In the business world your reputation is everything. One bad review can ruin years of positive profile building. That’s why reputation management is an important component of your business plan.
We all recognize that the internet has been a boon for businesses – that’s where more than 60% of your customers will find you. The flip side is that the internet can just as quickly turn the tables on you, resulting in your good standing being dismantled in the blink of an eye!
So how do you manage your online presence? How can you, as a business owner, be proactive? And what are the best practice guidelines that you need to know about online reputation management?
Well here are 7 best practice guidelines for managing your online profile:
- Own your brand name: Building your business is difficult when you don’t have a brand name and a website to match. Think of Ebay.com and Pepsi.com – what if Pepsi’s web site was called softdrink.com or Ebay’s was known as shoppingplace.com?
Trivial examples I know, but the point is that your web presence needs to be your brand name or else you become lost in the backwaters of Google. Domain names cost little to register and will make all the difference to your web presence. There are many places to search for domain names, for example: names.co.uk, 123-reg.co.uk or godaddy.com.
- Optimize your site: Make sure that when a customer searches for you online that Google finds your website! One way to do this is to use the name of your brand as a keyword and make sure that it is prominently displayed in the title tag and URL – and throughout your web content as well.
- Have great web content: Your website needs to be professional. It needs to provide your customers with a reason to buy online or to visit your premises. Great content is about keeping your customer on your website and giving them reason to act – to buy your product or service, go to your shop or restaurant or subscribe to your newsletter.
Give them a great website with clear, simple descriptions of your products and if you are in the food or drink industry give them mouth-watering images.
Why should they buy from you? Why should they come to your restaurant? Answer these questions and you will build the reputation of a professional, stream-lined and popular business.
- Join social networks: Depending on your business there are a number of good choices of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. If you haven’t the time to be active on these sites you can employ a trusted employee or outsource to a company specializing in social media and public relations.
- Google yourself: Be proactive and stay on top of your brand name by performing a search for your business name in Google and any images of your business in Google Images. You can also keep track of any new online content about your business by using Google Alerts where you can be sent a daily, weekly or monthly report of online activity concerning your business.
- Manage unhappy customers: Communication, public relations and vigilance are the key to managing your customers. If you receive or are notified of a customer complaint, address it immediately and apologize. Do not ignore negative comments and do let the customer know how you are addressing their concerns. It will improve your standing if you are honest and upfront about any negative complaints, as this will minimize any further damaging criticism by a disgruntled client.
- Engage a professional reputation management company: Most companies are too busy building their business, increasing their customer base and doing their best to increase their ROI to have time left for managing jobs that can be outsourced.
Think smart – if you need expert help in securing and maintaining your online reputation make sure that you select the best management firm for your business.
Managing your on and offline presence is an important component of a sound marketing plan – make note of these 7 best guidelines before your reputation is damaged.
For companies specializing in the food and drink industry you need a company that leads the field in marketing, public relations and reputation management. Your business deserves the best!
Photo Credit: Flickr/régine debatty