Is Your Company’s Online Reputation What It Should Be?
In a day and age when it seems just about everyone is online in some capacity, it does not take much for one’s professional business to be turned upside down by a negative comment or two. In fact, it can be downright disastrous if not properly addressed.
For the business owner, be they a large business or a little mom and pop shop, their company’s brand and online reputation are two of their most important facets.
Without a desirable brand, it can be a quick turnaround between starting out and closing shop. Minus a positive online reputation, having one’s business suffer temporarily or permanently can definitely be hastened.
So, how does your business react when negative publicity reaches the online world, potentially creating a public relations nightmare?
Whether hiring an online reputation management specialist or doing the work in-house to clean up the mess, how can a business go from a negative spotlight to a positive one in a relatively short amount of time?
Some of the ways to do this include:
1. Determine the damage – First and foremost, decide if the damage is minimal, potentially a problem, or a substantial mess. Each case will need to be judged on its own merits, so do not try and tie all cases in together. If the reputation matter involves something said about your company by a customer, current or former employee or rival, are the comments valid first of all or totally off base? Also determine if the comments have potential to reach a large audience or can be relatively confined. Lastly, could your company’s online reputation totally ignore the comments without suffering much customer damage? If so, weigh the merits of spending the time and money responding to them;
2. Combat negativity with a positive approach – As an example, say a customer was unhappy with your product and/or service and turned to the Internet to voice their displeasure with your company. Whether you fight the problem yourself or hire one of the online reputation companies out there, the goal is to go positive. Have you been blogging and/or putting out press releases about your business on a regular basis? If the answer is no, you need to quickly and correctly come up with positive content about your company. The goal here is to get the positive content out on the Internet, allowing it to rise up in search engines, supplanting the negative buzz. While you should already be blogging relevant and timely content to begin with, it becomes even more important when negative remarks show up online;
3. Remind your customers to be your greatest ambassadors – Your greatest asset as a business owner is and always will be your customers. Yes, you will get some customers over time that will not like your products and/or services for whatever reason. That being said, the majority of your customers who view your business in a favorable way are your best public relations team. Let them spread the good word about your business not only through traditional means, but also via online forums, websites, chat rooms and more. As the positive comments flood the Internet, they also help to suppress those negative remarks that are potentially bringing you trouble;
4. Go the guest blogging route – If you have not already been guest blogging, what are you waiting for? Guest blogging serves several purposes for business owners, most notably the opportunity to expand their customer base. Look for blogs that would be receptive to you writing about things of interest in your industry, etc. Not only do you open the possibility of gaining new customers, but you also can zero in on select keywords and links to drive traffic back to your respective landing pages. When you let others guest blog on your business site, it also helps bring traffic to your site, through promotion in social media venues and more. Again, spreading the positive word about your business helps to knock down any negative comments and/or reviews that are out there with the potential to cause your business and wallet harm.
As a business owner, never lose sight of the fact that your brand and its reputation should never be taken lightly, meaning online reputation management is crucial to your success.
In the event they are, your company’s reputation may never fully recover.
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