How to Maintain a Good Online Reputation
Having a solid online reputation is essential for establishing a brand and conducting business over the internet. These days, having little to no online presence is often detrimental to a company because it makes it harder for potential customers to find you and decide whether or not to patronize your establishment.
You want to be careful not to damage your online reputation by making poor choices about the way you interact with others online or the type of content you post. If you’re concerned about your business’s online reputation, it’s time to take action.
Getting in touch with the online reputation professionals at BRANDefenders is your first step toward getting expert advice on how to keep your internet presence positive and prominent. In the meantime, check out the tips below for strategies to help you maintain your online reputation.
Your online reputation is compiled from the various sources of information about you or your business online, including reviews, social media profiles, and blogs. A good online reputation often involves having high ratings on review sites and many positive customer reviews.
You want your business to be easy to find through local internet searches, with links to your website and information about the products and services you offer available on every major social media platform.
Your business is more likely to appear higher in search engine results with a good online reputation. Having a high rating on Google, Yelp, and other review sites will make your business look more attractive to potential customers at a glance.
Furthermore, having a positive online reputation makes your business look trustworthy and credible, allowing you to build a loyal customer base and increasing the likelihood of garnering new customers through recommendations and word-of-mouth. One of the best ways to grow your business and establish your brand is by nurturing and maintaining an excellent online reputation.
In some ways, keeping a positive online reputation is similar to maintaining your personal reputation offline. You’ll need a degree of transparency and personal accountability. Even when you make errors, your reputation can remain intact as long as you own up to your mistakes and weak spots.
Here are some specific strategies to help you keep your online reputation strong.
1. Communicate Transparently with Customers
Being upfront about your faults can feel extremely vulnerable, and many business owners shy away from doing so out of fear of scaring off potential customers. However, honesty is appreciated.
For example, you may run a small business that occasionally has trouble fulfilling orders during busy shopping holidays. In that case, you’ll be much better off having a disclaimer at the top of your website apologizing for any shipping or processing delays and explaining why it’s hard for you to get your products shipped expediently. Customers are more likely to be sympathetic and patient if they know what they’re getting into ahead of time.
Conversely, if you try to bury your weaknesses by refusing to draw attention to them, customers will be caught off-guard when they order a product and it ships much later than they expected. A customer is more likely to leave a bad review out of frustration or disappointment in this scenario.
Of course, there is such a thing as oversharing, which involves being too transparent in a way that calls more attention to your faults than is good for your business. BRANDefenders agents can help you find the ideal balance by coaching you about when to communicate transparently with your customers and how to do so without making yourself or your business sound unprofessional.
2. Be Proactive About Review Sites
You want to create your own profiles on review sites like Yelp. Make a detailed profile for your business, including photos, descriptions of your products or services, and a brief synopsis of your story. These details will enhance your online reputation by showing you as thoughtful and proud of your business. They will also give customers the information they need to patronize your company.
To further solidify your online reputation, ask happy and returning customers to leave reviews and consider offering an incentive (like a discount on services or a free appetizer) for them to do so. Studies have shown that customers are exponentially more likely to buy a product or patronize a business with five online reviews than one with no reviews.
3. Respond to All Reviews, Even Bad Ones
It’s crucial to craft a thoughtful, polite response to all reviews you and your business receive, both positive and negative. Reading and responding to positive reviews is an important way to acknowledge the time your customers took to say something nice about your business. Additionally, suppose you do receive negative reviews. In that case, customers looking at your profile will also see your responses to positive reviews and will be less likely to see your responses to negative reviews as mere damage control.
Of course, it is much more difficult to respond politely to negative reviews than positive ones. This step is one of the hardest for business owners to master, and one of the key points BRANDefenders focuses on in our online reputation management. Seeing a scathing review on the internet can feel like a personal attack when you’ve spent years pouring your energy and money into a business.
However, your response to a negative review is vital to maintaining your online reputation and can even improve your reputation under the right circumstances. Try to engage your reviewer person-to-person; if your business was at fault, acknowledge it and apologize. Point out the steps you and your employees are taking to resolve the problem and prevent it from reoccurring in the future, and you may even convince that customer to give your establishment a second chance.
Even if you never hear from that customer again, other people looking at your business’s profile will notice your professionalism and commitment to your customers. Your online reputation will benefit as a result, instead of being dragged down by the negative review.
4. Support Other Local Businesses and Entrepreneurs Online
One of the key ways to maintain your good online reputation is by repeatedly engaging with other individuals and businesses online in a positive way. The experts at BRANDefenders encourage businesses to use their social media accounts to amplify and share others’ posts and their own. This is because customers look favorably on businesses that seem to be actively supporting their communities and fellow small business owners.
You are regularly seen using your business’s social media profile to boost business at other local companies. You increase the likelihood that those businesses will return the favor. Building recognition for yourself as a supportive and enthusiastic presence within your community will do a lot to maintain your good online reputation.
5. Take Online Security Seriously
Much of our business is conducted over the internet these days. From sensitive customer data to team member records and payroll information, a business’s computers and online accounts are rife with temptations for cybercriminals. And many small business owners lack the resources or education to protect themselves; a study by the United States Small Business Administration found that 88% of small business owners are worried their companies may be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Unfortunately, suppose your business does get hacked. In that case, your online reputation could suffer drastically since customers will likely blame you for the security breach if their data is compromised. When it comes to cyber security, the damage is done once you’ve had a breach; there’s no real way to compensate retroactively for the damage caused by stolen information. Our agents at BRANDefenders strongly advise small business owners to take cyber security very seriously to prevent attacks from compromising their online reputation.
Building a good online reputation is crucial for establishing brand recognition and increasing the customer base. The work doesn’t end once you’ve established yourself online. You need to put conscious effort into maintaining your online reputation through open and honest communication with customers, reading and responding to reviews promptly and politely, even if the reviews are negative or rude, and keeping a close eye on your online security.
If managing and maintaining your online reputation seems like a lot of work, don’t panic! That’s what the reputation management professionals at BRANDefenders are here to help you with. Start by arming yourself with these strategies for maintaining your online reputation, and then set up a consultation with our experts to make sure your business’s online reputation stays spotless.