There was a time where business owners just had to worry about their reputation among customers in their city or town, and word-of-mouth passing of information. Now, entrepreneurs face numerous opportunities for people to share their thoughts about their business, thanks to technology and the Internet.
One challenge for business owners is reputation management. Whether a disgruntled former employee goes on a rant about your business, or you have a customer with a genuine complaint that goes viral, it’s tough to deal with. Dealing with false accusations can be more frustrating than true customer complaints, but both can seriously affect your business.
Your personal reputation can come into play as well, and entrepreneurs in the modern world should have a handle on reputation management and what it could mean for them.
Think About the First 10 Results
First and foremost, your reputation at least as far as the online world is concerned is built on what people find in the first ten results they pull up when they type your name or your businesses’ name into a search engine.
Yes, some people might go a little further to page two or three, but ultimately those first ten listings can be make-or-break.
You don’t want people to see a lot of negative information, but you also don’t want avoid. You need to have an online presence that people can find so that they trust the idea of working with you. It’s not a good idea to be completely unfindable even if you’re worried about your lack of control over what people might find.
You want those ten results to be positive and not just come from your own website. You want positive reviews to come up, media coverage, or mentions of you as a business owner being part of your community.
If you haven’t launched your business yet, reputation management should be a top priority. You want to think about your name and message and how that’s going to play a role in search results.
You want to research possible names and ensure there’s not anything negative linked to the name you’re considering.
Transparency Is Important
First of all, if there is something negative that pops up for your business and brand, like a negative customer review, it’s not the end of the world.
Remember that the Internet is hardly stagnant, and things change quickly. It can also allow you to practice transparency which is important to consumers. If there’s something negative being said, go to the source and start a conversation with the person who has that opinion.
Don’t try to hide criticism if it’s genuine, but instead address it head-on. This will show customers and potential customers that you’re open, honest and willing to accept feedback. Bad feedback can give you an opportunity to share your voice and showcase your customer service, as well as improving your products and services if you use it correctly.
Discerning consumers can sense a lack of transparency very quickly. Of course, not everything needs a reaction or response, either. Part of reputation management is deciding what to react to and what not to.
If someone issues a ridiculous opinion or perhaps just a personal opinion that you really can’t do anything about, that’s okay, and you don’t need to say anything.
Embrace Social Media
Your social media accounts need to be fully built-out and well-managed. This is important because it can help convey positive things about your business that outshine possible negative information.
If you’ve ever been to a businesses’ Facebook page and it seems fairly inactive with the exception of a few negative reviews, you know how bad this can look.
Ultimately you want the good that you put out there to outweigh any possible bad. You can’t just opt-out of reputation management, but as the term management implies, you need to be proactive and stay ahead of it.
Don’t wait until something comes up to check in on your online reputation. You should have tools in place so that you can monitor all the conversations that involve your brand or name online. You can set up Google Alerts, as an example, and do this quickly and for free.
If you type in the search terms you want to know about, you’ll get an alert every time they’re used online.
Invest In Quality Content
The more you can shape the image people see of your brand online, the better. A huge part of this is having great, optimized content that’s going to show up in those first ten results and paint the picture of your business that you want out there.
You want to be seen as an active, thriving brand and also an authority in your niche or industry. Invest in content creators for blog posts and articles and strong social content.
You should also make sure you invest in solid keyword research as well. These are the things that are then going to be front-and-center when people look your business up online.
For reputation management, you should also do outreach to news sites and local reporters and blogs. You should try and get content on their sites so that it extends your reach and continues to build your profile on those first ten results.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you might contact your local news station if you have an event going on, or perhaps your employees are volunteering in the community.
You can also reach out to other websites and blogs and ask if there are any guest posting opportunities so you could write for them for free, in exchange for them posting your content on their site.
Reputation management can be tough at times and overwhelming, but it tends to follow the old saying that “this too shall pass.” You can’t control everything, nor should you try. However, you should be proactive as far as the things you can control and the image people get when they search for your business online.