Online reviews can be one of the strongest assets or biggest liabilities for a small business. Are you paying attention to yours? Do you respond to all reviews, or are you focusing on “real” interactions and pretending what people say online doesn’t matter?
As hard as you’ve worked on your brand’s reputation in the real world, word of mouth no longer has the impact it once did. It’s not enough to grow your business, and it’s not enough to counter whatever’s being said about you online. We live in a world where most people consult the internet before making an important decision, where over 80% of people trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Even people who are turned on to your company through friends or family will second-guess working with you if your online reviews are all one star.
There are several ways online reviews can affect your bottom line. Now that you know this, it’s time to come up with a game plan. Whether your business only has a couple of negative reviews to address or you need to do major damage control, the good news is that you’re not defenseless. There are ways to make your online reputation work for you, but like all digital marketing efforts, it’s going to take some strategic planning and careful execution.
Here’s how to start managing your online reputation, so it doesn’t manage you:
1. Get A Pulse On Your Current Situation
Take a deep breath and get started by Googling your company. It’s important to know where your audience is most active and whether your online reviews are mostly positive or negative. If you see some negative reviews, try not to take it personally and don’t respond just yet. You’ll need a plan for how to respond in a way that shows your company in the best light possible.
During your search, you may find profiles for your business that you did not create. On Yelp, for example, business owners must officially claim their listings. Verify your account on any site where you’re getting reviews, and make sure your profile is updated with accurate information. Mistakes in your profile, such as a broken website link or wrong phone number, can also turn potential customers away.
2. Create A Plan For Online Reputation Management
Once you have an idea of where your company stands with reviewers, create a strategy for managing your online reputation. Here are the basic points your plan should cover:
- How you will respond to positive reviews, negative reviews, and inaccurate reviews. Check out our dos and don’ts for managing your online reviews.
- Ways you can encourage more positive reviews. There are a bunch of ways to collect more customer reviews and use them to your advantage!
- Steps you’re taking to prevent negative reviews. It’s highly unlikely that every negative review you’ve received is inaccurate. Seeing what people truly think about your business can be enlightening. Try to find the constructive criticism that’s there and brainstorm ways to improve.
3. Monitor And Respond Regularly
With an action plan in place, your team is equipped to take control of the conversation. Of course, this will require some time and effort, which means at least one person’s workload will be affected. You can set notifications to alert you whenever you receive a review, but as a business owner, you won’t always be able to respond right away. Whether you’ll be the one reading and responding to reviews or plan to get one or more team members involved, it’s important to designate time every week for this task because online customers expect prompt responses. If an unhappy customer leaves a negative review on Google and a few days go by without a response from your brand, they might be upset enough to now go write another negative review on Facebook or Yelp.
3. Create Valuable Content
You’ll never be able to control what people say about your company online, but you can control how you react and how you treat every customer interaction. Focus on the channels that you can control. Your website, blog, social media profiles, and marketing emails all offer opportunities to shape your online reputation.
- Create valuable content for your target audience, and they will come to see you as trustworthy and experienced. Share how-tos, ask customers what they’d like to see from you, and look for ways your content can help make their lives better or easier.
- Create positive content that shows off your company’s core values and company culture. The internet is wrong about who you are? Okay then, show them what your company is all about!
Have you Googled your company lately? If you’re concerned about your online reputation and want help managing your reviews, contact Triton Commerce today! Our online review software makes it easy to automatically remind your customers to leave a review of your business, and even channels negative feedback directly to you so you can address the issue quickly before it is published online.