Digital marketing has changed the landscape of running a business. Promoting and managing your reputation is more interactive and immediate than ever before. Things change quickly, but many of the principles of managing your reputation stay constant. Read on to learn about the importance of online reputation, how to manage it and where you should focus your efforts.
What Is Your Online Reputation?
Your online reputation is spread across various sites, some of which you may not have even realized you were listed! But it’s critical that you stay on top of reviews and responses to your work that appear online. If you’re unfamiliar with the most frequented websites that house reviews, here are the big names to check:
Popular Review Sites
Google features tools like Google My Business to help business owners establish a presence online and share basic details of their company. Things like operating hours, contact info and location for an office or storefront are all available and editable when you prove that you run the company.
But Google also automatically updates information that it’s collected. That means your business could be mentioned on Google without you having to do anything. If that happens, you could be generating reviews without realizing it!
Google recognizes the importance of online reputation and pushes your current reviews to the forefront of any search where it shows your business. Even if you’ve never setup your account, perform a quick search on Google to see if you’re listed!
Yelp is a dedicated review platform that allows users to rate and leave detailed reviews for any business they want. Like Google, it’s a common source for people to find out more about any business before they sign a contract or make a purchase.
To take control of a business page on Yelp, you’ll need to provide information that proves you own the business. Once you do, you can respond to reviews and update information to ensure your Yelp page has the most up-to-date contact details.
While Google and Yelp are general platforms for businesses of all types, Angie’s List is more focused on service and the trades. It functions similarly to other review platforms, but it’s more common for users looking for a tradesperson to refer to Angie’s List to find out more.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of social media sites. A busy business owner may feel like they’re all a waste of time. But if nothing else, you want to establish your business presence on Facebook. As the largest social media platform in the world, it’s most likely the place many users will go when looking up your company.
Reviews on Facebook work a lot like Google or Yelp. Users can recommend your business on Facebook or leave a review that doesn’t recommend you. Facebook reviews can even show up in Google search results, making them another important piece of online reputation.
Local Directories & Publications
On top of the global sites like Google or Facebook, your city or region likely has local directories or publications. Anything from your city directory to a local newspaper can have listings for businesses that share information and allow for reviews.
While a bulk of your online reputation will be focused on the larger platforms, it’s important to check for local listings from time to time. If you find websites that mention your business or have reviews, see what tools they offer business owners for managing them.
Why Your Online Reputation is Important
While the internet has changed how we manage reputation, it’s consistent with what we’ve always known about running a business: positive word of mouth is paramount.
Positive reviews online translate directly into recommendations for your services. If you’re a tradesperson trying to capture new business, these good first impressions can be the difference between getting a phone call or losing business to your competitors.
Well-managed online reputation lets your previous clients share their positive experiences with others, so they know what to expect if they reach out to you. By sharing your strengths, your clients directly promote you.
Most importantly, people looking for online reviews want to find a contractor they can trust. A strong presence of positive reviews across many platforms makes your business appear reliable. In regions where competition is fierce, this can be the make-or-break moment that determines if they contact your or not.
Online reputation helps you run your business, too. If you look at your reviews and listen to feedback, you can sometimes identify problems with your service or your employees. Over time, you can make adjustments to how your business operates to fix those problems and generate more positive reviews.
Risks of a Poor Online Reputation
The true importance of online reputation is how it can hurt your business. It’s no surprise that unhappy customers are more likely than happy ones to leave reviews. It doesn’t take long for a floundering business to get weighed down with a few bad reviews. Once this happens, your ability to find new customers can evaporate, leaving you with a silent office phone and serious stress.
A bad online review is a problem on its own – but if you aren’t aware of where these reviews are, they can become worse. If a customer raises a complaint through a review on platforms like Google or Facebook, other users expect the business to respond. If you ignore negative feedback, it looks like your business doesn’t care. That can make one bad review a death knell for your company.
Lastly, don’t think you can avoid online reviews entirely. Even if by some chance your company has no established profiles online, a complete lack of reviews is often more concerning than a few bad ones. When people can’t find information about your business, it gives the impression that your business is a “fly-by-night” operation or inexperienced.
Managing Your Online Reputation
Most business owners can easily take control of their online reputation in just a few minutes per platform. Even if you don’t intend to run a Facebook page or post news on your Google My Business page, you should take the time to claim them.
You can monitor your online reviews with little more than a few minutes per day. All the major platforms notify you of incoming reviews. Whether through email or pop-ups when you’re using a review websites, you’ll know the moment a review comes in. There’s no excuse not to pay attention to these!
Respond to your users with honesty and integrity. Even bad reviews can be turned into positives for your business if you approach them the right way. When someone has a complaint, let them know that you hear them and want to take steps to remedy the issue. Nobody expects perfection from a business, so when they see that you take feedback seriously, they know they can expect to be treated fairly if they contract your services.
Lastly, encourage your current customers to leave positive reviews. When a customer is satisfied, they often don’t think to leave their feedback. A gentle mention is all it takes to turn happy customers into advocates for your business. Not only can this stir up more business, it can help drown out poor reviews.
About Adrian Steel Upfits
Adrian Steel manufactures contractor-grade products and storage solutions including shelving, drawers, cabinets, partitions, ladder racks, aluminum toolboxes, and accessories. Beyond manufacturing, our dedicated Customer Care Team and a network of highly qualified distributors can have your vehicle upfitted at a location convenient for you – at the factory, out of dealer stock, at your place of business, or through a bailment pool.
Plus, upfits installed by an authorized Adrian Steel distributor are covered for a full 3 years or 36,000 miles.
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