Online reputation management is an area of marketing that often flies under the radar, but its impact on your business is much larger than you may think. In fact, 92% of consumers read online reviews to learn more about a business before making a purchase. If you want to drive leads and convert more sales, you should start by focusing on creating a positive online image and reputation.
It takes 12 positive reviews to negate one negative review. No business is perfect and you’re bound to have unhappy customers or employees, but the voice of the few should not represent the opinion of the many.
Use the five creative strategies below to start boosting your brand’s online reputation.
Monitor your reputation so you can find problem areas
You can’t fix your online reputation if you don’t know where it’s broken. Tracking your brand mentions online can help you find problem areas with our reputation. Some easy ways to track your brand’s online reputation include:
- Set up Google Alerts for your company
- Use a tool like Hootsuite to monitor your social channels in one place
- Create IFTT Applets that are based on your brand’s mentions on industry forums or websites
- Track customer communication and disgruntled clients in your CRM
Tip: Be proactive if you know a wave of negative PR is on the way. Monitoring is a retroactive step for online reputation management, but crisis management is equally important.
Capitalize on your competitor’s mistakes
Just as you are likely to face bad publicity from time to time, so too are your competitors. An excellent way to improve your online reputation is to make strategic moves when a competitor makes a mistake.
Take, for instance, the Uber misstep with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance earlier this year. Uber angered many customers and employees by not actively supporting the taxi strike at JFK airport. As a result, Lyft seized the opportunity to take an active stance in favor of the taxi strike by donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU. This move allowed Lyft to spin Uber’s negative publicity in favor of their online reputation.
Tip: Create alerts for your competitors much like you did for your own brand. This will help you find strategic opportunities in real-time.
Turn your current employees into online ambassadors
You have an army of influencers right under your nose. Your current employees can be great resources to driving a better online reputation. Consider blocking off a time of the day for your employees to spend actively engaging others in the industry through social media, commenting on articles, and posting on blogs or forums.
Not only can your current employees help improve your online reputation, their activity on relevant platforms in your industry will help position your company as a thought-leader and active community member in your industry. This activity can deflect negative opinion and also drive more traffic and leads to your website.
Tip: Start by having your employees write content for your company blog and promoting their own content. This strategy will help grow your brand’s reputation while also giving them immediate equity into their efforts.
Improve your offline reputation
Your online reputation is an extension of your offline reputation, so taking steps to improve the former involve modifying the latter. Talk to your employees to see how they feel about the environment of your office. There are several common dangers in the office, from physical distractions to a hostile company culture, all of which help form your company’s reputation.
Finding the problems with your offline reputation is just the beginning. You may be forced to make difficult decisions in order to alter the offline reputation of your company. But, these are necessary changes if you want to improve your online reputation.
Tip: Develop a safe communication channel for employees to voice their opinion anonymously and encourage frequent feedback from all departments.
Get as many reviews as you can
We’ve saved the best for last. Online reviews are the most important way to affect your online reputation. It’s unfortunate, but happy customers and employees rarely write positive reviews–but you can bet that a disgruntled client or employee will smear your company’s name any opportunity they can get.
It’s important to encourage all your employees and customers to write reviews online. You should have more positive clients than negative, so the bad reviews will get diluted by the several happy, satisfying experiences. You need to make it easy for people to review your business: provide links to the popular review sites like Google Plus, Facebook, and Glassdoor on your website. Take the initiative to personally encourage reviews by asking for them after a transaction or offering a reward for people who take the time to submit feedback.
Tip: You need to acknowledge and respond to every one of your reviews. Positive reviews should receive a sincere note, thanking that person for taking the time. Negative reviews should receive a carefully thought-out and honest response. Remember, everyone can see your response–so don’t damage your reputation with a short-sighted rebuttal. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the worst thing you can do to your reputation is not appreciate the opinion and feedback of someone about your company.
Businesses that are not actively monitoring and improving their online reputation are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow their brand and increase their sales. Your company’s online reputation doesn’t just affect your customers, it can keep great employees from joining your team. The five tips above are a great way to get your online reputation on the right track.