Online reputation management (ORM) has become an integral tool for many businesses’ digital marketing strategy in the last few years, especially for small and young businesses. Most digital marketing focuses on ensuring that a brand is exposed to as many people as possible, however ORM ensures that said exposure is positive.
Simply said, having a thousand blog posts about your business is only a good thing if those blog posts are saying nice things. Have you ever heard of the expression that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’? Well, this doesn’t really apply to small businesses with thousands of 1 star on review websites.
So how does online reputation management work for small businesses and what can you do to ensure your business has thousands of 4+ stars on review websites? Here are six steps you can follow through to make sure you maximize the benefits of online reputation management to boost your business.
1. Respond to Negative Feedback First
The key thing to remember when managing your reputation online, is that you should not avoid responding to negative feedback.
Instead, you should focus on responding to customer feedback and tackling it head on. Start with the negative ones — they need to be tackled first before they drive away your customers. Address the reviewer, thank them for their feedback, apologize and empathize.
2. Encourage Positive Feedback
Generally, people are more likely to leave negative reviews/comments than positive ones. Therefore, your aim should include asking the people who have a good experience to consider leaving a review. This way you can ensure that the feedback for your brand is more measured and balanced.
A great thing about being a small business is that you likely will get the chance to interact with many of your customers in person. As such, it is your greatest opportunity to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
3. Monitor Social Mentions
Very often your brand name may come up in discussions on forums or in form of tags on social media platforms, which is also a great opportunity for you, as a small business, to expand your reach. If it’s a positive mention done by social media influencer, you are in the best luck. Generally, the power of social media influencers should not be underestimated — they are oftentimes a driving force for selling products, and can help in increasing engagement rates and can help bring attention to your products or services.
4. Local Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important tool for online reputation management, especially for a small business. The key here is to ensure that your website is what comes up first when people search for your brand.
Local SEO gives you the opportunity to provide potential customers searching regionally with even more targeted, relevant information as well as helps you achieve better search engine rankings. How does it benefit you? — more coverage in your local region, higher web traffic, higher sales, long-term competitiveness.
5. Create Positive Buzz
Another aspect of reputation management for small businesses is simply creating a positive buzz around your business. If you can create enough positivity around your brand then potentially you can ‘drown out’ anything negative and thereby ensure that you’re seen in a positive light overall. This can be achieved by combining it with SEO, press releases and social media marketing, which will not only help you establish a trustworthy image for your brand, but it will also increase your search ranking.
Finally, you also need to ensure that you are transparent in your communication with your customers and fans. It’s about providing consumers with details — and authenticity. As a company, you must help the customer understand exactly what your brand means for you and also for them. Being transparent about the ins and outs of your business will only help you in the long haul.