Today, businesses are not only challenged with running day-to-day operations during a pandemic, but also with maintaining the consumer connection, reaching new customers, and upholding a healthy online reputation.
Online reputation management has always been important. However, in these times of drastic change and uncertainty, it has never been more vital to keep open lines of communication with your customers. For most, the relationships you’ve built with your customers are critical to your success and your reputation. So how do you suddenly maintain these relationships (and begin new ones) from a distance?
As we approach the end of 2020, we want to remind business owners about what it means to manage their online reputation and share a few best practices.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
The phrase “reputation management” may sound daunting to some, but it’s not a new concept, having stemmed from standard public relations strategies and evolved with the rise of digital marketing. Your online reputation is shaped by a combination of reviews, mentions, ratings, comments, and other user-generated content that your customers post online.
A successful online reputation management strategy includes a few things:
- Maintaining a positive brand identity in the eyes of current and potential customers.
- Encouraging consumers to advocate for your brand online.
- Taking control of the online conversation so that when someone searches you, they find the information you want them to find.
- Monitoring and responding to reviews and mentions of your brand on websites and social media.
While these are probably steps that you’re already taking as part of your digital marketing strategy, it’s advantageous to remember some best practices and apply them to your day-to-day so you can best meet the needs of your customers right now.
Here are three tips for sustaining a positive online reputation.
Keep Your Online Presence Current
Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure that your online customer communications are accurate and up to date. The ways we can conduct business seem subject to change almost every day. Regularly update your website, social media profiles, Google My Business pages, and any other digital channels your customers use to find information. Make sure to clearly communicate your most current policies, hours of operation, and any additional services you’re offering such as curbside pickup.
For your business, this could mean responding to emails, voicemails, direct messages on social media, online reviews, or all the above. Allow your customers to reach you quickly, and receive a timely response, through whatever communication channel they prefer. If this is on a public forum like social media or with an online review (whether it be positive or negative), a prompt, cordial, public response shows your entire audience that you care, and may also help to answer questions for others who haven’t taken the time to contact you directly. If you need to gather more information about something, respond publicly first, thank them for their feedback, then follow up with a direct message to resolve any issues.
Broaden Your Base
Businesses increasingly rely on online interactions with their customers, especially now when so many are choosing to stay home. Now is the time to broaden your base by getting your customers to share on your behalf. Even from home, you can continue to create an experience for your audience by using digital tools to connect with them.
Consider collaborating with other businesses in your industry or community. One way to gain more followers on social media and support other businesses in this effort is to create a giveaway contest where entry rules could include following certain profiles and tagging friends in a post.
A great example of this is how businesses in Buffalo are collaborating this holiday season. The Erie County Business Task Force is partnering with Visit Buffalo Niagara, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to encourage holiday shoppers to take part in the #shop716challenge and the Shop 716 eGift Card Program to support independent Erie County businesses through the end of 2020.
For more tips to improve your online reputation management strategy, drop us a line. We’d love to have a conversation.