What is the purpose of online marketing? It’s to help your business grow bigger than what it is today.
If you do it right, you can use it to bump up the traffic to your site, grow the number of prospects and clients coming into your business regularly, and increase profits over time. The more you do this, the bigger your company becomes.
Pretty simple to understand. But there are also a lot of things that can potentially hold you back.
Like online reputation.
Reputation is defined as: the beliefs or opinions generally held about someone or something. Combine it with the process online, and you can assume it’s about how well your site and brand are perceived across the internet. But it really goes deeper than that. Your online reputation can impact your entire business, both online and off. It has the potential of reaching way beyond your niche and target market – viral videos will ensure that. And it’s also something that can change in the blink of an eye.
How do you know what to do?
This is your online identity
Your online identity is how others see you. It’s not something you can completely control. With social media, review sites, and Google ready and waiting to take action, your online reputation is a very adaptable thing.
Think about your own actions online.
Let’s say you want to buy a new vacuum cleaner. You can head over to Google and type things like: “best vacuum cleaners” and be rewarded with all kinds of reviews and comparison sites that you can review to make your decision.
Or maybe you’re in the market for a new furnace. With just a little bit of searching, you can find comparisons of various companies that manufacture furnaces, and also review sites to see which heating and cooling companies have the best reputation. Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List have millions of companies, and even more reviews that can help you narrow down your choices and make your final selection.
Before the internet, people relied on family and friends to ask for advice. The concept of “friends” has changed tenfold. In minutes, you can get a pretty good idea of what specific companies, services, and products are like.
I get all of that, but why should I care?
A lot of companies out there have some grasp of the extensiveness of how people talk online. But few actually take the extra step of paying attention to it, and building an online reputation management system to help control it.
Think about why a person chooses to do business with a specific company. It’s ultimately based on trust. They trust what you say. They believe in your product or service, and what you stand for as a company.
And more of that trust is being built online.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, search engines are on equal standing with traditional media sources regarding trust issues. What may even be more surprising is the growth in social media. Six years ago, only 41 percent of those surveyed placed any trust in social media, versus current statistics showing it’s raised to 49 percent.
Think about that for a moment. When you combine both social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and add in search results from Google, they far outweigh relying on more traditional media for making decisions.
It’s no longer something you can ignore, not if you hope to be in business for years to come.
Glad you asked.
Your online reputation is what it is. While you do have some control, it’s also something that relies on the rest of the world as well. If you try to take control, you’re more likely to get burned in the process.
You can’t “buy” reviews. You can’t “delete” bad comments. Try that, and you’ll quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble.
But you can take control over managing your online reputation. Because when you understand it, you have a variety of strategies to overcome it. And to be in close contact with both your prospects and customers for a long time to come.
This is how you do that.
Build respect with your fans – these are your prospects and your customers. Even if people don’t do business with you, do they still think of you as a reputable company?
Be transparent – how often do you hear these words out in the business world today? All companies are striving to be more transparent. You can do that in a variety of ways, including giving your employees more freedom to make decisions, establishing a more open communication channel, and dealing with criticism both online and in person in a more transparent way.
Monitor what’s being said – do you know who’s been tweeting about you? There are lots of tools that can help you monitor every mention of your products, services, company, or brand. It’s being said whether you know about it or not. It’s much more effective if you can deal with each interaction transparently.
Handle each interaction quickly – imagine having a bad experience with a restaurant. Would you rather have the manager make amends while you’re still seated, or several months later when you barely remember the incident? Speed matters. Not only does it help defuse the situation you’re having with a particular party, but it also shows anyone following along how well you deal with problems. Everyone has a bad day from time to time. It’s all about the global scope of how you manage interactions.
Use online tools, don’t ignore them – hoping sites like Yelp will go away won’t help you grow your business. Instead, take control and claim your profiles and pages. Set up your social media accounts and use them. You can even advertise on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for building up brand recognition and increasing visibility with your prospects and customers. Do they see the same information as they move from place to place? Or are you sporadic at best when you post on various sites? Clarity is key to a strong reputation.
Don’t be afraid to attack – a lot of businesses choose to ignore criticism. This isn’t always your best course of action. While you should never continue fighting with someone who solely wants to fight, you can stand up to an attacker and state your case. When people read through comments, they form an impression based on everything they see. If you call someone out for making a false claim, or support your side of the story with facts, some people will take your side. They can read through the commentary and form their own opinions. But that can only take place if you’re there to state your case.
Ask for help – we’d be remiss if we didn’t also say that as you come across truly nasty claims – and a lot of companies will face this as they continue to build online – ask for help early in the process rather than waiting for things to cool down. This is your brand we’re talking about. Your company’s health is at stake. And an expert in online resources can help you pull away from the muck, and start rebuilding once again.