What is Your Online Reputation?
Your online image is composed of many parts, not just your business website. Reputation management is becoming very important. With the growth of social media marketing you would be surprised just where your details (or comments) can pop up! Google’s perspective on your cyber identity is this:
“Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update,” – Google
So reputation management is about taking care of your online reputation – which is an amalgam of all data about your business that is held in online databases/servers etc. The breadth of information that may potentially affect your business’ online reputation is broader than you might realise initially. Here are a few of the components of your online image:
- Comments made about your business on social media such as Twitter or Facebook
- Online images related to your business
- Videos about your business (Good or Bad) on YouTube and other video directories
- Posts and articles published by you
- Geo-location information broadcast through services like Foursquare
- Comments made by your site visitors or that others make about you in social media forums
- Images copied from your business website that other people publish on social media
Email or instant messaging could potentially be a source of comments or information that can be copied and published on public forums.
In fact, if you’re starting to see that virtually anything that others do, that you have no control over, could become part of your business’ online reputation, then you get the picture. Now take into account tablet devices and smart phones, which allow people to read and write reviews from anywhere. You can see how a negative comment about your business can hit harder and travel faster than ever before.
Why Reputation Management Should Matter To You
Many business owners have found themselves in the position of being the target of attacks online. They may be falsely accused, slandered, and made the brunt of absolute untruths. It’s a growing issue. The impact and cost to your business can be immediate and staggering.
Here are some common internet search facts you should know about:
- 95% of internet users do not search past the first page of search engine results. So, if the first thing they see is a bad comment regarding your business – they won’t look further.
- 60-80% of potential buyers research a product on the internet before actually deciding to buy .
- 72% of those that research will not buy if there’s a negative comment
Imagine if you were searching for spas online. Out of three business sites you found, one had bad comments from a disgruntled customer and two others had multiple stars and positive reviews. Which one wouldn’t you do business with?
The business with the most stars and reviews, of course! So, you can see how your business’ online reputation can directly impact your bottom line. Now the question is: How to grow, improve, and protect it.
Here is a short list of the most important activities all small business owners can be doing in the area of reputation management.
- Get more positive reviews – ask your clients to place reviews on your Google Places pages. Video record your customers giving raving testimonials and post these on YouTube
- Optimise your website and ensure you perform (or engage someone to) SEO to raise your site to the first page of Google (where all those positive comments and reviews take pride of place).
- Handle genuine customer complaints quickly! Do not get upset and enter into a mud slinging match online. Your objective should be to respond to a negative comment and engage the complainant to allow the discussion to be taken offline. If you satisfy the customer then they may well retract their comment or remove it.
- If the comment or review is not true – again do not get upset. Demonstrating concern and a desire to discuss the specifics of the complaint – it will go a long way towards showing other potential customers that you are interested in their feedback and want to improve the situation.