A good reputation is vital to running a business, whether you’re running a local brick and mortar business or you’re running your business strictly online. This has become increasingly harder to maintain since it’s never been easier for people to publish their opinion across the web for the world to see.
Many businesses are employing online reputation management specialists to help them ensure their good name doesn’t get washed down the drain. There are quite a few businesses that have emerged strictly to offer reputation management services. Large corporations have always had entire teams whose job is to focus on nurturing and defending their brand names. Smaller businesses usually don’t have that benefit. In the past, it wasn’t such a big deal, though.
In the past, someone from a small town in Texas would have a hard time letting it be known that they weren’t happy about service from a car shop or restaurant in Chicago. It wasn’t easy for individuals to have that kind of far reaching effect on a local business.
But today it’s different. Their opinion is almost instantly able to be heard near and far. Today all it takes is five minutes at a computer or on your smart phone and people all around the country are able to read about that bad experience. That bad service or whatever the problem may have been. And that’s bad news for small businesses.
To make matters worse, that opinion or piece of news doesn’t even have to be true. If people see it, all that matters is that it’s out there. It can easily cut off potential leads and customers from visiting or contacting a business. And once something’s out there, it can be difficult to get rid of (you never really get rid of it, but you can at least try to make sure it’s never seen).
So you have to be proactive. When you search for your business or your name online, what comes up? What kind of search results do you get? Hopefully good stuff. Truthful stuff. Your site, your Google+ page, your site on Yelp with good reviews… It will depend on the type of business you run. If you’re a plumber, then you want to show up in the local search results. If you run a strictly-online business then you wouldn’t appear in local results obviously. But hopefully you’ll have blog posts, positive reviews of your service, related forum posts, videos or press releases that show up.
Get good news out now…
If you put in the effort now to get good reports, news, reviews and such out there now, then if something bad does come up in the future it won’t hold as much weight. If it’s something mentioned on a blog or something then there’s a chance it won’t pop up in the top of search results if you good stuff already ranking at the top.
Check your competition
Do a search for your competitors. What do you see? How’s your rep look compared to theirs? Are they getting mentioned on sites, getting reviews or other attention on sites where you aren’t? If so, you know immediately some of the places you should be trying to get good reviews and mentions on.
Monitor & React
Monitoring your reputation includes monitoring what’s being said about you all across the web. You should monitor your industry in general for emerging trends or news or questions. Questions – potential customers could be asking about your product or service on social sites or forums. This can be a tedious task manually, but luckily there are a few tools you can use. You can use Google Alerts, TweetDeck, HootSuite and the list goes on.
When you catch these mentions, trend or questions… react. Answer their question, create a new blog post or video about the news. The more places you’re active, the more active you are, the more potential you have for new customers and the more possible search results that can show up in your favor.