Imagine a day like any other day. You arrive at the office, a cup of coffee in hand, and sit down to check your company’s Twitter account.
As you peruse your timeline, you see you’ve received a mention! Excitedly, you click the notification to see what your new friend has to say.
To your horror, it isn’t nice at all. In fact, they’ve concluded their message with a hashtag to boycott your brand. Worse, the tweet already has 200 retweets and it’s starting to go viral!
You’ve got a crisis on your hands and no idea how to solve it.
Reputation management is such an important part of running a modern business. And yet so many businesses neglect it and suffer as a result.
But you can learn from their mistakes. Here’s a brief overview of online presence management along with some tips to help you improve your presence.
Amy’s Baking Company: A Lesson In Why Online Presence Management Matters
Suffice to say, managing an online presence and reputation can a difficult task. Especially in a world comprising of almost two million unique websites.
For a perfect example of why your reputation matters — even when there are two million live websites — let’s look at a perfect example of what you should never do.
Amy’s Baking Company was a small, unassuming restaurant located in Arizona. The struggling restaurant wasn’t known for its food, but it’s owners’ explosive tempers.
The owners would often engage in hostile interactions with their customers, crippling their already hobbled business. These interactions weren’t limited to in-person conversations, either.
In fact, Amy would make a habit of responding to every negative Yelp review in a hostile and angry manner.
Following their appearance on Kitchen Nightmares, customers flocked to review websites and social media to read the reviews and create their own. Following months of online back-and-forths between Amy and her customers, Amy’s Baking Company had to shut its doors for good.
So what can we learn from the disaster known as Amy’s Baking Company?
That your reputation matters so much more than you think. Sure, the restaurant had tons of other problems, but it was ultimately sheer rage and combativeness expressed online that caused the store to shutter.
Ways To Improve Your Online Reputation
If the story about Amy’s Baking Company left you reeling, you’re not alone. It was an eye-opening experience for business owners and served as a perfect example of how a brand’s online reputation can either help or hurt a company.
You can avoid becoming the next Amy’s Baking Company by implementing these reputation monitoring strategies.
Research Your Current Web Presence
In order to improve your reputation, you’ll first need to see how you stack up and how much work you’ll need to do. For now, a simple Google search will suffice, though analytics can help more if you have the time and money.
Type in your brand’s name and scroll until you find it. If your company isn’t located within the first three results, you’re missing out on 61.5% of all search traffic.
It isn’t a death sentence if your company isn’t on the first page of Google, but it does mean that you’ll need to boost your presence significantly.
Our prior example is a paramount example of the significance of online reviews. Imagine if Amy and Samy contacted the customer calmly and privately or let the online reviews be altogether.
There’s a good chance they’d still be around today.
As dreadful as the fear of negative feedback can be, it’s more important that your customers have a platform to discuss your company.
You’ll want to focus your efforts on generating as many online reviews as possible. Sites like FourSquare, Yelp, Angie’s List, and the sidebar of Google all allow for free or low-cost business citations and reviews.
Track Your Mentions
Once you’ve completed a bit of rudimentary research, it’s time to better control the conversation about your business. Set up a Google Alerts page for your company as well as your competition.
Whenever someone mentions your business, you’ll receive a notification and can best decide how to handle the comment.
Revamp Your Website
Part of boosting your online presence requires you to make peace with Google. If you’re not adhering to current SEO standards, your website could be in need of an overhaul.
As you begin your redesign, place yourself in the shoes of your customers. Google prioritizes usability, so a simple, elegant website will rank higher than a complicated mess any day.
Use Your Web Presence To Address Customers’ Needs
A large percentage of consumers rely on social media to connect with their favorite brands and seek assistance. As a result, your social media channels are now a hybrid between a marketing tool and a customer service platform.
Always make sure to respond to customers as fast as possible. Remember, customers have more choice than ever. It won’t take much for them to turn to your competitor. But a fast remedy to their problem could boost your customer retention.
If it isn’t abundantly clear by now, you’ll also want to remain kind and patient — even if the customer isn’t. Take the issue offline as fast as possible and work with them to solve the issue in a private manner.
Finally, don’t remove the initial comment, even after the problem is fixed. Responding to their comments shows that your company is listening and that your brand is willing to make things right.
Don’t Fight Negative Reviews
No one likes getting criticized, but the fact remains that the Internet is much like the Wild West. People can more or less do and say what they want with little to no consequences.
It’s up to you to react accordingly.
There are only two circumstances in which you should ask a site to take down a review: If the review qualifies as harassment or if it’s outright false and you can prove it.
Otherwise, leave negative reviews be and address them as discussed in the previous section.
Should you attempt to remove a negative review otherwise, customers may see your attempt as a way to silence them, thus making a bad situation worse.
Get Your Reputation Back With These Online Presence Management Solutions
As you can see, your online presence management can have a massive impact on your brand’s success. Once you’ve managed to grow that presence, don’t forget to do your best to keep hold of the conversation.
It may take some time, effort, and a whole lot of deep breaths, but it’ll be worth it once you’ve increased sales and conquered every search engine.
If you’re looking for ways to grow your brand’s presence or manage its reputation, we’d love to help. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can take your brand from invisible to the top of Google.