The social nature of the Internet has given people practically limitless opportunities to shape a brand’s reputation. Today, a company’s online reputation is a cornerstone of survival and success. However, negativity spreads like wildfire, and studies show that 80% of consumers change their purchasing decisions after reading negative reviews.
If you’re not present to mitigate the damage a negative review can do to your brand, your reputation can plummet overnight. That’s why it’s more important than ever to proactivity monitor what people are saying about your business online and be ready to respond immediately. Here are four ways to get started:
#1. Use Google
Most people first find out about a business from the world’s favorite search engine, so that’s unsurprisingly where online reputation management begins. To get an idea of the overall sentiment regarding your brand, you can start by typing your brand or product name into Google and seeing the autocomplete suggestions.
Pressing enter, you’ll get a much more thorough overview of how people feel about your company. For many businesses, especially local stores and venues, reviews and ratings appear on the first page of results. If your business has any reviews on Google itself, then a score out of five stars will appear to the right. Unsurprisingly, an unsatisfactory rating sticks out like a sore thumb and will discourage most people from even clicking on the link to your website.
#2. Track Social Media Posts
Every business should be active on social media, not just because it’s an important marketing channel, but also because that’s where people are most likely to be talking about your brand. Even if you don’t plan to post updates every day, it’s still essential that you monitor social activity consistently so that you know as soon as someone posts a negative review. Remember, that a single negative comment on Twitter, for example, can quickly go viral. That’s why you need to be there to mitigate damage before it gets out of control.
As with online reviews, it’s essential to be actively involved by responding to both negative and positive comments. After all, many consumers consider a company’s response to feedback to be more important than the feedback itself. If, however, people start getting the impression that you’re ignoring them, your reputation can take a nosedive. By actively monitoring social chatter, including any hashtags that people regularly use when referring to your business, you’ll be better equipped to maintain some control over your online reputation.
#3. Keep Up with Blog Comments
Your website serves as the hub for all online activity, and that’s where your branding and reputation management begins. In an effort to improve inbound marketing, many organizations also publish blogs on their websites to help boost visibility in the search engines, build industry authority and create a community. Many larger businesses take matters a step further by allowing their customers to leave on-site reviews or participate in community forums.
Although most business blogs are relatively quiet corners of the web, you should always enable and engage with comments on your blog posts. Blog comments can help you learn more about your target audience and even get a few ideas for new topics. At the same time, enabling comments also increases the risk of adverse feedback and spam, but you shouldn’t necessarily let that put you off.
If you do have comments enabled on your business blog, you’ll need to monitor them consistently to enjoy the benefits. Spam comments need to be dealt with quickly too since they’ll detract from the professionalism and genuineness of your blog. As for constructive criticism, you should respond to it appropriately and transparently rather than delete it. Otherwise, people will eventually see through the charade. The same applies to any other on-site, user-generated content, such as forums and reviews.
#4. Monitor Review Websites
Consumer review services like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google, allow anyone to leave feedback, as do major social platforms like Facebook or online booking engines like Booking.com for accommodation. You’ll need to monitor all the major consumer review platforms that apply to your business. If you run a restaurant, for example, that means being active on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Zomato, as well as the general review platforms like Google and Facebook.
Many business leaders make the mistake of assuming that, just because they don’t have their profile on a particular review platform, they don’t need to worry about user feedback on that platform. However, most directories allow anyone to create a listing and leave a review. You should always claim your listings where possible, and take the steps necessary to verify that the business is yours. Doing so is a great way to build links to your website and will allow you to keep track of what people are saying about you on these powerful platforms.