Online reputation is a challenge for the modern business. The Internet is vast and dynamic – it never stops changing, and it can change in a minute.
In the past, all you had to do was keep tabs on your BBB rating, and handle customer complaints as they came in.
Social media is vast, and easy to participate in. However, only a minority of social media users actually speak their mind – most listen and watch. Any actions you take in response to favorable and unfavorable reputation issues always has to bear in mind that your audience is really the readers, not the original complaint.
Your audience is everyone!
Who uses Social Media? It’s a pretty even split across age and gender.
Since the opportunities for people to speak about your company are widespread, you require a strategy for getting notified when people comment on your company. Obviously, there are opportunities close at hand (your blog, your Facebook page), but there are many others. Monitoring tools are widely available, but the simplest might be to set up a Google Alert on your business name. If Google sees it, it may be worth addressing.
Since social media in particular is interactive, people do expect to see a response. The lack of a response indicates that the company is not listening, and by extension, might not care. People take note of that, and consider it when they make purchase decisions.
Online reputation is challenging. It is a hybrid between customer service and public relations. It poses specific challenges; Do you respond? How to respond? How to generate a mood where people also contribute their good experiences?
One concern that hovers over online reputation for business is; what can I do about malicious comments? Everyone has heard stories.
There are many online best practices – both to drive engagement, and how to deal with the interactive nature of the medium.
- Stay calm. Take a deep breath. Drama is the tool that most people use to get attention.
- Be gracious. You don’t have all the information.
- Demonstrate that you are listening. Show that you are great with your customers, it costs you nothing.
- Propose a route to a solution, take the conversation offline.
Restaurants and services have a particularly tough challenge. The same best practices apply. With recent concern over Yelp reviews, and if they are balanced, another issue of interest has raised its head: Do people on the street just make up reviews?
“For every thousand customers, only about 15 write these reviews — and one of them is writing negative reviews of products he hasn’t bought”
Regardless of the issues that might come up, being online and participating in social media still puts you where the people are, and where they reasonably expect to see you. Your reputation is an asset that you are always investing in, through advertising, marketing, and service. Online is no different, but the speed and immediacy of the medium can deliver rewards as quickly as any concerns!