In 2015, it's reasonable to expect that most small and medium-sized businesses will have a social networking presence and make regular posts about promotions, new products and more. But while getting the word out about your business is a big piece of the social media puzzle, there's an even bigger component you may be missing: online reputation management.
You might be tempted to ignore online reviews and focus your efforts elsewhere, but research from New York Times best-selling author Bill Tancer suggests this could be a serious mistake. Speaking with Marketing Land, Tancer reveals that 80 percent of consumers check online reviews before making purchasing decisions — and what's in those reviews matters more than you might think.
Here are three best practices for developing a good online reputation:
1. Make Sure Reviews Are Easy to Find
When a consumer is looking for reviews online, nothing's worse than finding nothing. If your company has no easily discoverable reviews on sites like Yelp or your own social media pages, consumers may hesitate before engaging with your brand or making a purchase. Today's connected shoppers crave information before making decisions, and if they can't find it, their chances of converting dwindle considerably. If you don't have a sizable number of reviews online or they're not easy to find, consider running a promotion that encourages customers to share a review, either with a review service or on a social media website, using a specific hashtag.
2. Respond to Negative Reviews
Though a lack of online reviews may shrink consumer confidence, negative reviews can devastate sales potential. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the damage. For instance, if you own a used bookstore and an online reviewer accuses your store of having a poor selection, you can respond to the review and highlight the variety of authors and books your store has, explain your book acquisition process and invite the reviewer to return to find a new title. Be sure to strike a helpful tone when crafting responses, as an overly defensive answer could come off as disrespectful and might do more harm than good.
Although responding to negative reviews won't make them go away, it allows you to show consumers that you care about unsatisfied customers and will take the time to work with them to make any problems right — which can be a net positive for your online reputation.
3. Highlight Positive Reviews
In addition to responding to negative reviews, it's critical to highlight positive reviews through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. This is easiest when users post their reviews on these platforms, of course, as businesses can simply share or retweet them, but it's important to highlight reviews from other sources as well. Posting links on your social media profiles to positive reviews on websites like Yelp, UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor is a great way to share that positivity with your audience so they know they can buy with confidence.
You may have heard the adage that "all publicity is good publicity," but in today's review-driven world, that is simply not true. Online reputation management ensures that your brand is cast in a positive light and consumers can feel confident connecting with you.