by Grace Barone
In today's digital world, where a single online review or social media post can make or break a small business, managing your online reputation has become an essential survival skill. It's like being the conductor of a symphony, carefully orchestrating every note to create a harmonious melody that resonates with your audience. Whether you're a budding startup or an established local gem, the key to thriving lies in proactively shaping public perception and transforming your online presence into a captivating virtuoso performance. Get ready to learn the art of managing your small business's online reputation, where every click, comment, and mention can elevate you to stardom or leave you lost in the abyss of the internet.
Different Kinds of Media
Managing an online reputation is a lot more than making sure you have a 5 star rating on Google and are posting regularly on social media. The first step is learning about the different kinds of media. This way, you can come up with a strategy for managing each one.
This is any online media that you control. Your small businesses website, blogs, pages on 3rd party websites, email newsletters, etc. This is the easiest media to control and manage your online reputation with. You have complete autonomy over what is being published. The best way to take advantage of the narrative you present to the public with your owned media is through a strong SEO strategy. Ideally you want pages that you control to be featured on the first page of Google. Make sure you're regularly creating and publishing good quality owned media.
This is any free exposure and coverage your small business receives from third party platforms. This could be press coverage, articles written about your business on other websites, forums, review sites you don't control like Google or Yelp, etc. Earned media is very important for your small businesses online reputation. Positive mentions of your small business reinforce trust with your audience as well as Google. When the Google algorithm sees an increase of positive off-page activity, they will give more authority and trust to your brand. This will translate to higher rankings. This means there's a greater chance your owned media will be the first thing people see.
Social media accounts are the main kinds of shared media. This is any content that is shared between your small businesses brand and other platforms. Some people think that social media is owned media since you control what gets posted. Although you own your profiles and you create the posts, anyone can comment or respond. Its very important to pay attention to how people are engaging with your business across your shared media. If you have a lot of negative comments or reviews on social media, it will seriously affect your brands image. One of the main advantages of shared media is the potential for virality and reach. When there is a lot of engagement with your content, it can have a ripple effect, and let you reach a larger network of people. This organic reach can expand your businesses visibility and generate new leads or customers.
Paid media includes all avenues, platforms and digital marketing that you pay for to feature your brand. This includes social media ads, Google ads, sponsored content, etc. Paid media can reinforce your preferred brand narrative. But, it's not as valuable as earned or owned media. Customers trust organic search results much more than advertisements. Although having a few paid ads can definitely broaden your reach and give you more exposure to the public.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Online reviews are critical for a positive online reputation. 53% of buyers do research on a search engine before they make a purchase and 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses. You want to make sure your reviews online are good. Of course, there's no way to make everyone happy and there will always be some bad reviews. Having one or two bad reviews is okay but if its bad review after bad review, your businesses success is sure to tank. Depending on your business type, there are different sites that people often look at first.
- Google: This is the most trusted review platform for all industries, it's usually the first thing that pops up and the easiest one for customers to leave reviews on.
- Trip Advisor: This site is popular for accommodation businesses like hotels, bed and breakfasts, etc.
- Yelp: Restaurants and bars are typically the businesses that have the most credible reviews on Yelp.
- BBB: The Better Business Bureau is usually for professional trade and real estate industry reviews.
Social media attention is equally as important as online reviews. Anyone can make a social media post about your business. These kinds of reviews can make or break a business due to the speed and reach of social media. A great example of this (or maybe a not so great one) has to do with a social media post about United Airlines in 2017. Someone recorded and posted a video of a flight crew dragging a passenger off a plane. The video got over 1 million views and soon after, United Airlines lost over $1 billion in market value. Being cautious and aware of the social media buzz surrounding your business can save you from irreparable damage to your brand.
Online Reputation Strategy
There is a lot to be mindful of while trying to manage an online reputation. Coming up with a solid strategy can do wonders for your small business and should be something you prioritize. Here's a list of 5 concepts that you can pick and choose from to come up with your own online reputation strategy tailored to your brands needs.
1. Craft a Strong Online Presence with SEO
Small businesses that want to succeed in the digital era must establish a strong online presence using SEO (Search Engine Optimization). To find pertinent and popular search terms relating to your business, start by conducting keyword research. Semrush is a great site to do keyword research. By strategically using these keywords in page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and the body text, you may optimize the content on your website. To improve user experience, make sure your website is simple to use, responsive to mobile devices, and loads quickly. Build trustworthy backlinks from websites in your field to boost the authority of your website.
3. Deliver the Best Customer Service
One way to make sure more of your reviews online are positive is prioritizing customer service. Make sure your customers feel positive about their interactions with your brand. Sometimes things that happen are out of your control, if a customer does have a bad experience, make sure you do everything you can to remedy the situation while they're still at your business. A customer should never feel like they need to post a bad review or a negative social media post to be heard by your business. Train your employees to demonstrate excellent customer service at all times.
4. Respond to Comments and Reviews
Another way to make managing an online reputation easier, is to respond to your customers comments. 78% of customers say that when brands respond to their feedback, it feels like the business cares about them. No matter if the review is positive or negative, you should respond. Saying thank you for the good review or acknowledging the bad one and giving an option to get in contact or how to make the situation better. This goes for social media comments as well. If you post something and people are commenting, make sure you reply. This not only shows that you care about the people commenting, it also shows that a real person is posting and looking at what's being said. This can increase your engagement and help your shared media success.
5. Personalize Everything
By making customer experiences personalized, it creates the feeling of being valued and makes it easier to connect to your business. Understanding your consumers' preferences, wants, and habits is the first step in providing them with customized experiences. To gather information and obtain insights, use surveys, feedback forms, and consumer contacts. Client relationship management (CRM) solutions can be used to monitor and examine customer information. Utilize this data to your advantage by customizing your communications, offerings, and services to each client's preferences. Implement individualized offers and recommendations based on their previous purchases or browsing patterns. Make sure the personalization isn't just surface level. For example, if you're utilizing marketing emails. Don't just use your customers first name, tailor what you're sending so they only get material relevant to them.
Making Sure your Business has a Positive Online Reputation
You want to make sure your brands reputation online is the best that it can be. VMS offers many tools that can help you with managing your online reputation. Our POS systems have options for in-depth customer data tracking to make personalized experiences a breeze. We can also help you set up a customer loyalty program or a cash discount program to entice people to keep coming back. If you'd like to set up your business with a nice website, we can help with that too! If you'd like to learn more about what we can do to help you manage your online reputation, visit getvms.com or fill out the form below!