The best thing about managing your online reputation is that word of your dedication to quality, combined with consistently outstanding customer service, will get around.
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) August 06, 2013
Prospective customers draw conclusions about a small business based on both their personal experience and what they hear from others—the all-important “word of mouth.” So it’s very important for small businesses owners to do all they can to preserve their good name, digitally speaking.
Jeremy Durant, Business Principal at Bop Design, a San Diego web design agency, offers the following tips to wisely manage your online reputation:
Cultivate an active presence. At the very least, a small business should have a presence on such platforms as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest—if for no other reason than that’s where everybody else goes. Signing up for an account is just the first step. Next up: Building and maintaining a positive online reputation. The goal is developing an interactive relationship with the public at large and a potential target audience in particular. This can only be achieved through active, robust social media activity.
The pay-off? As Durant notes, “Cultivating an online presence that seeks to inform (and occasionally entertain) visitors gradually builds your audience and causes your site/blog to rank higher in search results, which in turn diminishes the effect of negative search engine results.”
Generate content that adds value. Small businesses can draw visitors to their sites—and keep them coming back—by starting a blog aimed at their target market.
“Be prepared to freely share knowledge and experience in this blog, since this digital asset helps populate search engine listings and establishes you as an expert in your field,” Durant says. “The more content you produce on a regular basis, the more people come to see you as a ‘go-to’ resource—and that likely includes purchasing your product or service.”
Another tip: Link generously to other related blogs and offer comments on their posts. Keep the conversation going.
Monitor what’s going on. Obviously, a small business wants to know what others are saying about it. This means staying on top of current customer feedback. Durant suggests doing a Google search of your company name along with the word “review.” This should call up commentary on your product or service, both good and bad, in other industry blogs, message forums, chat rooms, etc. Creating a Google Alert for your business is also a good idea.
Refrain from responding to negative reviews. “Sooner or later, someone out there is going to have a problem with your product or service and will feel it necessary to share their views online,” Durant notes. “You can’t control this, so don’t waste time trying to devise a strategy to ‘outwit’ unhappy customers.”
In the same respect, never reply to negative comments in the heat of the moment. Everything that’s said online stays online. Long after the initial controversy has blown over, someone searching for information on a small business may come across a heated exchange between that business and an irate customer and decide, that’s too much drama for me. “If you must respond at all, apologize for the customer’s experience and offer to resolve the problem through offline contact,” Durant advises.
Encourage positive feedback. There’s no reason satisfied customers need to keep their experiences to themselves. Make it easy and convenient for them to post a favorable comment or review on a blog, website or trustworthy review site. Ask for feedback following a customer purchase. Send a link via email where customers can go to post testimonials. Perhaps more than anything else, favorable user comments give a business credibility with prospective customers.
“The best thing about managing your online reputation is that word of your dedication to quality, combined with consistently outstanding customer service, will get around,” Durant says. “That’s how word of mouth works online.”
Bop Design is a San Diego web design agency with offices also in the New York metro area. We express a business values through branding, advertising, design and web design. We also help attract a firm's ideal customer through search engine optimization and search engine marketing. The marketing firm's focus is on small businesses that want an external team of marketing specialists to help give their brand an edge in the marketplace.