You Have a Rep Online – Make Sure You Manage It!

“How Business Can Get Proactive About Managing Their Online Reputation” is a great article which provides some great tips in managing a company’s online reputation and how to utilize social networks to broadcast their brand.

First, “reputation is, essentially, what others say about you. And for years, reputation was mostly shaped and influenced by word of mouth and through advertising in yellow pages, broadcast and print media, and direct mail.”

This form of reputation is based off of a traditional model and as we all know this has now changed and many users now can review a range of products and services and even comment about their experience for other users to read via the web making online reputation a must for companies to ensure they stay in business.

The main and most important factor businesses need to do is create and maintain proactive online strategies for managing reputation.

Now in order to do this here are a few steps/tips businesses should consider when thinking about entering this new realm to stay ahead of their competition:

  1. Ensure your business is properly represented on local business listing websites. One of the simplest ways to guarantee a consumer can find your business is to create profiles on top local business listing sites, such as Yelp, Citysearch, Google Places, and  Business can also consider a new wave of local search via Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places.  These offerings are the best way for businesses to easily add or update their company information, ways to be reached, and different product/ service offerings.  Since these types of sites see high online search visibility it’s worth the extra work!
  2. Launch a website that demonstrates that you run a high-quality business. Now this one can be a bit tricky since some business owners might think they already have a great website that portrays this image however, it’s more important now than ever for a local business to have a great website that establishes the company as a reliable, trusted operation and that’s packed with information consumers need to make a purchase. Beyond including the basics like a business address and phone number, a website needs to be visually-appealing, well-written, interactive and constantly updated to give consumers positive, lasting impressions about the company.  What you have to remember is your website is your public face.
  3. Leverage social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  “In addition to a website, businesses should create a social media presence that will allow the company to engage in online conversation related to its brand and industry as a whole. Facebook and Twitter—both free to setup and use—allow businesses to convey their own voice, express thought-leadership in their area of expertise, talk one-on-one with customers and promote and defend themselves when necessary.”  In addition, Youtube also allows businesses a chance to connect with consumers visually and show off their offerings in a more personable way.
  4. Monitor and influence the online conversation about your business. Monitoring ensures that no alarming customer complaints or charges are posted about the business, and if there are, that the business quickly identifies the customer, responds and mitigates the customer’s concerns. It pays to know what others are saying about you.  These days, consumers are using local search and social networking sites more than ever when deciding whether or not to move forward with a purchase, and a negative review—no matter how small, or even how long ago it was posted—can easily influence them. Additionally, rating systems on review sites can have a negative impact not only on a business’ reputation, but where the business shows up in search.

Businesses which handle online customer complaints well can quickly regain the respect of angry or frustrated customers, as well as the admiration of others watching the exchange.

As you can tell, managing a local business’ online reputation requires a firm, long-term commitment, but it’s also necessary in today’s increasingly digital world. To attract the customers you want to make your business grow, businesses need to take action to create online presences that are accurate, engaging and responsive to consumers’ needs.