Control Your Online Reputation, Or Someone Else Will!

by Eddie Reeves on March 24, 2013

It was a disaster.

A friend of mine who started a faith-based business network called in a panic to ask my help in addressing a crisis threatening to destroy his new but rapidly-growing group: A disgruntled former member who had been asked to leave the group based on unacceptable personal behavior had proceeded to torch the group, its members and my friend all over the internet — social media sites, business directories, discussion forums, etc.

Fortunately, we were able to repair the reputation damage to a great extent, but not without many man-hours of effort and great angst.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. One of the most important, but unfortunately still neglected areas of marketing is that of online reputation management.  The truth is that your organization’s brand is being influenced and even determined to a great extent by how others judge it and express those judgements online.

According to eMarketer 83% of consumers declare that online reviews influence their opinions about a particular company, and 8 of 10 of these individuals added that a unfavorable entry in the search engines has caused them to change their opinion. One bad review, true or not, can thwart all of your best brand-building efforts if you don’t have an online reputation strategy set up. Keeping that in mind, I offer the following five strategies your business can implement to monitor and strengthen your online reputation management:

  1. Monitoring your brand names – Listening what’s being said about you and your business is of vital importance. There are plenty of fantastic free tools to help in this regard like Google Alerts, and Hootsuite.  They do not go as deep or robust as some professional tools, but they are a great start.
  2. Claim your social properties – Unclaimed social media sites can be utilized by your rivals for all kinds of mischief. Make sure you claim at least all the major social sites that could relate to your brand.
  3. Own as much of page one of Google as you can – One way to make sure what people read about you whenever they Google you is to own most if not all of Google page one for your brand names via expert search engine optimization, or SEO.
  4. Ask for customer reviews – Customer reviews aren’t just going to magically appear: you must actively seek them out. Make a point of prompting your customers to write reviews, and do everything you can to make it easy for them: links to review sites, examples from other customers, etc. Of course, if you offer incentives, make it clear that you’re not offering a bribe. Doing that will come back to haunt you!
  5. Make engagement a high priority – Engaging with your commenters and social media posters is a terrific strategy to discourage any negativity from the start.

Online reputation management is crucial in this day of instant and ubiquitous communication. Don’t neglect yours!

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