What is Your Online Reputation?
Your online image is NOT just your business website. There’s much more to it than that – See what Google says about online reputation:
“Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update” – Google
The online reputation of your company is crucial to your ability to attract and keep local customers. People have learned to believe what they read online these days; and that includes any negative or positive information about companies around the world.
Whether this content is true or false, the fact remains that it could cause you to lose potential customers to your competitors. Negative online comments from consumers who have done business with you can directly impact your sales.
Therefore, companies must do everything they can to build a glowing, trusting image online.
This includes monitoring what their customers are saying about them online, as well as implementing strategies to showcase their brands in a positive light.
However, many companies are neglecting their online reputations, which is hurting them and they don’t even realize it. Those who are attempting to manage their brands are making some critical mistakes that can do more harm than good.
In this report, we will discuss some of the most common online reputation mistakes businesses make today and how you can avoid those common pitfalls.
Mistake #1: Not Monitoring What is Being Said About You
Many business owners aren’t engaged with what is happening online at all. However, times have changed. Consumers flock to internet sites and tell the world exactly how they feel about products and services.
Any negative remarks should be addressed and handled appropriately instead of being left unanswered. If your business does not actively keep up with what your customers are saying about you online, you’re taking a huge risk.
You can start by simply searching your business name and see what comes up about your company. If by chance you do come across some negative comments and reviews, you have some work to do. Be sure to do thorough research so you are armed with what you need to buffer the impact of these comments.
Mistake #2: Not Addressing Negative Reviews and Comments at All
Once you find negative information about your company online, address them. Many companies make the mistake of letting these issues go unanswered, which doesn’t look good in the eyes of potential customers.
There are many review sites online today that consumers go to when they want to find out what other consumers think about companies.
Review sites such as Google+ Local, Yelp, Yahoo Local and many others are filled with comments – both negative and positive – about local businesses. Not only that, but consumers also air their concerns on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
If your business has a lot of comments that are not addressed, it could hurt your ability to attract new customers and keep existing ones.
Dealing with online reviews requires that you are consistently monitoring and responding to any customer comments no matter where they are posted.
When answering a question from an angry customer, be sure to apologize for the problem and post how you plan on solving the issue.
Responding to unhappy customers publicly shows your customers and prospects that you’re trust-worthy and that you take their needs and wants seriously.
However, when you ignore those negative remarks, you appear cold and distant as far as customer satisfaction is concerned. Put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes – would you want to do business with a company that doesn’t care about their customers?
Mistake #3: Only Responding to Negative Comments
While it is important to respond to all negative comments and reviews, it is equally important to respond to other comments and reviews – whether mild or positive.
This is as simple as thanking them. Online reputation is much more than just getting rid of the negativity; it is all about creating an overall positive image of your brand.
Therefore, making a simple response to any good feedback about your product or service will show your satisfied customers that you appreciate their comments and their business. This is powerful for customer retention.
Mistake #4: Addressing Negativity in a Disrespectful Manner
Some companies are very sensitive when it comes to negative comments made about them online. They try to fight fire with fire by hastily responding with harsh remarks without thinking it through first.
While there may be many illegitimate complaints about your company online, some of them may be genuine. Even if they are not genuine, you must maintain a professional image and respond positively.
Simply introduce yourself and then address the issue at hand along with how you plan to solve the problem. If you respond in a negative, defensive matter, you could make the problem worse.
Mistake #5: Deleting Negative Comments and Reviews from Customers
As tempting as it may be to make negative online content about your company disappear, it is not a good idea. If your customers and potential customers suspect you of doing this, their trust for your business will go right down the drain.
Sweeping dirt under the rug does not help matters at all. Consumers will respect you better if you simply address the issues at hand publicly.
Negative feedback from customers is going to happen to just about every business. No one expects your reputation to be 100% squeaky clean and complaint-free.
It’s how you handle those complaints that can put your prospects and customers at ease and help them spend their money with you.
Mistake #6: Posting Fake Reviews About Your Company
Many businesses make the huge mistake of posting fake reviews about their companies online. The problem is that consumers can usually tell the difference almost immediately.
Not only that, but it’s unethical and could cause embarrassment to your company, resulting in a negative company image.
Genuine customer reviews are the way to go because they are honest and real. If you have some satisfied customers, they would probably love to give you a good, honest online review.
