When it comes to reputation management, many companies think that they are exempt from having a social media crisis happen to them. Most companies would be correct in that full blown social media or PR crises are few and far between. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be worried about your online reputation. You should not prepare just if something negative happens. Part of being prepared means building up your reputation so that if something does occur, it is minimized by all of the great information you already have published about your company; and a few negative reviews or comments will just get buried under all the positive information already existing.
Building Your Online Reputation
If you have a social media plan and write press releases, you are already building your reputation in a positive way. The idea is to promote your company so that you are controlling the messaging and filling up the space in the search results about your company with positive information. The first step is to build out your business profile on Google “My Business”. You can enter in your information, description, photos, address, and other important details about your company and the products or services you offer. Next, develop a company or brand page on each of the social media channels:
- Google Plus
Even if you choose not to regularly post to these channels, reserving them to protect your brand is a great idea. Post to them as often as possible though, once a week or even once a month will help build your online reputation. Once those are in place, you will want to claim the listing and fill out the details on any local directories, such as the Yellow Pages online, Yahoo places, and review sites like Yelp and any others that are associated with your industry. You can find local directories and others by searching for your business name online, your competition, and your local city or province and systematically going through any directories that show up. Of course, social media does not only help build your online reputation, 69 percent of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site (Source: SitePoint).
Online Reviews and Your Company’s Online Reputation
Online reviews can be a very important part of your company’s marketing plan. If you are reluctant to encourage, or even allow reviews, you shouldn’t be. Of course, no company can “please all the people all the time” and the public knows that; but on average consumer reviews will be a positive and genuine reflection of your customers’ experiences. Positive online reviews will inevitably lead to an increase in business because other consumers will believe online reviews over advertising and marketing messages, even if they do not know the reviewer. Great customer service should always be a part of your company’s practices. That will lead to the positive reviews. You can always request and even incentivize customers to leave online reviews about their experience. Make sure to use media monitoring to keep track of the reviews left by customers. If the reviews are not positive, then you know what you have to work on. Before resisting the advice to employ consumer reviews, consider these statistics:
- 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews. (Source: EConsultancy)
- 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from real people. (Source: Yola Blog)
- Reviews product an average 18% uplift in sales. (Source: EConsultancy)
Takeaways for Your Business
Building a positive online reputation for your business is actually a part of building and growing your business. Social media and online reviews are two ways that you can build positivity online for your business, but at the same time, they are also ways that just build your business. The takeaway here is that building your business and employing best practices will help build your online reputation at the same time.
Elizabeth Victor is Brand Advisor for Isentia. She enjoys sharing tips on PR monitoring as well as media analytics and monitoring.