First impressions matter and the online perception of a company can either make or break the business. No matter how big or small the enterprise, just one or two bad reviews can discourage new clients or customers from investing their hard earned cash in a business’ products or services.
The increased use of social media sites to rant or rave about specific products and services has made it even more difficult to maintain a good online reputation. Online reputation management is now a key factor in ensuring the success of any business. But how does online reputation management work and what are the benefits?
Know Your Reputation
The first step to managing an online reputation is finding out what the current standing of the business is. To do this, a number of tools can be used to track and monitor what is being said about the business through different social media and online platforms.
These tools search for and identify keywords, tags and other information that are related to the business’ brand, products or services. A report can be sent to help evaluate the current reputation of the business. Future notifications can also be used to alert the business of any information that could affect reputation as and when they occur.
Using The Information
Once a report has been submitted, the reputation of the business can be evaluated and steps taken to remedy any negativity. In most cases, simply adjusting a customer relations strategy is enough to prevent future negative comments from occurring.
However, some situations may call for a more direct response. Responses to rectify a specific or multitude of complaints or problems needs to be addressed carefully.
Not all complaints or negative reviews call for a response. Knowing the difference is important and responding in an appropriate manner is also essential. If you feel that a comment deserves attention, there are three factors to keep in mind:
– Tell the truth
– Fix the problem
– Keep it short, sweet and professional.
Don’t get into a long-winded debate over a negative review or comment. Rather state the facts as they stand, get to the point quickly and in a professional manner. Also respond as quickly as possible to have the greatest impact. Be aware that the more responses you make, the more likely negative reviews will be deleted by the writer.
If the business was in the wrong, offer a means to remedy to situation such as product replacement or free service. Don’t offer free products or services for every complaint as this could lead to people abusing the business.
Deleting The Negativity
If the negative comments are not justified, it is best to delete them. If they are justified, it is recommended to leave them be with the appropriate response so that readers can see that an attempt was made to resolve the issue. This will not only minimize the impact of the negativity but will actually go a long way to increasing an online reputation.
Promote The Positive
Post positive comments, e-mails or reviews that you receive from your existing clients. Ask satisfied customers to send testimonials that can be posted on the homepage of your website.
Allow guest bloggers and writers to post their positive content on the website which will improve the company’s reputation as well as the search engine ranking. Sometimes, managing an online reputation is more about creating a positive perception rather than eliminating the negative aspects. If in any doubt on how to best manage an online reputation, it may be advisable to hire a professional.
Patrick Godknecht is a successful entrepreneur and business owner. He operates an online marketing agency, PDGWorldMarketing.com which serves professionals, entrepreneurs, corporations and businesses, no matter how big or small.