The birth of Information Technology and the revolutionary social media platforms have had an impact on more or less every aspect of human life. Many companies aligned their strategies along the lines of the changing corporate landscape triggered by information technology. The new digital platforms allowed businesses to reach broader markets with more precise targeting in a much more cost-effective manner.
The 21st century digital revolution was both dynamic and rapid. Within months, businesses across the globe realized how they need to have an online presence. From multi-million dollar conglomerates to a small localized café, every business made sure to have a Facebook page.
Businesses used these platforms effectively to target them based on their tastes, preference and other profile parameters thanks to the advanced AI tools. They used social media to engage with their customers and develop a more personalized communication medium, which was barely possible with other conventional media.
Digital media turned out to be a game changer for the business world and marketing in particular. However, with all the great things that digital media had to offer to the businesses, it had its fair share of weaknesses too. As the social media literacy increased among the masses, companies began to realize how volatile and risky social media can be for a business. There is a reason why online reputation management bloomed into a fully-fledged industry and is now worth US$5 million.
The internet and social media have proved the power by triggering political revolutions and pulling down the most stringent power regimes within weeks. This means that an irked customer who is a social media user can be one of the worst nightmares for a brand.
Reputation and PR for businesses today are of the most challenging aspect of the company. Although larger firms have the resources to invest in specialist resources that can take care of their brand’s online reputation monitoring and management, small businesses often have to struggle in this area. Smaller companies are much more vulnerable to reputation mismanagement in the cyber world.
For example, an annoyed customer who did not like how the pizza tasted at a pizza joint would leave a negative review at a food blog or a food group on Facebook. Larger businesses somehow do manage to get away with such situations, but smaller companies can suffer massive losses due to even the most minor opinion on social media.
No matter how well prepared you are to manage your business reputation online, as a small business, it is always wiser to stay prudent and prepare a contingency plan for a situation where you need some damage control. If you are a victim of bad online reputation, there as still a few ways in which you can get back on the track.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Many small businesses undermine the power of SEO and engaging content. If your customer is craving for a pizza and is looking for the best pizza joint in town, he is most likely to Google “Best pizza joint in Houston” or “Top 5 pizza joints near me” However, Google will throw a hundred thousand search results to his query. The customer will not bother to look past the top 5 or 6 results.
Those top results are your place to be. The problem with online reputation is that the taste of your pizza alone cannot help you get the top spot on Google. Google cannot taste pizzas, but it can evaluate content. You need to have a content strategy that is not only engaging and relevant to your customer but is also search engine friendly at the same time. Content is said to be the King in the world of digital marketing.
By using effective content strategy and SEO tools, you can promote positive content regarding your business to overshadow the negative attention that it has been getting.
2. Seek Google’s Assistance
One of the worst thing that can happen in the digital world is a blog post or a webpage going up with defamatory content about your business. This is a complicated situation to deal with it. Fortunately, Google has specific page removal policies, and if you feel that a webpage is trying to insult, defame or degrade your business reputation, you can ask Google to take the page down. Similarly, you can report Facebook pages and Twitter and Instagram profiles that are tarnishing your brand image on purpose.
3. Manage Your Facebook Page
Facebook is the world’s leading social media platform at the moment and can do wonders for your business. If you do not have a business page on Facebook, you should create one right away. Your Facebook page will not only allow you to personalize customer relationships but will also give you critical insights into your customer’s response towards your brand.
Your Facebook page can be an essential tool to reach out to irked customers, respond to defamatory articles and posts and issue statements that can reach out to your customers in real time.
4. Google Alerts for Your Business
There could be a dozen of food groups where thousands of people might be discussing pizza joints. Millions of web pages go up in a day, and hundreds of blogs are posted at a time. It is crucial for you to keep track of where and how your business is being talked about.
Unfortunately, it is virtually humanly impossible to keep track of such a dynamically changing environment that updates itself over a span of few seconds. Google Alerts can be your best friend in this situation. Set up Google Alerts for your business and Google will email you a notification, every time someone talks about your business.
5. Google Business Listing
Once you can detect when someone discusses your business online, so make sure you focus on any negative reviews being posted. Staying quiet over a bad review may end up reflecting poorly on your brand image.
Always respond to negative posts and reports so that your customers know that you mean serious business. Get yourself listed on Google Business Listings and it will allow you to respond you to any review or article regarding your business that goes up.
6. Encourage Positive Reviews
When there are a few bad reviews about your brand on the internet, you can overshadow them by bringing in more positive discussions with your satisfied customers. In many cases, customers are happy enough but too lazy to write feedback on the internet. You can encourage them by giving them an incentive to do so. For example, a 10% discount on the next meal if they wrote feedback on an online food blog will encourage them to talk about your business positively.
Monitoring business reputation online is difficult but not impossible. If you are proactive in your approach and know how to use the right tools, you will be good to go.