May 24, 2016
Online reputation management is just like normal PR and disaster management work. The only difference is, it is done online. All businesses and individuals can benefit greatly from this process. It is all about keeping the reputation of an entity in its cleanest form possible and rectifying a tarnished reputation. Rebuilding a tarnished reputation is not easy.
Branding is all about improving and restoring the name of an individual or a brand. Celebrities do online reputation management all the time and so do multi-national corporations. Many businesses have social media managers whose job it is to track what the social media platforms have containing the company and its products. They will create content for social media and track any negative sentiments aired on social media.
ORM for small businesses
A startup business might not have the time or money to do this work. As a matter of fact, most startups do not think they need ORM. This would have been correct a decade ago — but not in 2016. With the excitement over digital marketing, there is an increase in the use of Internet technology. Even small businesses are doing their marketing on the Internet. This, in turn, leads to an online presence. Simply put, if you do not have an online presence, then you should not expect your business to perform very well.
If you have an online presence, then you will probably need reputation management services. The only difference is, the ORM that is needed by a large scale business might be slightly more than that needed by a start-up business. As people continue to know about your brand, you are going to need to keep track of what they are saying about it. This is the main point of ORM for all businesses — startup or established: track information that is being shared online about your products and brand. Here are some reputation management points for small businesses to note:
1. Negative reviews on feedback sites
More than 80 percent of consumers claim their purchase decision is influenced by online reviews. It is not uncommon to find people searching on Google or Bing to discover if a certain product is good or not. Feedback sites like Yelp are the most influential in this front and getting negative reviews on Yelp can be horrible for a small business. On Yelp there is a low possibility of spammers posting false reports concerning your business. You, as the business owner, cannot create 5-star reports for yourself.
Here is the thing about the feedback sites; they are not exactly the friendliest of platforms. Therefore, the best thing that you can do for your business is not to have a discussion with the negative reviewers on the site. In fact, do not encourage your clients to review your business on Yelp. Ask them to recommend your business to others (the traditional word-of-mouth thing). In the event of a negative review, try to solve it privately. Replying on Yelp is going to push the situation further and possibly make it go viral.
2. Work with the negative reviews
There is not a soul on this planet that loves to be criticized. The same is the case with the online reviews; you are not going to be happy about negative reviews. However, it is not all reviews that are created with an intention of brining your business down. Use the negative reviews to learn of problems in your operation and then improve your methods. These reviews provide you with very good insight concerning how your business is viewed from the customer’s perspective.
3. Recovering from bad reputation incidents
Your business is in a sticky situation with some customers who claim they were not satisfied. This happens to all businesses even Apple, Samsung, Virgin Atlantic etc. All businesses have issues with customer satisfaction. The first thing that you should always keep in mind is that it is easier for a customer to post a negative review than a positive one. This is often because they will be posting the negative review to vent anger.
The best thing that you can do for your enterprise is to solve customer issues as soon as they pop up. A genuine customer will try to contact your customer service agents or drop by your shop to have an issue rectified. Fixing the problem as soon as it appears is going to be great for your business.
4. Keep dirty laundry private
This is probably the wisest thing that you will do for your business. Keep your dirty secrets and whatever else that could tarnish your businesses reputation to yourself. A single photo can mess up your business completely. What usually happens in your small restaurant’s kitchen? How are customers treated when they visit your business? If there is an altercation in your business premises, make sure that you fix it quickly and amicably.
Dirty laundry could also include your political views. Try as much as possible to separate your personal political views from your business. A single post on Facebook or Twitter about some political aspirant can bring your business under fire.
While you might not have the funds to hire a dedicated online reputation manager for your startup or small business you can do the work by yourself. You simply need to know what risks your online reputation is facing so that you are able to make the necessary changes well in advance. This is the best way to keep your enterprise’s online reputation at its best.
Abhishek Srivastav is a professional writer working with RBS Reputation Management, a sister company of Ethane Web Technologies. He loves writing about SEO, social media and reputation management. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.