Reputation management for Small Business is a crucial part of any company’s digital marketing strategy but is all too often overlooked. To explain it simply, whereas most digital marketing focuses on ensuring that a brand is exposed to as many people as possible, reputation management ensures that said exposure is positive thereby ensuring that consumers want to do business with you.
To put it another way, having a thousand blog posts about your company is only a good thing if those blog posts are saying nice things. The expression that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ doesn’t really apply to small businesses with thousands of 1 star reviews on Trip Advisor.
Small Business Reputation Management :
So how does Small Business reputation management work for small businesses and what can you do to ensure your comes out of any Google search smelling of roses?
Responding to Feedback :
The key thing to remember when handling Small Business reputation management, is that you need to approach it morally. In other words, you can’t just pay Trip Advisor to remove those bad reviews and nor should you attempt to fake positive feedback. The chances of being discovered doing this are high and the potential repercussions could be very serious for your business.
Instead then, you should focus on responding to your feedback and tackling it head on. Most sites that feature reviews of small businesses allow you to respond with comments. This in turn means that you can answer any negative feedback by offering compensation, by saying how you will deal with the problem and by apologizing for their bad experience. Don’t be defensive – just show that you’re listening and growing and you’ll find it’s good for damage limitation.
Finding Mentions :
Not all mentions occur in official reviews. In some cases bloggers will talk about your business, or your brand name will come up in discussions on forums. Using tools like ‘Social Mention’ you can make sure that any such mentions are brought immediately to your attention.
Search engine optimization is an important tool for Small Business reputation management, especially for a small business. The key here is to ensure that your website is what comes up first when people search for your brand and perhaps your social media accounts or any other sites you have. By keeping yourself at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages) you can thereby control your image and first impression more closely.
Encouraging Positive Feedback :
The unfortunate reality of business is that people are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive reviews. If people have a good experience with your business, that is to be expected and they likely won’t feel the need to inform the world. If you let them down though, they will feel angry and betrayed and will likely write an impassioned review of your services.
Your objective then is to get the people who have a good experience to comment as well. This way, you can ensure that the feedback for your brand is more measured and balanced. There are a number of ways you can do this. One way is simply by asking people to consider leaving a review (even using a pop-up on your website potentially). Another is to give some kind of incentive, though it’s important that this isn’t seen as a bribe.
A great thing about being a small business is that you likely will get the chance to interact with many of your customers in person. This gives you the perfect opportunity to build a relationship and to explain to them how reviews help you. You could even consider snapping a photo of you with your customer and tagging them on social media.
Creating Positive Buzz :
Another aspect of Small Business reputation management is simply creating a positive buzz around your business. If you can create enough positivity around your brand then potentially you can ‘drown out’ anything negative and thereby ensure that you’re seen in a positive light overall.
For instance, you might decide to do something for charity and then heavily promote this so that you have several articles on the subject rising to the top of the SERPs. Combine this with some SEO, press releases and social media marketing and you can generate a lot of buzz around your company that’s positive.
Online in the most severe cases will it be necessary to rebrand. If you’re considering rebranding there are a number of pros and cons that you should consider. Get in touch and we’ll happily discuss it with you.
Finally, you also need to ensure that you are transparent in your communication with your customers and fans. Make sure that you post on social media and on your blog and that you are putting forward your side of the story. Discuss the ins and outs of your business and how you are trying to improve. If you have any bad press, then you can even consider responding to it online directly.
Oh and just make sure you’re doing good work! Provide great service and great customer care and your community will reward you in time.