In today’s digital world, companies and individuals alike can’t afford to ignore their online reputation. With so many online review and social media outlets that aggregate comments about businesses, the consequences of not monitoring your business’s reputation could mean losing future opportunities.
No one knows the importance of a business’ reputation more than Jeff Hecht, chief development officer for Abnormal Advertising. As a long-time Phoenix public relations professional, Hecht said:
“The most important thing that a small business owner can do to maintain a positive online reputation is to monitor any mentions of themselves or their business to be aware of what information is being disseminated.”
Unfortunately, no one is immune to criticism online, and the first step to controlling the conversation is being aware that the discussion is happening. After all, if you aren’t monitoring your own social media, how will you know when negative feedback is knocking on your door?
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Tony Felice, founder the Felice Agency in Phoenix said:
“No business is immune to the cloak of anonymity that the Internet can provide for those with an axe to grind or out to draw blood, regardless of the validity of their claims. And the first line of defense is a robust monitoring method.”
According to a Domain.ME research study by Wakefield, 61 percent of Americans believe that a social media profile can tell you more about a person than a resume. What might this mean for you or your business’ online profile?
Tools to Monitor Your Reputation
Tony also suggests monitoring social media sites for mentions of you or your company. And if you do receive an alert that needs to be addressed, make sure to respond quickly.
“From checking Facebook notifications daily, to receiving notices from Yelp, it is important for retail and service businesses to respond quickly and openly to customer complaints, irrespective of how legitimate you feel the person’s claims are,” Tony said.
In the same study, 83 percent of respondents who have been impacted by negative feedback actively monitor their reputation online. Our experts suggest to simply start monitoring your reputation by signing up for Google Alerts.
How to Respond
At some point, there will be a negative comment or feedback about your brand. So what do you do? Sure, it’s easy to get fired up and defend your reputation with venom and vigor, but that could end up being the worst thing to do.
“You must take swift and humble action in a formal open setting to mitigate negative comments while at the same time establishing goodwill with your current and prospective clients,” Tony said.
As for the trolls that have an aggressive agenda, it’s important to respond professionally and not to over-engage.
“Trolls can shut a business down if you let them run rampant. It's best for businesses to respond to each review with the same kindness and appreciation so when trolls do emerge it's clear that's who they are and what they intend,” Tony said.
If you do need to defend your reputation, make sure to stick to the facts.
“Trolls are unique in that their sole purpose of posting is to damage your reputation. It's important to not to over-engage them,” Jeff said. “State your case and counter the troll's misinformation, but don't become a prisoner in a conversation with a person who's only sole purpose in that conversation is to damage you publicly.”
Preventative Care of Your Reputation
The consequences of not monitoring your online reputation can be anywhere from a slight inconvenience to death of a brand, Jeff said. It’s important to get some preventative measures in place so you can maintain control of the conversation.
“Losing control of your own reputation has caused many otherwise successful businesses to fail, and in many cases, this could be easily avoided with simple monitoring and counter-messaging,” Jeff said.
In the same study, 31 percent of respondents either created online content, purchased domain addresses that contained their name or requested endorsements to boost their online reputation. According to our experts, keeping a constant positive conversation going about your brand can do a lot of good.
“Nothing beats great authentic content and publicity,” Tony said. “YouTube videos, heavily viewed and shared content, well written blog posts – all of these things can push down negative reviews or comments on search rankings. It's important to establish positive goodwill 365 days a year.”
No matter what happens, maintain your integrity when managing your online reputation. Gregg Ostro, CEO of Go Media and Integrity Business, said,
“Do good, do right, and look online about yourself. Always operate with integrity. It's the best prevention and defense against negative forces, and the best secret sauce for an enduring good image.”
Read more advice on managing your online reputation at TechCo
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