There was a time when maintaining your reputation wasn’t so complicated. It meant that you kept a clean house, picked up after your dog, and generally behaved in ways that your neighbors found acceptable.
Then the internet was born, and your reputation was suddenly in the hands of anyone with a PC. At any moment, any misstep could be broadcast worldwide by bloggers, journalists, or everyday web users. Businesses became hyperaware of this in 2005, when Yelp relaunched its site and gave users the option to publish their reviews. It meant that one couple’s disappointing dining experience at your restaurant would be accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Your staff members have similar power and reach through sites like Glassdoor, which offers employees the opportunity to share their experiences working under your roof.
Reputation Management is a relatively new concept, but it’s one that all business owners should adopt to preserve your “rep” online. Here are some dos and don’ts to get us started:
- Keep in mind that, on average, customers will go out of their way to write a bad review – but rarely publish good ones. So include a brief message in the footer of your email blasts encouraging your loyal customers to write an honest review.
- Make it easy for your clients to locate your Yelp, Google, and social media pages by providing hyperlinked icons on your website.
- Manage your reviews regularly. Consumers post feedback in the hopes that you, the business owner, will respond accordingly. So set aside one hour each week for Reputation Management.
- Don’t offer discounts, “freebies,” or compensation for positive reviews. It’s highly unethical and defies the user guidelines of most review sites. Moreover, when you “pay” for 5-star reviews, you’re communicating to your customers that you don’t have faith in your own services. Let your work speak for itself.
- Likewise, don’t ask friends, family members, partners or staff (eek!) to pepper your pages with positive feedback. Internet users are savvy; they know a fraudulent review when they see one.
- Don’t take it personally. Even if you receive a highly emotional 1-star review, your response cannot be too defensive or dramatic. The best course of action is (1) taking a step back, (2) finding the “lesson” buried in the review, and (3) responding kindly and compassionately, even if you don’t mean it. A simple “Thanks for your feedback” goes a long way.
Most importantly, focus on providing your customers with quality goods and services. Do your best to ensure that each and every client has a positive experience. This is the key to drumming up positive feedback.
And if managing your own reputation becomes too thorny or dominates too much of your time, remember that marketing firms like Brand Poets provide comprehensive Reputation Management services to help you maintain your good name — and give it a rinse whenever it gets muddy.
### Article originally published in Community News.
About Brand Poets Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, visual storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention.