What exactly is your online reputation & why it MATTERS
With the continued growth of social networks, the online reputation of businesses are being increasingly scrutinized by their current and potential customers. Maintaining a good online reputation has never been more paramount to business success. It’s also never been trickier to get right.
A strong online reputation can make all the difference to a business’s success. It can ensure you keep repeat customers, gain new customers, increase your digital footprint, build your brand awareness, help you stand out in your industry and ultimately affect revenue. So, getting your head around online reputation management is the business of every business owner.
What is your online reputation?
Your online reputation is essentially the level of standing of your business’s online presence. It includes how your brand is perceived by internet users, whether that’s in a negative or positive light.
Your online reputation is influenced by past experiences of your customers, anything you share online, how you run your social media pages, the traditional media you use, any positive reviews or negative reviews you receive, how others talk about you, your business’s ranking in search engines… you get the picture. Pretty much everything you say or do can influence how people perceive your brand and shape your online reputation.
This isn’t out of your control, however. Every company and business is able to manage their online reputation, but in the digital age, it’s easier said than done.
What is online reputation management?
Improving and enhancing how a company’s reputation is perceived is what online reputation management (ORM) is all about. You can do it in-house or hire an outside contractor to do it. With 34% of customers preferring businesses with positive feedback and reviews, reputation management has become a key part of business strategy.
Some companies have lost their profitability due to social media horror stories of the past several years. A huge business has developed around branding management as a result.
Managing your online reputation (ORM) means gaining control of the conversation online. You can use its techniques and strategies to ensure that people find the right materials and content on the web when they search for you. Online reputation management is designed to keep you on top of misleading trends, create balance, and help you put your best foot forward.
Why management of your online reputations is important
Online reputation managers have always been essential in our opinion. The online reputation of a brand, as expressed in their online reviews, social media accounts, and brand sentiments in online conversations between potential and past customers, can have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions.
You can lose a significant amount of future business because of ineffective online reviews management. People are increasingly interacting and viewing your brand online, where negative comments in negative reviews are publicly visible.
We all need to be aware of the power that customer feedback has over our online reputation, and there’s nothing better than getting positive reviews that make us smile and keep us working hard.
A sharp shift in public perception and consumer condemnations can befall any industry. Retailers see sales plummet when customer information is stolen as a result of cyber-attacks, while tech firms have been criticised for not eliminating exploitation in supply chains. Financial institutions have also been criticized for manipulating markets. What will you do differently?
5 reasons why you should monitor your online reputation
There are a range of specific reasons that you should ensure you monitor your online reputation. It can be the deciding factor in many aspects of your business.
Good reviews affect SEO rankings
For one, the Google reviews that you get online affect the SEO rankings of your business website. If you want to show up at the top of Google results, it’s in your best interest to keep bad reviews to a minimum.
A good SEO ranking ensures you keep potential customers flowing to your website and therefore directly influences your future lead generation and sales. Hot tip, never doubt that a customer will leave a review.
There are a range of review sites for them to head to and most people are keen to post about an overly negative or positive experience. Either that, or they’ll go and tell all their friends!
It improves customer experience
Improving online reputation goes hand in hand with improving the customer experience. Investing in a professional and streamline website gives you a professional online presence, while making things easier for your customers to navigate.
Not only are they left with positive memories of the experience but lead generation and sales can be sped up in the process. It pays to invest in streamlining your internet services and operations.
It increases sales
Most consumers will always look for reviews before they buy anything. How many times have you used Google search engines to look at a business’s rating out of 5 and read up on some reviews before deciding on where to go out to eat.
Reviews are a useful tool for your customers and shouldn’t be viewed as a negative. They’re actually an opportunity to stand out amongst the rest and boost sales. Just as negative reviews turn us off a business, positive reviews as part of a good online reputation will bring customers in!
It increases credibility
Strong online reputations definitely increase your business’s credibility. People are more likely to take businesses with a good online reputation more seriously in the online world. Credibility is important in the digital world, especially on social media.
You need your customers to listen to what your company has to say and take your services and products seriously. If they don’t think of you as a professional, then you’ll lose the influence you have, and they’ll respond by giving you less of their money.
