As a business, your online reputation should be your greatest asset. If you have a good reputation online, it will drive your leads and sales. But if you have a negative reputation, it could sink your business.
Need more convincing? Well, a survey showed that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And now everyone has a smartphone or tablet, Googling a business or product has become second nature no matter where you are.
So, what do you need to know about business reputation management?
Getting your reputation management strategy wrong can be very costly, so read on to find out about some common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. There Is Such a Thing as Bad Publicity
We've all heard the phrase “there's no such thing as bad publicity.” The theory is that if people are talking about you, then it's good advertising, even if what they're saying is negative.
However, this is a PR myth that originated before the internet.
While it's true that musicians and artists can create sales from being controversial, it rarely works for businesses. No company benefits from the buzz of a faulty product recall or a PR gaff.
In the digital age, negativity can spread across the internet like wildfire. That negativity could be the only thing that consumers ever read about you, and it will stick in their minds and inform their decisions.
This is why there is such a thing as bad publicity, and why you need to take your business reputation management seriously.
2. Don't Ignore Bad Reviews
This brings us to the next common mistake that businesses make: ignoring bad reviews.
When something bad happens, we all face the temptation of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping that it blows over. However, as a business, this is a huge mistake.
Reviews influence 67.7% of online purchasing decisions. So if you leave unresolved negative reviews online, it will drive people away from your business.
If you respond to negative reviews you demonstrate to everyone that you listen, and take on board people's concerns. It also shows that you care about customer satisfaction and resolving problems.
Future consumers who see a bad review that has a polite, helpful response will be far less bothered by the initial negativity.
3. SEO Should Be Part of Business Reputation Management
Search engine optimisation should also be a focus of your business reputation management. After all, reputation management is about making sure people see positive stories about your business.
Yet many businesses make the mistake of joining up their SEO strategies with their reputation management.
A successful SEO strategy will rank positive content higher than negative on search results. Make sure you promote positive feedback or news articles by blogging about it on your site and making sure the post is fully optimised.
This keeps the cream of your content floating at the top of results pages, and the less flattering content should fall to the bottom.
4. You Don't Need Millions of Reviews
It's a myth that you need huge amounts of reviews in order to boost your reputation. It is quality, rather than quantity that matters.
Whether it's TripAdvisor or Google Reviews, what counts is what proportion of your reviews are positive. So 9 good reviews out of 10, will give you the same rating as 900 out of 1,000.
If you don't have very many reviews, don't worry. Concentrate on promoting positivity and encouraging customers to generate more.
5. Never Post Fake Reviews
While it can be tempting to take shortcuts, nothing good usually comes from them, and that includes posting fake reviews.
Lying to promote your business is morally wrong, and can even be illegal.
If you post fake reviews and people find out, the damage to your reputation will be enormous. Customers will label you as dishonest and it will undermine their trust in your business. It will also make people question the integrity of genuine reviews.
6. Be Proactive
Another mistake that businesses make when it comes to their online reputation is to sit back and wait for it to happen. As a business owner, you should be proactively encouraging customers to leave reviews.
There are a few ways which you can do this.
Make it easy for customers to leave reviews. So, make sure you register your business profile on the major review sites. You can also include links on your website and email signature to make them easier to find.
You can also come right out and ask customers to leave reviews. You can do this with a follow-up email, phone call or by leaving cards in your shop or premises.
7. Negative Feedback Is Not the End of the World
Finally, one of the main mistakes that businesses make with their reputation management is to let negative reviews get them down.
If you run your own business it can feel like a personal blow if you get a negative review. However, while you should be taking reviews seriously, it is important that you don't take them personally.
View negative reviews with your head rather than your heart. Think about what practical steps you can take to make the situation better. If you become scared of negative feedback it will make you less likely to engage with it.
Try not to dwell on the negativity, but use it as a tool for learning and improving.
Boost Your Online Reputation Today
These are some of the main myths and mistakes of business reputation management.
Always remember to engage with both positive and negative feedback. Try not to let it affect you personally, but use negativity to help your business improve.
Think about how to make it easier for customers to tell their positive stories about your business. And when they do, always promote them and use them as part of your SEO strategy.
If you would like to learn more about how reviews can benefit your business, check out some of our online resources right here.