Managing Your Small Business’s Online Reputation
It is not a matter of if, but when someone will post a negative review online about your small business. This less-than-stellar review may or may not come as a shock. Many online reviewers today will air their frustration under the cover of online anonymity than face to face with you. When that happens, don’t get defensive. Get proactive.
No local small business can risk ignoring their online reputation. It is as much a part of your marketing strategy as any other tactic you undertake. Your small business’s reviews on Google or social channels like Facebook or Yelp can have a much broader impact than perhaps turning off a few potential customers. They can even hurt your search engine rankings, if you let them pile up without addressing them. The best way to address them, besides responding appropriately online (we’ll get to this later), is to build your company’s and team’s credibility with a strong online presence.
As a Kansas City marketing agency devoted to working with small business, our social media and digital experts guide business owners every day in managing their online reputations. Here are six of their top tips to do so proactively, saving you from going on the defense.
1. Create accounts on all the major review and social media platforms where your customers are and that make sense for your business, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Yelp and Google.
2. Be active and present on your social media accounts.
Before sharing on your social media accounts, ask yourself, “Does this matter to my customers?” You know your customers better than anyone, so even if there is the smallest doubt, don’t post it. Remember, people are inundated with content. Your goal is not to add to the noise, but rather to add content that is relevant.
Blogging is a natural source for social media content. Plus, it has the added benefit of leading followers to your website and including keywords that help with your organic search engine optimization (SEO). Having video on your website helps increase the time a visitor stays on your site, which tells search engines your site is valuable, moving you up in the rankings. Perhaps most importantly, visitors are 64%-85% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
3. Develop strong social presences for your small business’ founders, owners and executives.
For many small businesses these leaders often serve as the face of the company. Establishing robust profile pages for your high-profile team members give you that many more channels on which to share your social media content. By encouraging company leaders to share content from the business’s posts, you’re putting it in front of more eyeballs for better engagement and return on your content marketing investment.
4. Listen to online complaints and respond accordingly.
Someone at some point will post a “This place sucks!” review or the equivalent. It’s natural to feel defensive, but take a deep breath and be objective. Your negative reviewer may have a legitimate beef, or he or she may not. If the review holds water, respond and try to make it right without creating friction. Other readers will note your effort. After all, many times it’s not a mistake that harms company reputations, but how it’s handled.
If it’s truly an unwarranted rant, keep Mark Twain’s wise words in mind, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” To avoid escalating the problem, give the reviewer a way to communicate with you offline. For small businesses, it’s easy to lose sight of where you end and your business begins. Stay on a professional level and protect your personal privacy by responding to reviewers using your business account.
5. Use an online reputation management tool, like Yext, to monitor all platforms where reviews/comments can be shared, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Business, Yelp, etc., which saves time versus checking each one individually.
6. Don’t underestimate the power your online reputation has on your recruiting efforts. Taking care to protect it can increase interest among potential candidates. Your online reputation reflects your company culture, so make it an enticing place to work.
Ultimately, having a strong, positive online presence can override any negative. The last thing any small business owner wants is for a negative review to be the first result when the company name is Googled. By having more positive content out there, search engines have more to index and can effectively push any negative posts far down the results.
Have questions about implementing any of the above tips our social media experts can help. Let’s talk.