If you think your online reputation stops with what can be seen on review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Google Business, you're wrong. While these play a big role in what people see about you, it goes far beyond that.
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Use Monitoring Tools to Find Mentions of Your Brand
You can't Google your company 24/7, but there are tools out there that can "listen" online for mentions of your brand, products, and services. These are good to invest in, so you can be proactive about your reputation.
Tools like Trackur, Reputology, and Reputation.com, allow you to track brand mentions online. If you are on a tight budget, there are also a number of free tools you can use.
Google Alerts offers a free way to find out whenever another website mentions your brand, product, or service. You can choose between daily alerts, or alerts as they happen. You'll get an email each time something that matches your alert is indexed, and you can visit the site to see the full mention.
Twitter searches can help you with your customer service and brand monitoring. Simply enter your brand in the search box. Then, choose "More Options." Select what you want to appear in the search, and then save the search. In the advanced search section, you can use the searches to keep track of any tweets to you, or to your competition, to keep an eye on your reputation.
If This Then That (IFTTT) is a simple automation tool. You can use it to automate your online reputation management by creating a variety of "recipes" such as:
- If mentioned on Twitter, email X.
- If mentioned on Facebook, email X.
Complaint Site Search offers the ability to search more than 40 complaint websites at once. Just because you search your company in Google and don't see the complaints on the first page, doesn't mean they don't exist. Save time and get right to the point with this search engine. You may need to spend some time claiming accounts and business listings when you get started, but this will make it easier for ongoing management in the future.
Making User Reviews Work for You
User reviews are always a tough situation. You don't want all your reviews to be glowing because it could signal to others that the reviews are fake. Everyone knows it is impossible to keep 100% of people happy 100% of the time. So, those negative reviews can actually do you some good.
The key lies in how you respond to those negative reviews. Taking the time to acknowledge the person and their issue, and extend an olive branch. Provide an email address and/or phone number and invite the person to connect with you off the review site, to offer a solution. When future viewers see the negative review, they're less likely to be affected by it, because they see that you've taken initiative to respond and make it right with the customer.
Assume Nothing You Say or Do Online is Really Private
Despite a large number of privacy settings on nearly every online platform, it is never safe to assume that anything you put online will ever remain private. As such, it is important to pay close attention to the words you use in all of your communication. Make sure your photo and video content is treated with the same respect.
All employees within your company, especially those who are always in the limelight and strongly attached to your brand image, abide by rules of good online conduct. Even "private" conversations can be screenshot and posted in other places online. Even though you can remove content, it never really goes away completely. Even with the best security, hackers can still sometimes get through, and we all know what happened when hackers released the names of many Ashley Madison account holders.
Don't Engage in Arguments Online
With all the global hot-button issues at the forefront today, it's easy to come across something online you don't agree with. And social media not only gives you the platform to share your thoughts and feelings on the issues, it gives you the means to interact with others who may or may not agree with you.
This means you'll see things that could potentially make your blood boil, and no matter how much you want to reply and engage in a debate with others, it's not the smartest way to handle the situation. Remember what happened to Amy's Baking Company? Arguing with and insulting their customers on Facebook threads? (That link is further proof that nothing ever disappears from the Internet.)
Take Your Time - The Investment's Worth It
While it can be tempting to rush through handling your online reputation, take you from time. The time you spend monitoring and actively focusing on your reputation is an investment in your business.
If you find yourself struggling to properly handle your online reputation management on your own, there are plenty of services out there that will assist you. However, it's important to assess each of them, paying close attention to each company's reputation. If they have a bad wrap, how can you expect them to manage yours?