Brand reputation management is often conflated with crisis management. Many small and local businesses don't consider this critical component of their online presence until there's an emergency. However, there are real benefits to taking a proactive stance when it comes to online perception of your brand. Don't wait to get a plan in place to help manage your online brand reputation.
A Positive Review Can Make a Big Impact
According to the Pew Research Center, 32 percent of Americans surveyed in 2016 said that they highly value the ability to look up online reviews of a product or service before making a purchase. And while there's always the remote possibility that a viral negative review might damage your company's reputation, a positive review can have the reverse effect. Favorable comments about your business can give customers the confidence to make a purchase that they might have otherwise been hesitant about.
While you can't directly solicit positive reviews, asking customers for candid feedback is a great way to build your base. But good reviews are only one facet of online brand reputation management.
Establish Yourself as a Leader in Your Field
Although it's nice to be considered a viable option in your industry, small and medium-sized business owners shouldn't be afraid to aim higher. The power of brand reputation can be used to establish your business as the most important voice in your industry. Anyone can join the conversation; a deft brand management professional will help you lead it.
For instance, if you own a small chain of fitness centers, work with a professional to lead the conversation online. Publishing health and fitness-related articles — and collaborating with other local businesses (and community leaders) to share content across social media — can extend your reach and authority. The ultimate goal is to make your business synonymous with your industry the same way Starbucks is synonymous with coffee. Proactively building your reputation is a great start.
Getting in Front of a Problem Before It Happens
No matter how tightly your brand is managed online, or how amazing your products or services are, nothing can be perfect forever. There will always be a disgruntled customer to stir up controversy. No one looks forward to this eventuality, but businesses that start managing their reputation early will have built up some goodwill both among their current customers and the community at large. This can make them better equipped to handle any negative situation that comes their way.
Managing a brand online is a lot of work. Small or medium-sized businesses may be tempted to go it alone, but it can be helpful to consult an online brand specialist who can identify areas where you can start building your reputation. Ultimately, you'll be able to craft a strategy for long-term growth that will ensure your company maintains a positive image — no matter what happens in the future.