How to Manage Your Online Reputation
Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses. A praise-filled testimonial can generate referrals and drive sales. But the other side of the coin is that a negative review can severely hurt your business. With the internet, word of mouth has become even more impactful. Instead of a dissatisfied customer telling a few (or few dozen) of their friends and associates, now they can tell thousands of potential customers via the Internet. How should businesses manage their online reputation in order to utilize positive feedback and diminish the effect of slanderous reviews?
Monitor Your Reputation: You should be watching several online forums for testimonials and reviews. Set up Google Alerts for your company name, watch your Yelp (and other relevant review sites) page, and monitor social media by searching for associated hash tags. Malicious reviews will stay visible unless you do something to get them removed. But you can’t take steps to remove malicious reviews unless you know they are out there! I recommend weekly checks for smaller companies, daily checks for larger companies, and continual monitoring for global brands.
Stay Professional: Business owners are understandably upset when someone maligns their company. However, lashing out at critics does far more harm for your company image. If you do need to publicly respond to a negative review, do so in a constructive way. Similarly, posting personal photos, updates, and information on your business profiles opens you up to personal as well as professional criticism.
Maintain Integrity: Posting fake reviews, or “astroturfing” will diminish your company’s credibility. Resist the urge to have friends or family write inflated reviews, as these are flagged as well. Instead, increase positive reviews by encouraging more customers to write reviews (many don’t think to do so unless there is a problem). Mention to satisfied customers that you value their feedback and would appreciate them reviewing your business – you will be surprise how often they are happy to take a few minutes to do so!
Listen!: It is much harder to get a reputation blunder OFF of the internet then it is to keep it from being posted in the first place. Set up customer service initiatives so that dissatisfied customers feel that they can come to you with complaints, instead of going straight for the Internet. While customers are more likely to post reviews if they are dissatisfied, going out of your way to provide exceptional and noteworthy customer service will get people talking as well!
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About Michelle Stansbury
Michelle Stansbury is the founder and CEO of Little Penguin PR, a boutique Public Relations Company in San Diego, California. Her background is in public relations and business development. After graduating from Duke University, she gained branding and marketing experience starting up a new division of Abercrombie & Fitch (“Gilly Hicks”) at their corporate headquarters.…