Managing a Business' Online Reputation

by Thursday Bram on September 3, 2010


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Categories : Being Social

Are you listening to what’s being said about your business online? Do you know what people find when they search for your name online? What reputation does your business have in the online world?

I sat down with a new client — a moving company — a few months back and we searched his company on Google. The first thing that came up was an extremely negative review that he wasn’t aware was out there. He tried to explain the situation to me: a move had gone badly when a mover dropped furniture. The mover went to the hospital the next day and passed away soon after — certainly something most people would consider mitigating circumstances.

But this client was telling the wrong person: I wasn’t planning to hire him and I didn’t need to know his reputation before I trusted him with all of my possessions. Instead, he needed to tell all of the potential customers searching for moving companies online and coming across this horrible review.

Your Reputation is Your Responsibility

Even at the best companies, things can occasionally go wrong. But that doesn’t really matter online, where most people get only a two-dimensional picture of your business before making a decision. That means that you have to take charge of your online reputation and work hard to make sure that it looks good. You can hire someone to come in and clean up online messes, but taking action to prevent them is much less expensive and will save you problems later on.

First and foremost, your business needs to operate in such a way to minimize problems. Check in with clients regularly and listen to concerns before they can get posted online. Be accessible. You also need to keep track of what’s being said about you online and respond as necessary. Furthermore, your responses need to be transparent and positive — starting an online fight is a fast way to lose. Resolve problems and discuss the resolution process in a place where it can be seen. Only when an issue has been addressed can you truly ask a client or customer to remove a negative review.

Proactive Reputation Management

You should be active online at the best times and worst times, as well as any time in between, assuming you want to build a good reputation. Limiting yourself to responses to problems only means that you’ll build a not-bad reputation. You don’t necessarily need to use every social media platform to broadcast how cool you are, but devoting time to one platform and acting as a resource can help your reputation. That can look differently for individual companies, but it can include answering questions or discussing upcoming changes in depth. It can take some experimentation to find the right approach for your company, especially considering any time constraints you’re facing, but a great reputation is worth the effort. Even landing just a few customers on the base of your reputation can pay for the time spent protecting it.

Image by Flickr user OliBac

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