The birth of web 2.0 has changed the way we do business online. Online promotion is no longer a monologue – it has become a dialogue, now that customers have access to a platform from which they can voice their opinions.
As a business owner, you can benefit immensely from the interaction and word-of-mouth advertising that the social web encourages. But if you don’t keep track of what’s being said about your brand and address issues in a timely manner, negative feedback left by disgruntled customers, ex-employees, or competitors could cause you to lose business.
Below are 7 ways to manage your online reputation, so you can nip bad news in the bud before it has a chance to do damage to the online presence you’ve worked so hard to build.
1. Google yourself
The first and most important step in online reputation management is finding out where you stand by Googling your business’s name. What results are on the first page? Who is talking about your brand online and what are they saying? Are there any negative results you need to address?
2. Use tools to monitor your business’s reputation online
There are several tools available that help you keep track of what is being said about your business online. The most popular tools are Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts. Google Alerts monitors Google Web Search, Google Blog Search, and Google News, while Yahoo Alerts monitors Yahoo News, Personals, Stocks, and much more. Some people use both Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts because they return different results at times.The Social Mention Alerts tool can also come in handy because it tracks relevant social media results. Another useful tool is Board Tracker, which tracks mentions on boards and forums.
3. Filter feeds into an RSS reader
While it’s possible to have results emailed to you, most business owners have a hard time keeping up with their emails as it is. To prevent email overload and make it easier to keep tabs on incoming results, consider filtering them into an RSS reader.
4. Track anything and everything related to your company and industry
Online reputation management goes beyond tracking what people are saying about your company. In addition to monitoring your company’s name, variations of your company’s name, the names of your most important employees, and the names of your products/services, keep track of information related to your competitors and your industry at large to maintain a competitive edge.
5. Monitor results hourly
If possible, monitor results hourly, so you can find and address negative commentary early on. Bad news spreads quickly, especially online, so taking immediate action is imperative.
6. Respond to criticism
If you discover through your monitoring efforts that people are making incomplete or inaccurate statements about your business, don’t hesitate to address them. However, avoid responding immediately because it could backfire if you don’t get all of the facts first. Put off your response for a bit to ensure that you’ve got all of the information you need to tackle the issue.
7. Correct your own mistakes publicly
No one’s perfect. Even the best of us make mistakes every now and again. You can set yourself apart, however, by making an effort to correct your mistakes publicly instead of ignoring them or trying to hide them.
For example, if you make a customer service blunder and find out that one of your customers complained about it in a public forum, show that customer how much you value his business by apologizing to him in the forum, telling him you’re going to resolve the issue, and giving him a discount, coupon, or freebie. These actions have the potential to turn an angry customer into a happy one that raves about your business and recommends you to others.
BusinessCreator, Inc. provides reputation management and reputation repair services for clients in an array of industries. Please contact us for more information.