Reputation management has become a significant concern for businesses because of the Internet. One nasty comment can linger online forever and spiral out of control, even if it is entirely false. Companies need to take a proactive approach and build up a good reputation so that it is quickly taken care of if there is a problem. Here are some excellent tips to get you started.
- Before putting too much effort into reputation management online, check to see how much you need, if any. Search your business with Google and Bing. Do negative results come up? Do the websites and blogs your business runs only show up on a few hits or none at all? Answering yes to either question means that you have work cut out.
- The best way to manage your reputation is to provide excellent customer service to everyone you deal with. When everyone is happy, they only say positive things or just nothing at all. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising because it is free and unstoppable. Make sure no one ever has a reason to bad-mouth you in the first place.
- Maintain a good image by working to alleviate customer dissatisfaction. You can show all your customers that you care when you turn one individual customer's bad experience into a positive one if you can do this online, better yet. Fellow customers will witness your response to the unhappy client and develop a willingness to trust you down the road.
- Make sure that at least several of your business web pages are optimized for your business name. You want Google to recognize your business homepage as the authoritative Internet site about your business. You want to have the number one search position for your business name, not number two or three behind a Wikipedia article or some blog. Make sure that your website is the first listing someone sees when they Google your brand.
- Run social media accounts professionally. Social media pages represent you, so don't ever put a negative spin on them. While you should be a little personal, so people don't view you as a robot, you must make sure not to take things too far.
- If you are going to use anyone's ideas, you should always make sure to give them credit for that. Everyone out there can learn a little from others, so giving due credit will show people you don't think you are above them. This is a great way to earn their respect.
- When you publicly respond to any feedback that a customer leaves, make sure to address them by name. People want to know that business owners see them as individuals and not part of a vast group. Using their names will give them what they want.
- Keep updated on what social media sites are up to on the Internet. Consumers often discuss different businesses at these places. Keeping a close eye on these sites will help you damage control as soon as negative comments are posted. That keeps your reputation strong.
- As your business prospers, your customer interaction will increase. Eventually, with a growing business, you will run into unhappy customers, and you must promptly handle these situations. Speak in a manner that is businesslike and professional.
- Try to follow up with your customers soon after they make purchases. This will make it more likely that they will express concerns with you rather than sharing them all over the Internet. You can use this as an opportunity to resolve the issue before it gets out of hand.
- Everybody makes mistakes, even large corporations. When your business causes an error, you must apologize for it to your customers as soon as you can. Describe how your company will make amends. When you are forthcoming about mistakes, you can still protect your reputation because customers will appreciate your honesty.
- Some companies offer fake reviews in return for compensation. Could you not give in and join them? This is a bad business practice, plus this type of activity is illegal in several states.
- Get familiar with the review sites that are on the web. More and more people are writing reviews about their experiences with a product or service. You never know if a review was written about your company. Do not ignore reviews, but learn from them. This is an excellent way to improve your business.
- Often when you purchase a .com domain name, you are offered the option to buy the name with .org, .net, and .info suffixes. It's smart to do this, and it's even smarter to develop these into related sites rather than simply having them all end up on your main website. If you have several different sites with high-quality, pertinent content about your niche, it will help establish your authority and build your reputation online.
- It is usually acceptable to offer a small incentive to encourage a customer to leave a review for your company. However, a significant dollar value stimulus may be seen as inappropriate because it is like buying a vote. Check the policy of the review site to see where they stand on the issue of incentives.
- When confronted with criticism online, take the time to analyze it. Look at complaints carefully and isolate the specific issues you need to address. Determine whether or not the problem lies with you, the complainer, or both. Consider the source. If the person complaining has a history of complaining in other settings, there may not be much you can do about this complaint.
The reputation that your business has is very important. The Internet has made it easier than ever to comment on companies and what they like or does not like. So businesses have to be actively involved in managing their reputation. Start with the tips above and ensure that your company maintains a good reputation.
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