7 Simple Reputation Management Tips for Local Businesses
Among the most overlooked factors in running a local business online is reputation management. The reputation of a brand will shape how people respond to it, influencing sales, leads, and reviews. Many businesses find themselves in uncomfortable situations, forced to respond to a crisis that is negatively impacting their reputation. By planning ahead, though, you can ensure your business is set up to deal with issues quickly, reducing any negative publicity and preventing problems getting out of control. The following tips can be used to ensure your local business doesn’t suffer adversely due to a poor reputation.
Build a Network of Sites
While your website will be the main hub, it is important to build satellite sites that can support your business. The most obvious examples are social media sites, with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn being popular places to promote yourself. There are many other examples, though, like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and YouTube. While you don’t own these platforms, you remain in control of them and they will probably rank in the search engines. If you encounter any negative publicity, your network can be used to promote a positive message and clear up any issues.
Keep Your Social Media Updated
Creating a social media network is important, but it can actually be detrimental if you don’t keep the sites updated. Followers want to see that you are active, with updates and responses ensuring you remain visible. When you encounter problems, social media is one of the best ways to respond. The immediacy of the platforms ensures the correct message gets out to the right people. Social media can, however, be the cause of some branding issues, so it is vital to consider every communication you put out across your accounts.
Respond to Negative Feedback
Every successful business will inevitably receive some negative feedback. If a customer sends a message to your support desk, you would always respond and aim to fix any errors. It is good to maintain this attitude as much as possible across all public sites. If a customer leaves a negative review on TripAdvisor, for example, you could look to resolve the problem, showing all readers that you are proactive and always listening.
Earn Positive Reviews
Ideally, customers will leave positive reviews after a good service. In most cases, though, you will need to prompt people to visit a site and give their thoughts. For local businesses, you will often be dealing with a customer face-to-face. Assisting them with the review process will simplify the procedure, ensuring you receive many recommendations. Alternatively, you can include a link to any relevant review sites within an email after the service has been provided.
Show Your Personality
The reputation of a business goes beyond the brand name. Most businesses, particularly if they are known locally, will have a recognizable owner or staff members. Instead of promoting a faceless organization online, developing the personality of one or two people within the business can help deal with any problems. Customers will be more inclined to trust a recognized personality, giving more stock to the honest opinion of a person over a corporate press release.
Track Brand Mentions
Staying on top of customer feedback and brand reputation allows you to uncover problems quickly. While reputation management is usually sought after a major issue occurs, it should also be used to consistently build a strong brand. Tools like Mention and BuzzSumo can be used to track brand mentions, revealing individual issues, positive feedback, and broad trends.
Deal with Problems Quickly
Small problems can quickly escalate online. If one customer leaves a bad review, for example, others might be tempted to join in the conversation. A simple piece of feedback can then appear to be magnified, with other people gaining the wrong impression. By dealing with problems quickly, they are never able to escalate to a serious level. You can deal with problems by attempting to solve the dispute, fixing any mistakes, and apologizing where necessary.
Maintaining complete control of your reputation online is impossible. You can, however, prepare yourself for any negativity, reducing the impact and preventing problems being prolonged. Being proactive can greatly increase control, with access to the important web and social platforms helping to increase your visibility. There will inevitably be occasions when mistakes are made, but when you are aware of this you can quickly solve any problems and ensure your business keeps the reputation you have worked for.