Manage your online reputation – 5 tips!

Brand Reputation

Whether you know it or not, your brand has an online reputation. It could be good, bad, or just easily overlooked. It is important, however, that you are aware of it and take necessary steps to manage it. As Richard Branson puts it, "Your brand is only as good as your reputation."

Here are 5 reputation management tips that you can start today to help keep your brand in a positive light.

Claim and manage your social media accounts

When doing a search for your company or brand name, it is nice to have some control of what comes up on the search results. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure that you have an account for your business on social media websites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Add custom graphics, fill out all of the descriptive fields about your products and services and make sure that they all link to your website. Post content on a schedule that works best for you and this will greatly increase the odds of these pages that you control showing up on page one of the search results page.

Claim and monitor local directory listings

Besides social media sites, local directories can dominate search result pages and most of these directories allow for ratings and reviews of businesses. Follow this link to see a comprehensive list of directories. If you don't have the time yet for the complete list, here are just a few of the more important listings that you will want to claim:

  • Yelp
  • Google Places
  • Bing Local
  • Yahoo Local Listings
  • Merchant Circle

By claiming these listings, you control which graphics show up for your brand. You also can choose which category your business should be listed under, add your hours, provide a description of your business and also link back to your website.

Monitor these listings for negative reviews. If you find them, you can respond as the business owner and try to resolve customers' issues, sometimes even prompting them to remove or change the reviews after resolving their problems.

Provide customers with a place to complain to you directly and not on the Web

Being proactive is a great way to manage your businesses reputation. Instead of waiting for negative reviews to show up on directories review sites, and social media, why not provide a system that can control the feedback.

One way to do this is to do follow up phone calls with customers within 24-48 hours of a purchase or provided service. This way you can address complaints on the spot and have the opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive. If you have a restaurant or retail establishment and follow up phone calls are not realistic you're your business, comment cards are a great way to hear about a complaint before it is posted online. Also, if you have a particularly happy customer, you could ask for a testimonial to put on your website.

Learn from the bad

What many companies fail to do is learn from the negative feedback. If there is a consistent theme to the complaints, then something needs to change. The customers are giving feedback on what needs to be fixed and what can be done to keep them happy.

Monitor online activity

The easiest way to monitor mentions of your brand online is to monitor mentions of your company's name or specific branded products or services. An easy way to do this is with a free tool provided from Google known as Google Alerts.

You can set up a search query choose from what kind of results you want to receive. The results you can choose include news, blogs, videos, discussions, books and all of the result types together. You can also choose how often you want to be alerted.

It may take a little tweaking to get the best settings for accurate results, but this is a great free resource to help you keep on top of what people are saying about your brand online.

Negative reviews and complaints happen. You can't please everyone, and it does seem that people are quicker to leave a negative review online than they are to leave a positive one. I also am suspicious of companies that only have positive 5 star reviews online. I suspect that these businesses are buying reviews or creating fake reviews.

Following these tips will help you to better respond to negative feedback, lead to better reviews, and help your business rank better in local search results.

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