For the last couple of weeks, there’s been a massive spill of online reputation news on the web. From fake reviews on Yelp to bad reviews gone wrong, the topic seems to be on just about everybody’s mind.

From last week up until yesterday, sources such as TimeHuffington Post, and Forbes spoke up about the importance of managing your online reputation and proactive steps to take to combat it, sooner than later. Most businesses haven’t considered the importance of good online reputation management and some don’t even know where to even begin when they receive a publicized paragraph of protest. So, we wanted to share some insight on ways to actively take action right away.

Step 1: Claim Your Profiles  

When you Google your brand, what do you see? Google recommends that publishing positive content to combat bad content is a good method of reputation management. To manage all your reviews, you have to see where they’re coming from. If you haven’t claimed all of your business directories, now is the time to do it.

Action steps:

The first step to managing your brand or company is to claim your business online. You’ll want to make sure that nobody else has control of misrepresenting your brand. Some sites to start claiming are: 

  • Bing Local
  • City Search
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Google Places
  • Google+
  • Insider Pages
  • Judy’s Book
  • LinkedIn
  • Merchant Circle
  • Pinterest
  • Trip Advisor
  • Yahoo Local
  • Yellowbook
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp
  • YouTube

By visiting each site and making a claim, this will allow you to take your online reputation by your own hands to manage it. Any sites that aren’t claimed might lead to some lost reviews and if a bad review is posted somewhere that is unknown to you or worse, shared, that might cause a stir and cause major problems.

Step 2: Encourage Customer Interaction 

Whether this happens on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, encourage some positive reactions from customers. This might take you establishing a strong social media presence and keeping it active. We know it’s really challenging to keep up with social media activity daily, but even simply sharing and reposting relevant content is a step in the right direction to better your interactions with customers and prospects. And plus, this helps search engines, like Google and Bing, rank you better, which equals even more chances for social interactions. It’s nice to know that most online reviews are positive ones, so the chances you’ll receive more negative reviews than positive ones is slim.

Action steps: 

  • If you’ve received a positive review, be sure to share and/or respond to attract attention.
  • Add in “review us on” buttons to website, blog, email newsletters, and social media.
  • Catch customers who have “checked-in” recently and get them to share a review with you while their experience is still fresh on their minds.
  • Thank customers who came into the store or who you spoke with today and ask them for an online review.

Step 3: Monitor and Reply Promptly 

If you do receive a not-so-good review, it’s always good to respond appropriately and as soon as possible. Online reputation management requires day-to-day management (a pain, we know!). There are ways to go about making it easier for yourself, like setting up reminders to check social media and online review sites regularly or using a reputation management service that sends you alerts whenever someone writes a review. However, we have to reiterate that customers expect businesses to be active on social and online networks to have a conversation with and if it’s something bad they’re speaking to you about, they want a response, fast. 60% of customers brands to respond to social media comments (Clickz). 

Action steps: 

Scenario: You’ve noticed or received an alert for a review: 

If It’s Positive:

Go Ahead and Share it

Yipee! It feels good to receive a good review from someone and it’s perfectly okay to share it with everyone. Good job!

If It’s Negative: 

Choose the Right Outlet to Respond Appropriately 

Depending on the type of review you receive, you might consider using another place online or forum to address the issue. Will this review require only one response for you? Or, do you see the conversation going back and forth? If the latter is the case, it might be best to contact the customer directly through a message, email, or through a personal phone call. Never say anything “privately” online that you would be concerned with sharing publicly online.

And If You Were Clearly in the Wrong

Nobody likes to be wrong, but it’s natural that it happens sometimes. Customers understand that. Accept it, apologize, and offer a resolution. Explain the process that will unfold to fix or rectify the situation and ensure that the problem won’t happen again. Communicate that all parties involved are aware of the issue so the customer knows that preventative measures have been placed. 

Businesses have to realize that from this moment onward, a brand’s reputation will always be on the line, online. With so much freedom and power given to the consumer (thanks to the nature of the digital web today), businesses will just have to be on their best behavior and take preventative action in repairing a tiny hole from causing a flooded room.

Online reputation management is an ongoing process, click below to learn more about our reputation management services and take active and proactive steps to guard your online reputation.