Your online reputation can determine the success or failure of your business and a single negative review or experience can severely damage your reputation.
This guide aims to help you safeguard your brand online.
If you operate from a public-trading office or shop it can be easy to forget about the importance of your online reputation. Your online image, which includes your website, any listings and reviews that you may have and all of your social media platforms are crucial to the success of your business.
If you haven't yet discovered the benefits of social media for your business you can find more information on why it's so important by clicking the link above and exploring our range of Social Media articles.
The first thing that a customer usually checks when considering buying your product/service is your online reputation, sometimes even without realising it. They may have found your business via an online listing that includes reviews from past customers. They may have seen a page of testimonials on your website or they could have come across one of your social media pages and seen the interaction that you have with your customers. All of this adds up to create a positive or negative reputation about your business and unfortunately, no matter how much effort you put into your social media, just one negative event or comment can have a detrimental effect on how new customers perceive your business.
Use the advice below to help maintain your positive reputation:
Positively Engage with Your Audience
If you're at your desk all day or if you have a member of staff who is, you should be monitoring your social media activity throughout the day. Look out for likes, re-tweets, messages, comments and new followers. If any of these come in you should aim to respond as quickly as possible.
The faster your response times, the better your reputation. Things like this don't take a great amount of time. Just a quick thank you for likes, re-tweets and new followers is enough and then just reply to any comments or messages with the relevant information.
The most important thing is to be polite and to not miss anyone, particularly comments or messages, as these customers are actively engaging with your online brand.
Monitor Your Reviews
If you have various listings for your business on directory sites such as; yell.com, yelp or Google My Business you should be monitoring them regularly for new reviews and feedback. If a negative review comes through you can then quickly check it and identify if it's true or false. If it's a false review you can sometimes report it and have it removed or you can reply to the customer and aim to resolve the issue and therefore provide the customer with a more positive experience. The customer may then amend their original review to reflect their new experience.
If you haven't already, it's also a good idea to include reviews on your website. This can be done by manually adding your reviews to a 'testimonials page' like we have or you can link to an existing listing.
Find Out What People Are Saying About You
You can discover what people are saying about you online using a variety of methods including; social media monitoring and Google alerts.
You'll be able to find out what views your clients and competitors have of you and it will give you a better understanding of your online reputation.
If you find a negative comment or topic relating to your business, try joining the conversation with an effort to rectify the situation. This will let your customers and competitors know that you are active in the industry and willing to work hard to make sure all of your customers have a positive experience with your business.
Don't Fall Prey To Hackers
This year has seen a rise in companies and websites falling victim to hackings. Some cases were so severe that they led to mass panic on the side of the company as private and confidential information about their practices and customers were leaked out into the world. Smaller hackings have included changes in login details, website content being replaced with spam and negative, damaging content being spread on social media.
The effort involved in rectifying this can be detrimental to businesses. The worst part is that your customers will know that your system has been hacked which will instantly cause them to worry about their own data, especially if you have any sensitive data on file.
Secondly, you will need to regain control of your assets, which can take time and then you'll need to remove and replace any damaged content.
To prevent this from happening you need to take certain measures to protect yourself online:
Claim Your Business Name
If another business has the same name as yours and has a negative online image, did you know that this can sometimes negatively effect your own reputation?
That is why, securing your online presence is crucial through the ownership of various domains and social media sites.
You can do this by purchasing as many domains as you can for your business. The .co.uk and .com domains are a good place to start. We'd then also recommend that you secure various social media pages for your business including sites such as; Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
You can then use these sites to enter your company information and positively engage with your customers.
If you don't have the time to dedicate to your online reputation, we can help. Our affordable monthly social media packages keep your posts fresh with new and relevant content, whilst also engaging positively with your customers on a daily basis.
Our next blog will explain how to deal with negative comments and feedback on social media sites so keep a look out for that. If you have any topics that you'd like us to cover do feel free to leave a comment below or tweet to us @adm1nangelsUK