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Maintaining a positive reputation can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to your business. Even before the rise of the Internet twenty years ago, favorable word of mouth was the lifeblood of every thriving business, and now that the Internet has become ubiquitous, reputation is more important than ever. With virtually every brick-and-mortar store having an online presence and more than 100,000 e-commerce stores in the U.S. generating meaningful revenue, competition is incredibly stiff, and your company needs all the help it can get in order to succeed.
Whether your business is just starting out or you’ve got a decades-old company that’s flourishing, you need to maintain your online reputation carefully. Below are six surefire tips to help ensure that when people search for your company online, they’re greeted with positive material that helps draw them to your business.
Run a Search Yourself
When managing your online reputation, the best place to start is with an Internet search to see what people are saying about you. No matter how new or small your business is, the odds are good that someone out there is saying something. So do a little digging to see what the general attitudes are toward your business. This research can give you a baseline for where you should start when it comes to managing your online presence and offer an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of customers.
Buy Your Company’s Domain Name
If you want your business to be taken seriously, then you need to have your own website. While your company’s site doesn’t need to be jam-packed with information spanning multiple pages, you do need to have the basics of your business in one single, easily accessible location. Not only does a quality website familiarize customers with your brand, but it also offers them answers to questions such as where your store is located and what hours you operate. Small business owners can expect to spend anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a year to several thousand dollars annually on their website, but it will definitely be money well spent.
Another side effect of the Internet is that everyone expects companies to be totally transparent. Social media has opened the flood gates of communication, all but eliminating the barriers between companies and their customers. Consumers want to be able to talk directly to representatives of a company, and they expect the company to respond to their questions and concerns. Do your best to maintain a transparent online presence and allow your employees to interact online with clients.
… But Not Too Transparent
As important as transparency is, being too open online can quickly become a problem. Never forget that you and your employees are the collective face of your company, and the thoughts and opinions that you post on social media, even on private accounts, can reflect negatively on your business. For best results, try to keep your company’s reputation in mind when posting anything online, and remind your workers to do the same. Believe it or not, one errant tweet can wreck havoc on an otherwise thriving business.
Join Social Media Networks
In addition to maintaining your own website, it’s crucial for your business to have a presence on the most popular social media networks. For best results, create a Facebook profile, Twitter account, and Tumblr page for your company at the very least. Not only will utilizing these sites expand the influence of your brand, but they can also allow you and your business to show a bit of personality. Sure, you have a business to run, but there’s no reason that you can’t build a reputation for sending out funny tweets or posting gorgeous pictures on your business’ Facebook page. And if you continually add new content to these sites, you can keep your customers constantly engaged.
Work Quickly to Correct Negative Word of Mouth
Negative word of mouth can be a killer for your business. So as you’re conducting regular checkups of your online reputation, be on the lookout for comments or reviews that paint your company in a harmful light. Often, negative comments result from simple misunderstandings or an interaction that didn’t live up to a customer’s expectations. If you find an unflattering review, then see if you can reach out to the person who left it and correct the situation. Every once in a while, businesses will find negative reviews that are entirely baseless, and in these cases, you can contact the administrators of the review site and try to have them taken down.
When people search for your company online, it’s crucial for them to find positive information that encourages them to utilize your products and services. If you follow the steps above, you can make sure that your online presence is positive, giving your company the best chance to succeed.
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