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A Quick Guide to Online Reputation Management (and Why Your Business Needs It)

What do you find when you Google your brand name? When you search for it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, what kind of posts do you see? What about review websites like Yelp?

Online reputation management is simply managing how your brand appears on all these places that people use to learn about you. Naturally, you want to look like a business that delivers. Online reputation management allows you to do just this. It helps your business (somewhat) control and manage the content that appears in branded searches and be perceived just the way you’d like to be.

There are two parts to online reputation management. This first part is about suppressing any negative online content that’s been posted by your users or third parties about your business. As for the second part, it’s about encouraging positive user-generated or third-party content and amplifying the existing. So let’s see how you can get started with online reputation management and make your business look its best online.

Here goes.

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1.Listen to what people say about your business

There are so many places where people talk about your brand. These are sometimes their favorite social hangouts. At other times, these are the directories they used to discover your service. Occasionally, these are third-party blogs or publications that write about you.

You have to be able to “listen” to all of this in order to manage your business’s online reputation. To be able to do that and take part in the conversation, you have to be everywhere your customers are. Roughly these places fall into three types:

  • Social media platforms: You probably already might be on social media platforms. These are often people’s go-to places when they want to share love or rant about businesses they engage with. So monitor your pages and accounts for posts and mentions. Many social media tools come with handy brand monitoring features.
  • Community/third-party websites: Potential customers may research your business using these third-party sources. Usually, content on such websites ranks well for your branded search terms. For example, if you’re a catering service, this might be a local online catering magazine. Here, you can expect stories like a (high or poorly-rated) review of your service. When negative, these stories can be damaging.
  • Crowdsourced review platforms/directories: Again, you might already be on these platforms. For example, if you’re a local B2B or B2C service provider, you already might have vendor/business accounts on portals like Yelp, GoogleMyBusiness, and other online directories. You need to proactively monitor these places and respond to all the reviews and feedback that get posted here, especially those with ratings below 4 stars.

By monitoring all these places, you stay on top of all that’s being said about your business online. As something gets posted about you, kick off your online reputation management (ORM) response.

 

2.Participate with meaningful responses

When people post about your business online, their content is one of these three types, and each type calls for a different kind of response. Here’s what you need to know.

Feedback (good or bad).

Both feedback on social media platforms and third-party crowdsourced review portals or directories fall here. Basically, these are honest customer testimonials. Whether they’re glowing reviews or modest 3-star ones, to build your online reputation, you need to respond to each.

To standardize your responses, create a policy for responding and outline what tone you’ll take to respond and what your average response time will be.

You should also have templates ready that your ORM person can customize and respond to customers who leave you a high (4-5 star) rating. In the same way, you should create response templates to respond to customers who leave three-star reviews. Again, your ORM person needs to personalize these. Usually, customers report valid issues and bad customer experiences when posting such feedback. So acknowledge those, investigate, and take corrective action.

The most negative ones naturally need more care when responding.

Third-party stories.

Again, these can be positive or negative.

If it’s a positive review, go all out with promotions.

And if it’s a negative review that you feel is overly critical, reach out to the writer and highlight the points that you think aren’t covered objectively. Also, request a more balanced one. It’s entirely up to the writer and publication how they treat your request.

If this is the case and the publication doesn’t cooperate, try to sponsor more balanced stories about your business. Fresher content from authoritative websites can push negative content down the page rankings of Google search results. If such negative stories tumble to the third results page or so, they will hardly have any visibility. Note that this is a high effort-intensive and slow process.

The “hate” websites or complaint forums.

If you don’t respond well to customers — or when customers are being downright unreasonable — they head out to complaint websites.

Just like third-party review websites, even these complaint forums rank well for brand name searches, especially when people look up terms like “brand name + complaint.”

So try to pacify customers as best as you can or at least listen and respond thoughtfully.

3.Work toward building a positive online reputation

Another part of the online reputation management mix is to generate and amplify positive stories and user-generated content so it reaches more people.

For example, if a third-party review website or an influencer gives you a raving review, share the same on your social media profiles. Also, add it to a “Mentions” or “News” tab on your website.

Creating friendly relations with local outlets and content creators is one way to keep getting positive online coverage. There are a few SaaS services too that let you connect with such publications and generate good third-party content. You can also create positive brand awareness by tying your brand to relevant trending stories that connect with your ‌audience. People simply heart such stories! Think of this like DIY PR!

Some businesses also invest in PR to drive such positive brand stories. However, this can be very expensive, and the results aren’t always guaranteed.

Positive customer feedback, too, counts toward this.

In order to keep getting positive feedback, contact your happy customers and ask them to post a review on your Google My Business and Yelp listings. You can also ask your customers to connect with you on social media platforms like Facebook and leave their reviews there. This way, you even get to break into their social circles.

Doing so doesn’t just help build positive word of mouth for your business but also translates to more business. In one study, 85% of customers said that they only valued recent reviews and that reviews posted older than three months didn’t add much value. That’s why you need regular reviews anyway!

Wrapping it up…

Maintaining an online reputation, whether it’s monitoring for negative feedback and responding to it promptly or inspiring and promoting positive content, is an ongoing process.

Also, it’s as much about amplifying positive brand sentiment and suppressing negative search results as it is about connecting with your audience. So add this to your daily marketing activities.

That’s pretty much all you need to know to start managing your online business reputation. Before you start, do an audit. Search for your brand name and see if any negative stories right on the first results page need immediate action. And go from there.

Did you know your business website ties directly with your business’s online reputation? In fact, about 75% of people gauge the credibility of your business based on your website design. So start with a good website. At 2Point, we specialize in website redesigns. Get in touch to see how we can make your business look its best online.

About 2POINT

We are 2Point, a digital agency, creatively driven and data inspired. We work with ambitious brands around the world, handling all their digital production needs and helping them achieve increasingly higher sales goals.

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