It used to be that face-to-face, in-person contact with clients made—or broke—your reputation with your customers. Potential customer might have looked your company up in the phone book and called the Better Business Bureau to find out if you had any negative reports or reviews before coming in for that in-person encounter. Face-to-face, in-person interaction is still very important, but the phone book and BBB have morphed into one ubiquitous entity—the Internet. Because the Internet is so far-reaching and important in peoples’ lives, it is essential that you manage your online reputation and take a proactive approach to doing so.
Why Managing Your Reputation Now is Important
Because 80% of adults make purchases based on recommendations and 90% of people trust reviews, managing your online reputation is a necessity in today’s competitive markets. But, waiting until there is a negative comment or review to begin reputation management can be a grave mistake. If you take a proactive approach to managing your online reputation now, a negative review can provide an opportunity to show your great customer service rather than drive your image management down the tubes.
How You Can be Proactive Now
The first step in any online campaign begins with strategy. Developing your online reputation strategy is key to keep your message focused and clear to your target markets. Make sure you have very specific goals in this strategy and that every action you take is a step toward accomplishing those goals.
A good strategy includes:
- Using Social Media—once you’ve established a search engine and user-friendly website, your business can focus on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Creating an active and engaging social media presence means that more sites over which you have influence can appear at the top spots of search engine results pages. This means less visibility to sites you have no control over that may have negative reviews or comments about your company.
- Effective Message Management on Your Turf—creating spaces within social media platforms allows you to contain comments to use them and address them how you see fit. If approached correctly, a negative comment that you respond to might actually be a way for your brand to gain popularity.
- Press releases and reviews—these can be some of the most effective ways to maintain a good reputation for your brand and company. While your own marketing and advertising can reach your target markets very effectively, an unbiased third-party endorsement can make a great impression. A well-written press release can help you gain media attention, not to mention the added visibility your company will have just by posting optimized press releases online. Asking satisfied customers to post online reviews is also a really great way to expand your reach and gain consumer confidence.
Managing your reputation before it is in danger is nothing new when it comes to public relations for your business. However, the Internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to research companies they’re thinking about doing business with—and leave reviews about companies they have done business with. Managing your online reputation proactively is something your business needs to get started on now before things have a chance to get out of control. Establishing and maintaining a good online reputation is easier than having to restore confidence in a tarnished name.