Online reputation management involves three main activities. Each one should be part of any business’s carefully planned marketing strategy.
Creating an online branded image for your business requires your business to be visible on the Internet. Several resources, all of which are under your control, can be used to accomplish this goal: creating, maintaining and updating your company’s website, blogs and social media accounts; using syndicated articles and image portfolios; and taking advantage of business directory listings and web 2.0 sites. This activity allows you to provide your own information about your business to the search engines. Instead of allowing the people who are discussing your business to determine the search engine results, it places you in control.
- The online reputation of your business must be monitored on a daily basis. It’s essential to know what people on the web are saying about your business. Fortunately, several paid and free monitoring tools can make online reputation management much easier. They allow you to collect and organize your company’s keyword data from different online sources. By using one every day, you’ll always know what people are saying about your business, both good and bad.
- Online reputation management also involves using the monitoring results to take steps to control any negative publicity. Likewise, you can use it to draw attention to positive news about your company. This aspect of online reputation management might be the most difficult because it requires several steps:
- Reading and addressing negative reviews;
- Interacting with people who have posted negative opinions;
- Resisting the temptation to engage in an online “word fight,” instead maintaining an honest, positive position;
- Admitting your shortcomings, correcting the situation, and having the courage to apologize; and
- Thanking those who have posted positive opinions about your business, and “rewarding” them by incorporating them into your marketing content, both online and offline.
As you can see, online reputation management involves three main activities, all of which are described above. You’ll help your small business have a favorable online brand image by carrying them out.