Online reputation management (ORM) is a hot topic in the digital world. Having a formal strategy to deal with what is being said about your brand or company personnel – and, more importantly, what shows up on the search results pages – is an area that demands the attention of Web workers.
Fortunately, it is not that difficult to monitor and, over time, alter and shape your online reputation. Obviously, step one is to offer a quality product or service and to practice appropriate and thoughtful customer-service techniques, but even that isn’t always enough to satisfy every customer with an Internet connection.
They Said What?!
The first thing to do is to find out exactly what is being said about your brand or company; where it is being said, why it is being said and by whom. Search for your business’ name, your products and services, your own name if you are the owner, and the names of other important people within the company. Pay special attention to sites like Yelp, Google Places, Local.com and Yellow Pages, where customers usually share opinions and reviews, but don't limit your search to these sites alone.
Join the Conversation
After you discover what people are saying about your brand/company online, you have to determine the best way to deal with it – especially concerning negative reviews and opinions. The most effective tactic is simply to respond (nicely!) to complaints and reviews, which shows that you’re listening to customer feedback and taking their issues into consideration. This gesture alone helps to improve your online reputation by showing that you care. The next step, of course, is to act on the feedback you are receiving from your customers.
One way to reduce the impact and visibility of negative
comments or reviews is to increase the amount of positive user-based
information about your business on the Web. Encourage your customers to write about their positive experiences on sites like Facebook, Yelp and Google Places.
Feature links to your pages on these sites on your website and in social
media profiles, as well as displaying them in your business' physical location if you have
Claim Your Reputation
Remember that you should always work to improve your online reputation, even if it doesn't appear to require improving. It always helps to accentuate your company's strengths and advertise the positive things being said about your business. Share recommendations, awards and achievements that your business receives by writing about them in your company blog and distributing them through social networking. Reputation dashboards are an effective way to monitor your social media campaigns, as we covered in the October 2011 issue of WM.
The best time to start establishing your online reputation is yesterday. Having a negative reputation on the Web can greatly damage a company’s image, but a positive one can help take your business to the next level.