When it comes to your business, your online presence is critical to your success. While the majority of business owners understand that positive word-of-mouth referrals are the lifeline of their business’s reputation, those crucial referrals are just as important when they are posted digitally.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Online Reputation Management is what the digital age now calls word-of-mouth based referrals. It is the process of managing what people are saying about your business online, whether it is a review, a mention, or a simple listing.

When a person searches your business category, Google takes your review score into account when determining rankings. Poor reviews can cause your ranking to plummet. 

Reviews matter. Your reputation starts with reviews. While most are familiar with Facebook and Google, there are thousands of niche review websites such as Yelp and Dealer Rater that have extremely loyal audiences who you could be capitalizing on.

Social media comments, groups, and reviews. Your business may already be on social media, managing your own content, but it is important to also be aware that customers are eagerly leaving reviews, and leaving comments about your business. Groups can especially be a treasure trove of chatter about your business, and it is important to actively join and participate to maintain your reputation.

News sites are massive reputation influencers. It is safe to say this is something your business is closely watching, and whether it is positive or negative, news and reviews are often intimately linked. It is important to have a crisis management plan in place to manage negative news articles before they implode your star ratings.

Blogs have high traffic and can be as influential as a news article. Industry blogs can be some of the most important influencers to manage and work with. Blogs can bring a positive spotlight to your business and promote your brand or can negatively impact your reputation. They are incredibly niche and can be a valuable resource.

Forums offer a dedicated audience of informed, passionate consumers. It is important to understand that this lesser known source can have a huge impact on your reputation. While you may already be familiar with Reddit, there are tons more that, if your product joins the discussion, can bring you sales and traffic. Check your industry and look carefully for forums in your niche as they can provide deep insight into your audience.

If handled effectively, your online channels can serve as a positive point of contact for your customers. 

Why is it important?

Whether you like it or not, your customers, prospects, and clients are talking about your business. Transparency is a growing expectation of all businesses, and when your customers give feedback, they expect a fast, one-to-one response.

Your digital reputation can be an asset for your business to utilize to provide social proof for your product, or an obstacle that is stopping potential customers from even walking through the door. According to BrightLocal, “85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”

Positive reviews provide validity to your business and encourage potential customers to try your services.

What should your business be doing?

Respond Quickly & Tactfully

If you ignore it, it won’t go away. When a customer leaves a comment or review, a response is absolutely required. According to the Local Consumer Review Survey provided by BrightLocal, “Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses.” When customers take the time to discuss your business, they are expecting a one-to-one conversation, and are looking to have their concerns heard.

Save face. In many instances, a proper response to negative feedback will not only satisfy the initial reviewer (potentially prompting them to change their review) but will also show future customers that you do take customer feedback seriously and that it is a priority for your business.

Speed is the name of the game. It is better to respond with a quick, “Thank you for addressing this concern, we are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible,” than letting it sit in order to provide more information.

By staying on top of a crisis early, and publicly, your business can turn a negative experience into a positive. Companys should also be careful to not “feed the trolls” by getting into online arguements with provokers looking to get a rise.

Ensure Accurate Listings Across the Web

Ensuring accurate listings for your business should go without saying, but it is something that is frequently forgotten. There are thousands of websites that list business’s information, and if there is a wrong phone number or address, you could be leading your customers away.

While it may seem tedious to be checking every single website that may have your company’s information, there are resources available that will comb through the internet for you. At Ello, we are proud to offer an easy to use Online Reputation Management service that is both effective and won’t break the bank.

Accurate business listings make sure customers find what they need.

What should you do with false, or defamatory language?

While a mean tweet or comment may be frustrating, it probably won’t cause your business to close its doors and are relatively easy to manage. What about reviews that are blatantly false, or hate blogs aimed at ruining your reputation?

These gems need more than a quick quip. Neil Patel lays out a plan of attack best with these three options to restore your online reputation:

Aggressive SEO: If someone googles your name, appearing on page 1 and 2 of the search results will be much more important than your business card or website. They will show at a glance several high-ranking web sources talking about you. If they display false information, the first thing that you or your online reputation management company should do is devise a search marketing strategy that increases the ranking of positive content, owned by either you or third parties. The search engine game is too important to be ignored, and it is the first step in restoring your image.

Review removal: Did that user claim something false about your company? Is that review clearly aimed at destroying your reputation rather than providing feedback? Does it contain improper language? Legal liaison and speed of reaction will make it possible to remove the negative review.

Online investigations: In case of serious attacks to your brand image, it may be necessary to hire skilled online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers via email tracing, data cross-indexing, and other information collection techniques. Cyber investigations are the definitive path to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.

*Credit for this list goes to Dan Virgillito view his full article here.

Monitor, monitor, monitor

The key factor in managing your online reputation is knowing what people are saying and responding quickly. The only way to do this effectively is to do some form of monitoring.

For a free option, Google Alerts is a service that shows you where you have been mentioned in the past day.

For an affordable option, Ello offers Reputation Management software that combs the internet for listings, reviews, and mentions.

For more resources: Check out talkwalker’s blog here.

How can Ello help?

We are excited to share that our real-time software picks up when your company name is mentioned, even if it isn’t tagged. Our customers can use the software to reply to reviews and comments directly through the platform, meaning everything is available in one place.

For a final shameless plug, our software also measures how you are doing compared to your competitors in terms of volume of search results for a particular service category, as well as the growth of their social media audiences.

For more information on how Ello Marketing + Design Co can help, contact us.

Fortune favors the prepared.

No matter how your business decides to manage its reputation, you do need a response plan. When a PR crisis hits, having a plan of attack that your entire team is aware of will be an incredible asset. Know what to watch for, and be prepared to jump on an issue early, and publicly.

Blog Resources

A CMO’s Guide to Online Reputation Management: https://mention.com/blog/cmo-guide-to-online-reputation-management/?utm_source=zest.is&utm_medium=referral&utm_term=zst.598a36781de0a

Assessing Your Brand’s Digital Presence: Core Aspects of Multi-Location Reputation Management:  https://www.vendasta.com/blog/multi-location-brand-reputation-management?utm_source=zest.is&utm_medium=referral&utm_term=zst.5ac0c9fd3840a

Local Consumer Review Survey:  https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

Online Reputation Management: A Guide for Social Media Marketers: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/online-reputation-management-guide-for-social-media-marketers/?utm_source=zest.is&utm_medium=referral&utm_term=zst.5b2fdc5ebf56a

The Definitive Guide to Online Reputation Management: https://neilpatel.com/blog/guide-to-reputation-management/

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