Fake reviews are sometimes easy to track, so if it’s ever discovered, your brand can be tarnished. So avoid posting fake reviews; it’s not worth the risk.
Mistake #7: Paying and Rewarding Customers to Post Good Reviews
When it comes to online reputation, online customer reviews will go a long way of sending new business your way. However, some businesses make the mistake of paying someone or offering rewards in exchange for a good online review. Compensation includes anything in the form of free products, discounts, or cash.
If consumers find out that you paid someone to post positive reviews about your business, it will have the complete opposite effect of what you were trying to accomplish.
Your reputation will suffer and they will not trust your company. So again, instead of taking this huge risk, simply implement procedures to ask your happy customers to post reviews – without offering them any type of incentive.
If they’re truly happy, they will have no problem doing so and this will result in consistent genuine online reviews for your company.
Mistake #8: Posting Your Personal Opinions Online
Your business and your personal views – such as political or religious – should be kept totally separate. Yes, some of your customers could share the same views as you, but you will also have some who do not. So why take the risk?
Sensitive subjects that are posted on your profiles or website might alienate some people who may have been interested in your business.
So it could cause more harm than the intended good. Prior to posting any controversial topics on your website or social media profiles, strongly consider the impact it will have on your ability to get new customers.
Not only that, but consider how it could change the relationship you have with your existing customers.
Mistake #9: Not Implementing Social Media Guidelines for Employees
Unfortunately, what your employees say online can impact your business – even if their comments are not directly related to your company.
The fact is, if your employees stir up a negative image online, it could be a reflection of your business. However, many companies make the mistake of not implementing a social media policy for their employees.
This will help define acceptable behaviors for employees on social media sites and limit any misconduct that might paint a bad picture of your business.
Without this policy, you may have to deal with issues that will either waste your time and money or cause serious legal issues.
Mistake #10: Not Engaging with Your Online Audience
There are many reasons why it is important to engage with your audience. Online reputation management is all about building a positive image for your brand. Engagement builds trust as well as brand awareness, so it is one of the most powerful ways to get and keep customers.
Many businesses neglect to engage with their online audience, which is a missed opportunity to boost profits. Consumers today expect businesses that they follow online to be involved and interacting with them in some form or fashion.
Therefore, be sure to incorporate this into your marketing funnel.
Mistake #11: Posting Irrelevant Content
Content is extremely important when it comes to establishing a strong online presence. The tricky part is choosing the right type of content to publish – the type of content that fits your particular type of business.
Many companies are making efforts to drastically increase the amount of content they post and distribute online. However, some of them are making the critical mistake of distributing content that simply is not relevant to their industry or their business.
Relevant content is not only required for optimal search engine results on targeted keywords related t your industry, but it is also required to keep your audience interested in your brand.
Mistake #12: Posting Way Too Much Content
When it comes to posting online content, short and to-the-point usually works best. When you write too much, there is a chance you will lose your audience’s attention as well as lose focus yourself. People today do not want to read long pages of content. Instead, break your content up into smaller bites and post them accordingly.
Some businesses also make the mistake of posting content too frequently. You should develop a consistent plan to distribute content, but do not go overboard with it as it could turn your audience off.
This could cause them to leave a review or negative comment about your business, which is what you do not want.
Therefore, focus on posting short pieces of content that are full of value in the eyes of your target market. Then, distribute the content on a schedule that makes sense for your type of business.
Mistake #13: Not Creating a Long-Term Online Reputation Management Plan
Online reputation management goes much further than the topics mentioned in this report. It also involves proactively monitoring and managing your online image going forward.
The internet is not expected to go away anytime soon. As long as it is around, your customers will go there to tell the world how they feel about your product or service. Not only that, but your potential customers will go there to see what others are saying about you.
Can you see how neglecting your precious online image can be detrimental to your ability to generate new local leads, customers, and sales?
Start by developing a plan to dig deep into the internet to find any negative feedback regarding your business.
Then, include initiatives to have any negativity thoroughly addressed and resolved.
Implement strategies that involve consistently creating positive, relevant content that your audience will enjoy.
Once you get these pieces of the puzzle together, rinse and repeat your efforts on an ongoing basis. Over time, your business should be able to retain its positive image – or clean it up if it’s already tarnished.