You’ve got your business a solid website and setup a Facebook page. Sweet. It’s easy to think you’re now in control of your online destiny. A blog post here and there, a few posts to Facebook and your online profile is taking care of itself.
Hold that thought. Have you ever Googled yourself or your business? Truth is, most of us have. When we search for ourselves individually we might find another version of ourselves as a carpet fitter in Glasgow. That’s more common than you might think. However, search for your business and the results can be quite alarming.
While you have control of your website and Facebook page, it’s likely that you’ll find a large amount of ‘other’ information that you have no control over and haven’t contributed to. Business listings, reviews and images of your business seem to appear from nowhere.
The potential for damage can be quite daunting. Your business reputation could be at stake and it’s easy to feel like you have no control over what’s being said.
What Is Reputation Monitoring?
Your online profile can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s important that, wherever possible, your business reputation is squeaky clean.
Search engines show everything. There is nowhere to hide and you can bet that potential and existing customers will Google you to ensure they’re dealing with a reputable, respectable company. In fact, studies show 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. What your reviews say about you online can be crucial to your success.
The 7 Reasons You Need to Monitor Your Online Reputation
With everything from Facebook fake news to bad reviews, online information can change quickly — your reputation is no different.
We’ve put together 9 reasons you should keep your reputation in check. All you need to do now is hide those pre-internet photos and love letters. Let’s get started.
1. Your Online Presence is Everywhere
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Google reviews, Tripadvisor. The list could go on.
There are a ton of different platforms online for you — and your customers — to find out information about a company.
Blogs and social media give you a great platform to share positive feedback with your audience. The challenge is keeping track of your customers comments, conversations, thoughts and feelings about your business. This doesn’t mean you should hide away; it means you should embrace it.
Join in the conversation. Respond to every comment in a positive, professional way. Even the bad, downright negative, Monday morning comments from clients that may not have had a good experience. How you respond says a lot about your business and shows other clients you care. We naturally want to do business with people that care, which lead’s into….
2. Responding to Reviews is Crucial
84% of people trust an online review as much as an in-person, word of mouth recommendation. That means that your online reviews can make or break your business.
Responding to a positive recommendation, mention or even negative comment will help to improve engagement and show that you care. Responding to negative reviews, in the right way, allows you to publicly rectify situations that have the potential to spiral, in turn minimising any damage to your reputation.
3. Unknown Website Listings
There are a ton of different online directories. Yelp and Trip Advisor are some obvious ones. Perth Map is a favourite of ours but there are many others online that people don’t know about.
Some of this could be quite innocent. Perhaps your SEO agency added your business to a directory to help build backlinks. Providing the directory itself has a good reputation this is fine. We advise that you, or your agency, keep track of directories that ‘go rogue’ and whose link back to you has a negative impact on your site. These may need to be disavowed in Googles Search Console platform.
It’s also worth looking at businesses that may have been listed with the same or similar business names. Ensure you claim your business name on as many of the well-established business directories as soon as possible. Not sure which directories to hit on and which to avoid? Drop us a line and we’ll guide you.
4. Claiming Back Your Listings Can Take Time
Anybody can list your business online. Yep, anyone.
Just as we can buy our business domain names and register our business on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram anyone else can do exactly the same. A quick search for Start Digital shows:
• Start Digital
• Start Digital Publishing
• Click Start Digital
• Digital Start
And there’s nothing to stop someone from registering www.startdigitalarepoo.com. It’s available and, if someone were so inclined they could create a site that set about dismantling our little empire. Don’t get any ideas though.
In a world of catfishing, where people get impersonated, it’s not unusual for businesses to become targets, the same as individuals. The great news is, if somebody does list your business, you can take steps to reclaim control.
Whilst platforms such as Google and Facebook are excellent at rectifying this, sadly, the process isn’t instantaneous. You’ll likely need to demonstrate various forms of certification and verification. During that time you’ve got no control of what’s happening online.
You can claim back your Google listing or request ownership of an existing listing here. There are many variables in Facebook but the ‘Reporting a Violation of your Rights’ page might be the best place to start.
5. People Trust People
Online reviews are powerful. It’s clear that, as in real life, people online trust other people.
Time is quickly becoming a rare commodity and people rarely do any fact-checking — hence Donald Trump. Just putting 5 golden stars on your website can unconsciously convert a casual visitor into a client. Similarly, a negative review can be hugely damaging for your business — refer back to point 2.
We recommend social proofing your website — it’s a quick and easy way to showcase your client list and demonstrate that your business is trustworthy. Highlighting client logos, testimonials and linking to other review platforms directly from your site helps build trust.
6. Word of Mouth is Fast Moving
The ‘word of mouth’ concept has shifted in recent years. No longer reserved for street corner gossip, social media allows word of mouth and user experiences to travel at the speed of light. How many times have we seen big businesses #fail on social media and it have a massive effect on their reputation? From McDonalds to Kmart and large corporates, it’s easy to see how things can come unstuck. And we know that the internet may forgive but it never, ever forgets #screenshot.
It’s important to, firstly ensure that what you’re posting is relevant and doesn’t clash with your business ideals — not difficult right? And secondly, it’s important to keep a close eye on your social media channels. It’s not just rogue employees that can affect your posts but the comments to each post on each platform could range from inappropriate spam through to slanderous erm, slander.
7. Automation Tools = Crap Content
As time becomes the new gold we’re seeing more and more businesses rely on tools to automate their social media accounts. We’ll admit to using them ourselves for Twitter. There is a reason why we need to delete our Twitter account and start again. More and more businesses and business directories are pushing and pulling content that may seem relevant to an algorithm but has no real business relevance. Content may still be king but it needs to be authentic and relevant.
If your business uses any of these tools it’s vital that you monitor the content that’s being pushed to your accounts. We’ve been caught out more times than we care to mention by ‘smart’ automation. Social users are savvy and know when a business is automating their content which, depending on your view, can dilute your brand and reputation.
Much like real life your online reputation is difficult to keep track of. In real life however it’s easy to shrug off gossip and move on. Not so online. Whether it’s from disgruntled clients, ex-employees, dodgy competitors or spam content your business profile has the potential to come under constant attack. It’s a bit scaremongery but ignore it at your peril.
Of course, it’s not all negative. There’s the potential that you’ll discover some great insights into your business and uncover reviews that you didn’t know existed. When you do, make sure you update your website to show the world what your clients think of you and spread the word. Check out our post on how social proof works for more information.
If you want more help managing your reputation online, get in touch today.
This article originally appears on the Start Digital website.