareness, and attract more business:
1. Check your online reputation.
The first step is to be aware of what other people are saying about your business. Google your business name and scan the first two search engine results pages. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer and determine what they can learn from the results. If you encounter negative reviews, reach out and provide solutions that can help neutralize the negative effects.
2. Claim and protect your business name.
Purchase domain names with your business name before anyone else does and misrepresents your business. Secure your business name and register accounts using it on all sites such as Google, LinkedIn, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Basically, secure any unclaimed profile you can find so you can turn them into useful online assets.
3. Monitor your online reputation.
Create relevant Google Alerts for things related to your business. Google will notify you when the keywords you set in Alerts show up online. The sooner you are aware of any potential crisis situation, the better you can plan and formulate a response. You can also use tools that help you monitor social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and review sites such as Yelp.
4. Have a proactive instead of reactive reputation management strategy.
If you don’t regularly monitor your online reputation, you may soon experience a crisis situation because of aggression from unhappy customers or misinformation from competitors. Damage control after a crisis blows up is the reactive way of handling reputation management. Although this is also an effective strategy, most experts recommend a proactive approach. That is, building a strong and resilient online reputation that can overcome any negative content.
5. Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews.
Actively encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business on Google, Yelp, and other platforms where your business is listed. Some customers will readily provide good reviews, but others may need a gentle reminder. Monitor your social media for messages and comments from satisfied customers, and encourage them to post these on Google, Yelp, and other review sites.
More importantly, providing the best customer service to your customers is the key to a good online reputation. Train your personnel to be courteous and helpful to leave a good impression on your clients.
6. Create useful and positive content.
A good way to build a strong online reputation is to establish credibility in your industry by not only selling high-quality products and services, but also by providing informative and interesting content to your target audience.
Create a blog on your website and post relevant and useful content such as tips and tricks, guides, how-to’s, FAQs, and more. Having excellent content on your website will improve your ranking in Google search results, lead to better brand awareness from potential customers, and help boost your online reputation.
7. Establish and expand your social media presence.
Another good reputation management strategy is to establish a strong online presence, especially in the big four social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Building your brand through social media will let you connect with your potential customers and also make it easier to control the top search results about your business.
Make sure your social media feeds are regularly maintained to attract an organic following and create more opportunities to connect and interact with current and future customers. Fill your social media feed with useful and interesting content to increase your influence and boost your engagement.
Final Thoughts on Corporate Reputation Management
Online reputation management is not a one-and-done deal. By laying the groundwork for a positive brand image, diligently monitoring and responding to your online reviews, and tweaking your actions to further enhance your reputation, you are setting your small business up for long-term success.
Marq Untivero is the SEO & SEM Manager of Inkjets.com, a trusted supplier of remanufactured and compatible printer inks and toner cartridges. Inkjets.com has been providing small businesses a more affordable solution to printer ink.