With the power of the Internet growing every day, most small businesses can benefit from having an online presence. From social media to email marketing, to small business websites and SEO, there are a lot of ways to promote and grow your business online.
Even if you feel that online marketing tools are not necessary for your business, chances are your customers are online. And if they are online, you should at least be tracking your online reputation. All it takes is one negative comment or complaint in the form of a tweet, Facebook post, or blog comment that goes unanswered by your company to damage your reputation.
Online Reputation Management Explained
Online reputation management is the process of tracking online references to your brand, company, services and personnel to monitor the perception and impact of your business. There are a few reasons why this is so important. To start, tracking your online reputation allows you to become aware of potentially negative situations so you can assess and manage them before irreparable damage is done to your business.
Online reputation management is not just about avoiding bad publicity or complaints; you should have other customer service processes in place to ensure your customers have a method for connecting with you when they are unhappy with the product or service they purchased. At the core of online reputation management is transparency — what face is your business putting out there to the world, and how the world is responding to it. It’s not about hiding the negative, but more about embracing your brand’s image fully and opening the lines of two-way communication with customers. This kind of dialog can boost your credibility and elevate the public’s perception of your brand.
Using Tracking Tools to Gather Information
It can be very challenging and time-consuming to not only stay on top of all mentions of your brand online, but to also do it on a timely basis. And acting fast counts when it comes to your online reputation. Using tracking tools can streamline this process and make it easier for you to stay in the loop.
To get started, choose the applications that are the best fit for your business. It may take some trial and error to identify which combination of tools work best for you, so take time to try out several options until you have found the best mix.
The Importance of Creating a Response Strategy
Once you have your tracking process in place, the second part of managing your online reputation involves following a response strategy so all of your actions are purposeful and consistent. Each mention of your business should be evaluated by analyzing individual feedback, as well as the source, outlet, reach and timing, so you can come to a decision on the best course of action.
Different situations will call for different responses. You may decide to comment back, respectfully refute a negative claim, shift into customer service mode, draft a formal response, or simply ignore what has been said. The key is creating a strategy that outlines potential situations and provides guidance on how each instance should be handled in order to protect or repair your online reputation.
When it comes to online reputation management, consistency, and timeliness count. Once you have your strategy and tools in place, incorporate your monitoring activities into your daily business task list so you are checking in on a regular basis. Not only will this help you stay on top of your business’s reputation, but it will also provide endless opportunities for you to connect with your customers and improve your business.
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