Modern businesses must focus on marketing and managing their online reputation, but it is something they often overlook. In fact, they regularly come to specialists for reputation repair, by which point a lot of damage has already been done. Instead, they should focus on being proactive and manage their reputation from the word go.
How Business Reputations Have Changed
Not too long ago, people could either shop in local brick and mortar stores and accept what was there, or use postal catalogues to order from further afield. Reputation, even then, mattered. However, managing it was down to creating positive word of mouth advertisements. If there was a complaint, it would be handled face to face, and nobody else would be aware of it. This feels like a million miles from where we are now.
Today, both commerce and communication is done online, and all of this is completely open. Someone in California could share their opinion about a business with someone in Shanghai in an instant, and they do. Through social media, forums, and blogs, people tell the world what they think of businesses and complaints are no longer private. Unfortunately, this means those complaints also start to influence others.
Improve Your Reputation through Marketing
Just a few years ago, the big buzzword was SEO (search engine optimization). This is still hugely important, but it now links in closely with reputation management as well. SEO used to be about taking up the top results in Google for a business name. Today, it is about taking up the top results in Google for something positive about the business name. This can be done through a variety of ways, including:
- Press releases.
- Polls on social media.
- Requesting reviews.
These things all increase your visibility, and they also enable you to gauge what the general public thinks about you. If a problem does arise through these methods, you will be able to address it directly. While this is in plain view, it also means others can see that you are doing your best.
Keeping Reputation Management Going
The big mistake companies make is to be reactive once their reputation is damaged, as well as to not continue to be proactive once the problem has been resolved. You must, at all times, be fully aware of what is being said about you online, good and bad. This gives you an opportunity to highlight the good, and to respond to the bad. It is generally impossible to change a one star review to a five star review, but you can make people forget that someone gave you just one star by showing professionalism and trying to resolve problems.
You can no longer rely on word of mouth advertisement to promote your business. You must be fully aware of the fact that people can – and will – talk about you online. And people tend to talk the loudest when they are unhappy, which is exactly why this is something you need to monitor as standard.