Like it or not—your customers are talking about you. And, the challenge with maintaining a positive online reputation is that you don’t always know what they are saying. Very often, the only time you start thinking about your brand reputation is when something goes wrong. Then you have to spend time and resources—not to mention worry—to try and repair an online reputation.
In the world of social media, there are so many factors that impact on your company’s reputation. Of course, there are some things you can control. Publishing a regular blog, maintaining a slick website, and providing a great customer experience are all ways to impact positively on your reputation. But there are things you can’t control. For example, reviews on Google or third-party websites, mentions on social media, or other people’s blogs.
In this guide, you will find out how to maintain a positive online reputation in five easy steps. You will also learn the importance that Google reviews play in offsetting any negative comments you receive.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is a series of strategies designed to influence how your brand is perceived. It’s about publishing positive material so that consumers view your online brand positively. For most small businesses, ORM is mostly connected with getting more Google reviews and responding to them.
Maintaining a positive online reputation should help achieve the following impact on your brand:
- Dominate the local search results for your industry
- Get at least a four-star rating on Google reviews
- Receive a steady stream of online reviews—most of which are positive
- Earn higher trust among consumers
- Experience less negative impact if your reputation gets dented
The result is that keeping a positive reputation online helps profit your business. You can retain more customers and increase revenue.
Why Care About Your Brand Reputation Management?
Your business has an online presence, which means you can’t afford to ignore what consumers are saying about you. Some stats reveal just how important it is to maintain a good reputation. Here are a few eye-opening statistics:
- Forty-five percent of visits to a “bricks and mortar” business starts with an online review
- Nearly ninety percent of consumers read local business reviews
- Seventy-five percent of “near me” searches result in a sale within 24 hours
- Nearly half of consumers search for local businesses using voice search
There is also the impact that social media can have on your business. A negative mention of your business on social media can quickly go viral. If there are images attached, you could quickly find that irreparable damage has been done. If you’re not monitoring social media, you may not even know that your reputation is under attack.
How to Keep a Positive Online Reputation?
It’s clear that you have to protect your digital reputation at all costs. But the big question is—where do you start? Read on to find out five ways to ensure you maintain your brand’s good reputation.
1. Asses your online reputation
First, find out what search results come up when you do an online search—after all, that is how potential customers will find you. You could also add the word “reviews” to the search query. You may be surprised to learn that your company appears on websites that you didn’t know existed. As well as the main search engine results pages (SERPs), check out results on the “images” and “news” tabs.
If nothing comes up in the search results, there is work to do on improving your online reputation. The same is true if any negative information appears.
Carrying out an online search will act as a baseline to help you know which channels to target.
2. Monitor key channels
The next step to maintain a positive reputation online is to monitor what people are saying. There are plenty of tools that can alert you when your business is mentioned online. The simplest of these tools is Google Alerts. However, there are also other online tools that help manage reviews and respond to them.
3. Invite more reviews from customers
To maintain a positive brand reputation, you should have a proactive strategy of getting more reviews. It’s not enough to take a passive approach and then react to negative comments. The only way to keep your brand reputation strong is to take a proactive approach.
Currently, Google and Facebook are the two channels to focus on if you are just starting. So, at the very least, you should optimize your Google My Business profile and maintain a Facebook business page.
When it comes to getting more online reviews, you can’t be shy about asking. Statistics reveal that the majority of your customers will leave feedback if you ask them to. In fact, 70 percent of them will write an online review when asked.
Why is asking for a review an essential step to maintain your business reputation? Reports indicate that consumers who have a negative experience are more likely to leave a review. Asking for reviews results in getting more positive reviews to offset any impact from a few negative ones.
Further reading: How to ask for online reviews.
4. Respond to comments and reviews
A proactive approach to managing your online reputation doesn’t just stop with asking for reviews. It’s important to respond to all comments and reviews.
If you are monitoring social media sites, you should respond positively to any comments that customers make. Even if you get a negative mention, responding politely is the best way to help diffuse the situation.
You should make a positive response if you get any negative Google reviews. What is the best way to respond to negative reviews? Here are a few tips:
- Always acknowledge the customer’s gripe—even if you feel it’s not justified
- If appropriate, offer a solution to the problem
- Make sure that your response is personal as no one likes a canned response
- If the customer escalates the issue, offer to discuss it by email or ask if you can call them
- Report false or fake reviews that breach Google’s review policy
5. Create positive content to maintain your online reputation
When you start getting more reviews, and your reputation improves, it’s time to focus on creating more positive digital content. You can do this by publishing content on the channels you control—social media, blog posts, and website content.
Here are two easy ways you can publish positive content to strengthen your reputation:
- Blog posts—Publishing regular blog posts is a great way to increase the amount of online content available about your business. You can write articles on topics related to your industry. Google will pick up on these posts, and you’ll find that your rankings in local search results start to increase. This will also push down any negative results that appear.
- Optimize social media—Start by focusing on one or two social media platforms that your customers use the most. Post useful and entertaining content to engage with more of your customers. When you get likes and shares, be sure to respond.
How to Get More Reviews to Maintain a Positive Online Reputation
Maintaining a positive reputation online can be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why it makes sense to find ways of getting reviews easier. Here at Starloop, we have come up with one of the best review solutions.
Our automated software sends out emails or SMS text messages to invite your customers to leave feedback. As an incentive for your small business to get more reviews, we offer to plant a tree for every review you receive. We have found that this eco-friendly incentive boosts the number of reviews that our members receive. Our review solutions also make it easy for your customers to write a review.
This review management software allows you to manage all the reviews you receive. You get notifications when you receive a review, and you can respond appropriately. In time, you will see that the number of positive reviews your company gets will gradually increase.
Please contact a member of our team today to find out how you can start getting more reviews to strengthen your online reputation.