In the Internet age, a single negative review can have a significant impact on the bottom line of a small business.
According to eMarketer.com, 83 percent of consumers in a recent survey reported that online reviews influence their perceptions about companies. Eight out of 10 consumers reported that negative information they read about a company online made them change their mind about a purchase decision.
“Managing your online reputation is paramount for a business of any size,” says Michael Kiefer, general manager of Brand Protect, an online reputation management company whose clients include Comcast and Bank Atlantic.
“Think about it,” he said. “If someone sprayed graffiti all over the front of your office, you would address it immediately. It’s the same thing with someone spraying online graffiti on your business name online.”
So what can a small business owner do?
Kiefer, recommends five strategies to guide small businesses. 1. Start with a plan:
“Put together a plan of action of how you will manage the reputation of your business online,”’ Kiefer says. “When you find a negative review about your business, what are you going to do? Who within your business is going to handle it? That plan of action is the first critical step.” 2. Keep tabs on the Internet:
Once you have a plan of action in place, “you’ve got to make sure that you’re listening to everything that is said about your business online,” Kiefer says. “Google your business name often, check online review sites, find out if someone is trying to create a website with the name of your business in it.”
Social Mention (socialmention.com) and Brand Monitor (brandmonitor.thismoment.com) are two free tools to help you get started. Enter your business name and if someone is talking about your brand online, a list of search results will appear. You should also sign up for Google Alerts that will notify you via e-mail each time your business is mentioned online. 3. Handling negative reviews:
If you find a negative review about your business online, Kiefer recommends engaging the author of the comment. “It’s very important that when you find a negative review about your business online, whether on a website or on social media, don’t panic,” said Kiefer. “Instead, respond to the review. You need people, who may well be potential customers, to see that you take online reviews seriously and are willing to respond and fix the problem.” 4. Make your website reputation ready:
“Make sure the titles of the pages on your website contain key words that will help you rank high in search results,” Kiefer says. “This will help to bury negative reviews and push them off the first page of results.” 5. Create brand-specific content:
“For a small business, it’s not just about what’s responding to what’s said about you online,” Kiefer says. “It’s also about building your online reputation by creating content that will rank high in search results. This includes blog posts, social media updates, articles, videos and other content that helps to build your business brand.” For more tools and techniques for managing your online reputation, log on to www.BizBytes101.com