Back in the olden days—you know, when your parents were young and there was no such thing as Yelp or social media—business owners primarily had to defend their reputations in person. If a grumpy customer called them, they could apologize over the phone and make things right, and if they caught wind of a rumor about their company at a local social event, they could set the record straight with the group of gossipers.
Now, thanks to the aforementioned online resources, people can post both positive and negative reviews about your company, and potential customers can also research your business before they decide to work with you. In order to be sure that your online business reputation is accurate and well-defended, owners may want to consider the following words of advice:
Search Your Company’s Name
The easiest way to start defending your company’s online reputation is to Google your business. Pretend that you are a potential customer and do some online research on your company. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you have glowing reviews on sites like Yelp, and/or disturbed to see posts that could damage your hard-earned reputation, or maybe a mix of the two. In the case of a really nasty review that is unfounded, contact the review site directly to ask about having the content removed; you can usually do this by clicking on the site’s contact page. If this tip doesn’t work, it’s time to create new content that will rank high on Google and push the negative information down; this can include creating an updated LinkedIn profile that is search engine optimized and uploading new videos about your company on YouTube.
Address Rumors Directly
If there is some untrue rumor about your company that refuses to die—for instance, that you use low quality products or pay your workers poorly—it is probably time to set the record straight. If you need inspiration on how to do this, look to a company that has successfully navigated a similar situation. For example, many have asked “Is Amway a pyramid scheme?” and instead of ignoring the question, the direct sales company has addressed it head on with in-depth blog posts and videos. You can do the same. Start with a press release or blog post that explains that you are aware of the misconceptions about your company, and then go on to explain what the truth really is.
Interact with People Online
Your social media pages should be more than places to post updates about sales and deals and photos of your products. You should also be interacting on a regular basis with the people who post on your company pages. For instance, if a customer asks you a question on Facebook about your shipping time, respond quickly and thank them for their inquiry. Re-tweet positive reviews and add that you are grateful for their business, and, if someone posts a complaint on Instagram, apologize to the customer and offer to make things right. Potential customers will probably find your company pages on social media and if they see that you ignore questions and concerns, they will understandably feel that you may not care about your customers—even if you do.
Vigilance + a Proactive Approach = a Stellar Online Reputation
When you think about it, defending your company’s reputation involves some of the same principles that your parents experienced when they were younger. In both cases, you need to be aware of what people are saying about your company and take active steps to communicate the truth. By staying abreast of what’s out there on Google, addressing any negative rumors with blogs and focusing on the “social” angle of social media, you will go a long way in defending and maintaining your company’s reputation online.