Jane’s Marketing Tips: Online Reputation Management

Since the birth of the Internet and social media, managing your reputation as a business has radically changed. With online directories, social media outlets, and blogs, anyone can say anything about your business, positive or negative.

Scan the Internet
The first (and best) thing you can do is Google yourself. Go through the first three pages of Google and see if you can find any news or comments about your business.  What is the general consensus? Are you getting positive reviews? Is your business lacking in popularity? Now, it’s time to start.

Take control
If you haven’t already, claim your business pages. The best and most widely used website for business-consumer relations and reviews is Yelp.com, and it makes it easy for you to get in touch with your customers.  Search for your business, and look for this box (pictured below) on the right-hand side of your screen.

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Follow up with any negative reviews from the past few months. Try to contact the unhappy customer to resolve the issue.  At the very least, issue a response on the directory website (Yelp makes this easy). You can do this either publicly or privately.

Outside of Yelp, there’s a plethora of online directories for listing your business (for free!). Of course, you want to put your energy into updating and maintaining the best ones – like Google Places and YP.com (Yellow Pages). Make sure your hours and location are up to date, as well as having recent photos, an accurate website, phone numbers and any other vital information listed that your customers need to know.

Encourage future customers
Next, you’ll want to start soliciting positive reviews. Every time you get a happy customer, make sure to ask them to give you a review. A few great reviews go a long way in making an impression with potential customers. If you don’t feel comfortable asking in person, sending a follow-up “thank you” email with a direct link to your online directory to make it easy for customers to write a review.

Be aware of your personal brand
Remember; in the eye of your customer, there is no difference between you and your company. If you are the owner of your company, you want to make sure that you are representing yourself in a way that positively reflects who you are in your connection to your business. Don’t post super personal information or photos on any public venue, as it puts you and your family at risk, and leaves you open for judgment by potential customers.

Create content
If you really want to take strides towards building an online reputation, as opposed to just maintaining the one that’s already there, you can create a Facebook page, blog or website for your business.  Updating several times per month helps you to stay relevant and in contact with your clients and potential customers.

Read more advice on family business by visiting Family Biz Buzz.