It gives your business insights
Not all negative reviews are bad reviews. It depends how a company or business looks at them. Internet users can give you constructive feedback in their reviews and social media opinions.
Those comments on your social media posts or that Google review that spoke about how the food was cold? All of that is important to listen to. It can help you understand what isn’t operating as it should in your business and refine things for a better customer experience and more streamline operation.
Likewise, positive reviews can give a business insight into what it’s doing well. As we’ve mentioned, clients are as keen to share a positive review as they are a negative one.
5 practices for maintaining positive online reputation
If you’re a company or business trying to maintain a positive online reputation, you’ll know that it can be hard. There’s a lot to think about, as we’ve just covered. You are trying to juggle being the first result on a search engine while uploading positive content frequently online.
One minute you’re trying to deal with the comments section of your social media accounts and the next you need to respond to a customer’s negative opinion of your food in Google reviews. There are ways you can make it all a lot easier, however. Here are our top 5 practices for positive online reputation management.
Address criticism in online reviews
If you post a comment on social networks you will likely face criticism. The way you react can help you improve your company’s reputation. Don’t shy away from criticism, as many do. Yes, it can be hard to hear and can instil a fear in us that our current online reputation is so poor that there’s nothing we can do to save it.
Take a deep breath and read what they have to say. Then, as politely and understandingly as possible, respond to their comments. The fact you’ve taken the time to respond will only bolster your online reputation, as others will see your response and take it into consideration when making a decision.
React quickly and politically
Generally, a business can know what’s being said before their customer base. This gives you a lot of control in how you respond to an escalating issue and over how big it grows.
If you hear on the grape vine that someone had an issue with your service on a particular day, or if there was a certain incident an employee didn’t deal with too well, then bring it up early on. Own up to it, apologise, and say you’ll do better. This shows customers that you are able to reflect. It’s funny, what customers generally look for in a business is what they look for in other people.
Companies that are respected can take more of a beating. Gaining the respect of your customers online requires a multifaceted approach. It’s not just about posting positive content or getting high up in search results on your favourite search engines. Respect is built through the way you treat others.
That means be kind to customers and other businesses. Show them the respect you want them to show you. Another way to gain respect is through your business actions and endeavours. A philanthropic business is likely to gain more respect from the wider public for giving back to the community.
Consider where you might be able to help out. The added benefit is that you’ll feel better for it!
Treat Your Google Page 1 Like Your Business Card
A first impression counts because people often judge books by their cover. The search results page is your cover, and your online reputation depends on it, any online reputation management company will say so.
Positive online reputation is built by customers seeing your business at the top of the results with a high number of stars and positive comments in each online review. If you’re not sure how the front cover of your business looks, jump onto a search engine and search your own business.
Consider what the customer sees when they go searching for you, and how that might influence their decision to pay for your services or products. A bit of a clean up might be in order.
Understand your detractors
Every company or business has their detractors. To ignore them and think that your service or product is perfect in every way is shooting yourself in the foot. Your brand can improve with the right process.
Owning your detractors online and doing something about them doesn’t go unnoticed. Your digital reputation will actually get stronger as customers witness you take action. They’ll likely share their opinions with those close to them and it can lead to a wildfire of positive support for your self reflection and business growth.
It’s the wild internet
The internet is a wild place where anyone has the freedom and ability to express their opinions on your brand. We can quickly and easily communicate our experiences and they can spread like wildfire having either an extremely positive or detrimental impact on your brand. Establishing an online reputation strategy is imperative to ensuring your experience is with the former.
Ready to nail your online reputation management?
Awesome. As we’ve acknowledged, online reputation management can seem overwhelming and daunting, with lots to consider and lots to do. It’s definitely not just about improving your placing in positive search results. Building a positive online reputation takes work and a solid investment of time, energy and often money.
However, a business will often find that a good reputation pays for itself. If your online reputation is solid, you’ll be drawing in more customers than your competitors and making more sales. In addition, a good reputation generally means you’re doing something right in how you treat your customers, the products you’re selling, and how you operate as a business… that’s worth feeling good about!
The experts in reputation management strategy
From developing a solid strategy to understanding the best ways to maintain and build your online reputation, our experts are here with premium online reputation management services to help you stay in the limelight. Better yet, First Page New Zealand has the expertise and experience to take your brand image to the next level.