"Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance. "
- Thomas Carlyle
The term Online Reputation Management is often used for big, established brands, but today, thanks to increased accessibility to smartphones and the internet, people can quickly post their feedback and thoughts about anything. And they are not leaving small, local businesses behind.
Nowadays, customers are smarter and more aware of their options. So local business owners have to think about not just how to run their businesses but also their reputation in the online world. You might think this is hard given the time crunch they face, but managing the online reputation of a local business is more important now than ever.
With the right, consistent efforts, a business can gain great reputation among its customers.
Here are 9 Online Reputation Management tips for local businesses that will show you how :
Increase Your Online Visibility
Leveraging your online presence means that you must create social media profiles and build on it. Work on your web presence and create different types of rankable content regularly on different platforms for your target audience. This will help in more reach, engagement and brand awareness. The biggest source of negative reviews is the mismatch between the expectation a brand creates and the reality. So focus on providing a great online experience to the customers and try to match it to expectations you have created to get positive reviews.
Screen Your Local Business
Set up screening with Google for your name and that of your local business. This way, anytime someone posts about you or your business or mentions it, you will be alerted by Google. Getting notified earlier will help you plan a response and launch a control system at the earliest. If anyone has posted something positive or negative, you’ll be able to respond right away.
In Online Reputation Management, blogging is vital. This is because blogging regularly enables you to show the aptitude and thought leadership in your field. Good, accurate content along with Search Engine Optimization is the key to drive online traffic and a possibility of ranking higher in Google’s search engine results page.
Listen To Your Customers
For local businesses, it is imperative to take feedback and interact with your customers. Be active and interact with them on all the social media platforms that your brand has a presence on. If there are any negative complaints, then remember that there might be a legitimate reason behind it. So do not dismiss or ignore any complaints and feedback – respond to them in a professional manner immediately. This way, your customers will know that you’re genuinely interested in solving their problems.
Focus On Social Media Accounts
Update and monitor all your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be active on knowledge sharing platforms like Quora. These are great for gathering organic traffic. If you consistently post relevant content on all social media, then you will grow your impact, increase customer engagement and have the chance to find and interact with present and potential customers.
Avoid Online Arguments
Engaging in online arguments with your customers will only make you look highly unprofessional and this may have a long-term negative impact on the reputation of your local business. In case of any customer complaints, the best approach is to stay away from any online arguments, take the discussion offline with the end goal to fix the issue. Remember to apologize and own up to your mistakes.
Have A Flawless Website
Your website is the face of your business so make sure it is user-friendly, navigable and accessible on all devices. The first thing potential customers do is to check out your website, so make sure it is flawless and secure. Having a great website which checks all these boxes will actually boost your search engine ranking and help give your local business a positive online reputation.
Promote Positive Reviews
Did you know that you can turn those negative reviews into positive ones? Yes, you can. All you have to do is resolve the customer’s issue offline via e-mail and see that the problem is completely solved. Don’t commit, make promises and then forget. This is a common mistake a lot of local business owners make due to lack of time or commitment towards their customers, but make sure to spend ample time on customer complaints and fixing the cause so that they feel cared for. Eventually, this will lead to customer loyalty and trust. Also, encourage your happy customers to post their positive feedback online so that it dilutes the effect of negative reviews. Finally, promote the positive feedback.
Focus On Superior Products and Best Customer Service
Customers mostly leave online reviews based on three main things – quality, performance and customer service. So focus all your time, energy and resources on having superior quality products and the best customer service. Try to maintain this standard so that you get lesser negative reviews and more satisfied, happy customers.