With more consumers relying on the Internet to shop for products and services, a business’s reputation is vital for success. Time to get serious about online reputation management.
According to NewMediaTrendWatch.com, the average American will spend 30 hours online every week, and for “Millennials”, that number rises to 40 hours – frankly, I’m bugged-eyed just thinking about it! Amazingly, about half of Internet surfers interact with businesses on their social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, reports Folio Magazine.
If your business does not have a strong online presence, and favorable online customer reviews, you may find yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Whether your business has negative online reviews or simply doesn’t have much of a Web presence, doing nothing can impact your sales without you even knowing it.
So, knowing and controlling your online reputation is the most effective way to keep your opportunity costs down.
Know your online reputation
For a starters, you have to find out what people are saying about you. Searching through the Internet for items related to your business can be frustrating and time consuming. Fortunately, there are ways to automate the process.
Enter Google Alerts. This free service does all the leg work, keeping you abreast of anything related to your specific keyword phrases. Monitor your Internet reputation, and that of your competition, without spending a lot of time doing it by hand. Create alerts for your business name, employee names, etc. and learn something about your online reputation.
Want more? There are many other local social media monitoring services out there. Take a look around the web and see what fits your specific needs.
You know your online reputation, now control it!
Once you have a handle on your online reputation, you may find there is not much out there about you. Now is the time to act!
First, be your own online reputation manager. Establish a system for encouraging your customers to give you positive reviews. Whether this means collecting comments on paper customer surveys, or subscribing to a reputation management system, having those positive online reviews is a must.
Next, get involved in the conversation. Establish a presence on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise by writing a blog and commenting on other people’s blogs with a link back to yours.
Finally, let your customers know if you are mentioned on the Web or have contributed something you are proud of. By establishing yourself as an authority and starting a dialogue with customers and prospects, they will feel more compelled to support your business.
If this is all too time consuming, consider hiring professional Internet marketing consultants to take the reins and manage your reputation for you. But the worst thing you can do is nothing.