Like it or not, the internet says things about you when you’re not around. Figuring out whether what it’s saying is going to help you win new customers or deter people from working with you is the art of online reputation management.
Until recently, this has been one aspect of internet marketing that a lot of small business owners have ignored. That’s ironic and unfortunate, because it’s small businesses that need a good online reputation the most. They don’t have huge branding campaigns or advertising blitzes to go on. So, the things customers say about them on sites like Yelp, through social media, and elsewhere on the web can have a very big impact on sales.
What can you do to build a better online reputation? We’re glad you asked, because we have five quick tips to help you get started…
#1 Set Up Your Profiles
It’s easier to build a positive online reputation – not to mention direct the kinds of conversations customers are having about your business – if your business appears in the right places. So, if you don’t have them already, take the time to set up complete profiles on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (along with TripAdvisor if it’s relevant to your company).
#2 Know What People Are Saying Now
If you’ve been in business for more than a few weeks, you likely already have some kind of online reputation. To find out what it’s like, you need to go straight to the source. Go to a fresh computer, or clear your search history, and start entering your name into Google, Facebook, and other platforms. Then, do the same with your company’s name. You’ll quickly get a sense of what has been posted about you online.
#3 Ask for Good Feedback
You probably have a dozen or more customers who would be willing to give you a positive testimonial, right now, if you were only to ask them. Let them know how important your online reputation is, and then see if they’ll grant you a few kind words that can be used on Facebook, your own website, and elsewhere. It might be easier than you think to get a bit of positive feedback while nudging your online reputation in the right direction at the same time.
#4 Take Negative Reviews to Heart
Much of the time, business owners’ first instinct is to fight or refute a negative review. And sometimes, that response is warranted. However, it’s often better to analyze the review to see what’s really being expressed. If you find there is some truth in it, wouldn’t it be better to fix the problem and make sure future customers don’t give the same kind of feedback?
#5 Be in the Press for the Right Reasons
Good PR can get people talking about your business in the right way. That lesson applies even more in the digital age than it did in the print marketing era, since it’s easy for fans and customers to pass along links to their friends and colleagues. So, if you’ve won an award, done something charitable, or otherwise made the news for the right reasons, promote it online and help your online reputation grow.
You’re going to have an online reputation, because people are going to post things about you and your business on the internet. The only question is whether yours is going to be positive or negative. What are you doing today to help customers generate the right impressions?