Online Reputation Management has become a critical part of your online health and success. When you run a business, everything about your online presence is critical to how well your business performs. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of online marketing, and your reputation is a very important aspect of that. The Internet has taken the concept of word-of-mouth marketing and magnified it by orders of magnitude beyond what anyone imagined. Online reviews are an important part of this, and here are a few reasons and tips you should keep in mind when it comes to looking at online reviews and how you should manage them. Your reputation is your brand.
A Single Bad Online Review Can Really Hurt
One of the biggest reasons online user reviews carry so much marketing cache these days is the perception from consumers that, unlike professional reviews in magazines or recognized websites, an online review is written by “one of us.” That is to say, another average consumer with no business agenda, no incentives from a marketing firm, and thus, no reason to say anything other than what is true and what matters to other consumers.
So when a particularly well written negative review comes up, this can take a life of its own and really hurt your online reputation and subsequent sales. However, for all the damage that a bad review can do, there is also potentially an opportunity here. It all depends on how you react.
There are a lot of misconceptions about online reputation management. Some think it is just making sure everything is positive. There are going to be bad reviews. It is all how you manage that review. Don’t let one bad review damage your entire online presence.
Be Honest With Yourself
In the best of worlds, you’ll have a reputation for honesty and service that would make your mother proud. And if you don’t, people on the Internet will be quick to point this out in no uncertain terms. Here’s where unflinching honesty about yourself and your business is important. Are the criticisms right? People usually make critical remarks when they see a problem, not just because they want to hurt someone’s feelings. If the experience that someone is criticizing happened to you or your family, would you be fine with it, or would you too see that this is a problem that needs rectifying?
Valid criticism is one of the most important tools in marketing. It means that you, as a business owner, are getting free advice on how you can make your product or service even better. If you ignore this opportunity for improvement, you’re ignoring raising your chances for success and even greater profit.
Online Reputation Management requires you to Be Responsive
You or someone on your staff should always be monitoring online reviews. If you have a small business with more than one staff member, it’s not just your responsibility to maintain good relations with customers, everyone plays a role, especially when it comes to handling customer inquiries and complaints.
This is why responding quickly and affirmatively to online reviews and complaints can be a crucial period of turning around a potentially harmful event. When you respond to criticism, everyone is watching, not just the person that made the complaint. People will be evaluating how you handle the criticism, whether you are dismissive or engaged with the customer.
They will want to see whether you attempt to make good on reparations, or simply ignore or—even worse—retaliate against criticism. Few people will complain or chime in when everything is working smoothly, but everyone will be paying attention when something goes wrong to see how the error is handled.
Online reputation management requires you to take the time to engage with customers. If you show a sincere attempt to make amends, these things go a long way towards earning a lot of good will. Everyone understands that mistakes can happen, but if you show that you are willing to try and fix those mistakes, make improvements, and do right by the people that come to you with issues, these are things that people will remember and talk about when they discuss your product or service. Being responsive to a certain marketplace also aids in your ability to connect with your customers.
A Crisis Can Be an Opportunity
While you can’t control what other people say about your business, what you can do is have a large influence on what those remarks may ultimately be. No one likes it when things go wrong, but people will go out of their way to mention how understanding and accommodating a business can be in the event that something goes awry. This is an important aspect of a business reputation that a lot of people forget about.
There’s the old saying about how you find out what a person is really like in a crisis. In some cases, especially in business, this means that you can show off even more attentive, customer focused quality treatment that people will praise and remember. Customer engagement is important. When you take the time to show you care, and that you want to your customers to have a satisfying experience. That will do more for your online reputation than a concerted marketing campaign can. As your customers become your best public relations employees.
Don’t just manage your online presence, improve it.
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