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7 Tips to Build a Positive Online Reputation for Your Business

  • March 7, 2017
  • Written by Community Futures Manitoba

Imagine potential customers searching for your company on Google. What would they find? A glowing review about your company… or a Facebook post criticizing your customer service?

In the internet age, gathering too many negative reviews or posting one wrong Tweet can destroy your reputation and alienate customers. On the other hand, a single great customer service experience or viral video can funnel loads of business to your company.

There is no doubt that managing your online reputation is a must if you want to attract customers through the internet. In this article, we will discuss exactly what online reputation management entails and how you can implement 7 best practices to build a positive online presence for your brand.

What is online reputation management?

Entrepreneurs often think that online reputation management only applies to social media interactions, but in fact, it encompasses the entirety of your company’s brand online:

  • Social media posts and videos
  • Reviews (positive and negative, on different review sites and webpages)
  • Press releases
  • Webpages ranked on Google and other search engines
  • Coverage by news outlets, media sources, and online publications
  • Every mention of your business from internal and external sources

Online reputation management means overseeing your presence on all forums. That sounds intimidating, right? Don’t worry—with the 7 tips below, you can start to get a handle on your online reputation.

Tip #1: Prioritize online sources by impact
As explained above, a variety of elements go into an online reputation, from social media to press. However, that doesn’t mean that all should be prioritized the same way. Devote the greatest amount of attention to the most impactful pieces of your company’s online reputation.

For example, critical reviews on Yelp could have a huge negative impact on your brand if you own a local business like a hair salon or restaurant. Noticing and responding to criticism on this forum should take precedence over responding to everyday comments on Facebook.

Tip #2: Respond quickly, even if just to buy time
When people complain, sometimes they just want to be heard and acknowledged. If you receive a negative review or a complaint about an issue like a defective product, but you still need time to look into the matter, consider responding with a consoling statement like “We appreciate you bringing this to our attention and are working to resolve it. We will keep you updated.”

This not only acknowledges that you heard the person’s complaints but that you’re also working toward a solution.

Tip #3: Don’t blow up
It’s tempting to lash out when you feel like your company has been unfairly criticized. After all, your business is your baby! But lashing out at critics can backfire and actually make your company look worse, such as when Nestle criticized critics for pushing the company to be more environmentally-friendly.

Respond positively by thanking the person for their feedback and offering a solution, such as:

  • A discount on their next order
  • A refund
  • A phone call from you to get to the bottom of the situation, answer their questions, and apologize
  • An explanation of how you will avoid the situation in the future

Tip #4: Use criticism to get better
Not all customer feedback is going to be positive. That’s okay! No business is perfect, and the internet provides a great forum for real-time constructive criticism to make your product or services better.

Adjust your perspective to look at criticism as opportunities for improvement rather than attacks on your company. View glowing praise as an indication that you’re succeeding in certain areas and should build upon those ideas.

Tip #5: Leverage brand champions
Those customers who write glowing reviews and comments on social media? They are your brand evangelists, the ones who champion your company online simply because they love what you do and what you stand for.

Develop great relationships with them to build your “tribe” of committed brand champions. Engage with them on social media or send them special coupons for upcoming products. The more they love your company, the more they’ll spread the word about it.

Tip #6: Take legal action if necessary
If a company, news outlet, online magazine, or individual is spreading false information that damages your brand, you can ask them to correct their material. If they refuse, you may be able to take legal action. It is best to reach out for legal counsel in these situations.

Tip #7: Automate processes to keep an eye on things
Forget constantly scouring the internet to keep on top of your company’s online reputation. Automate the process by setting up Google Alerts for your company’s name, for instance, so that you receive an email whenever your company is mentioned online.

Building a great reputation requires commitment but it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Download 50 Affordable Ways to Promote Your Small Business,
a free e-book developed by Community Futures Manitoba!