With all that business owners have to deal with in today’s fast-paced environment, one thing that sometimes gets overlooked is their company’s online reputation.
While it seems like it should be a top priority for businesses large and small, some company heads try and tune out its importance, focusing more on sales, advertising and generating leads. That being said, what is your company’s take on the importance of online reputation?
Is online reputation a top priority, falls in the category of important but not near the top of the list, or is looked upon as we’ll worry about it when the time comes?
The bottom line that many business owners fail to incorporate into their daily work lives is that building a great brand online can take weeks, months and years to foster. On the flip side, it can be destroyed in minutes, hours and days if one is not careful.
In order to place your online reputation so that it has the best chance to prosper, keep these factors in mind:
- Be a traffic hall monitor online– Remember your days in school when an adolescent would monitor your school’s halls looking for kids running instead of walking, talking too loudly or using abusive language, and trying their best to skip class? The same holds true in overseeing your online reputation. You need to monitor what is said about your business, when it was said, and who is saying it. The worst thing a business owner can do is let negative comments about the company go unchallenged. Unlike days gone past when an upset customer would write a letter or leave a phone message, more and more consumers take to the Internet to voice their displeasure with a company and its product and/or services. While you may still get the letter or phone call from time to time, you are more likely to see someone talking about you online. In essence you are running a background check on your business online to see what everyone is talking about;
- Be a leader, not a follower – One of the great ways for your company to build up its online footprints is by becoming relevant in online discussions within your industry. If you run an online interior decorating business, one great way to be more relevant within your line of work is by discussing the latest trends in your industry. Consumers will come to see your company as a go-to site for information, leading more eyes to your pages;
- Be factual with your online comments – Whether it is posting information regarding your business or industry or responding to negative consumer comments, be sure to present the facts and just the facts. Your company’s online reputation will be called into question if you make up statements or take the low road with individuals online. It is important to give a prompt and courteous response to someone when they come to your site or a related forum to question your products and/or services. Make sure that you do not go off on a tangent and attack the individual. When posting industry information, be a precise as possible and provide any necessary attributions so that people can trust your site when they come to it for information;
- Be sure to hit search engines with positive and worthwhile content – Along with your company’s blog, be sure to reach out to online services to run company content in the form of press releases, infographics and more. This is a great way to get your company name on the Internet and in a positive manner. It allows you free publicity (except in instances where sites charge you to post press releases, etc.) and an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot, i.e. the news is fresh and relevant. By doing this, you also lessen the impact any negative online comments/content will have on your business;
- Be a good listener – Lastly, make sure you and/or whoever is monitoring your site provide a good ear to those with something to say. Too often, business owners do too much talking and not enough listening. If someone goes to your site or a related forum to take issue with your company, listen to what their complaint is and just don’t brush it aside. In many cases, customers will give you and your company a second chance to correct a wrong if you show you’re caring about their needs.
As we delve into the first few weeks of 2012, take the time now if you haven’t already to see how your company can better its online reputation over the next 12 months.