online reputation management for small businesses

Online Reputation Management for Small Businesses

Online reputation management for small businesses - boost your brand's online presence, protect your image, and attract more customers.

Today, even the smallest of businesses usually have an online presence of some sort — even if they don’t realize it. An easy-to-read website and updated social media accounts can prove to new customers that the business is going strong, as well as appreciated by its customers. Online reviews can be the catalyst that draws in potential customers, but a lack of reviews or a slew of negative feedback (with no response from the business) can be off putting.

But online reputation management doesn’t have to take hours of your time. We’re here to highlight several time-saving strategies to manage customer feedback and improve your brand image in this article. We’ll cover what online reputation management is, why managing your small business’s online reputation matters, and how to incorporate online reputation management into your marketing strategy effectively.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Let’s start with what it means to manage your business’s online reputation. There are four main pillars of media that represents your business:

1. Paid media

Like its name suggests, paid media is simply media that your business pays for, like ads, sponsored posts, or other sponsored content. You can choose how you publicize your business with paid media.

2. Earned media

Earned media includes mentions of your business on third-party platforms that you don’t pay for, like news coverage or external reviews. These mentions can happen organically, like on review sites like Yelp, Google, Glassdoor, or Trustpilot.

Responding to mentions of your brand on these sites can help build customer trust. When you receive negative reviews, it helps to write a response and try to correct the issue or address the concern. This is useful in addressing the specific customer’s pain point but also is publicly viewable. Other customers will note the time you took as a business to work with your customers and trust your company more.

Additionally, you can also make requests of your customers and offer incentives to increase the number of positive reviews.

3. Shared media

Shared media refers to social media content, so Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can build earned media content by working with influencers.

These channels are especially important to monitor. Be sure to monitor positive and negative feedback on shared media sites. Responding to concerns is key, and you can also respond to positive comments to show that you are active and engaged with your audience — that you care what they have to say. You may also want to monitor relevant forums.

4. Owned media

Owned media is any form of media your business has direct and complete control over, like your website, blog, or case studies. Content marketing is part of owned media. You can use search engine optimization (SEO) on the media you own to influence where you appear in Google search results — it can help you to get on the first page of a search engine result and boost your traffic.

Why Is Online Reputation Management Important?

A recent PWC study showed that a lack of trust in a business would drive away 60% of U.S. customers, thus stopping them from making a purchase. Online presence is a big part of how customers evaluate how trustworthy businesses are. That’s why it’s essential to manage your online reputation.

The more positive content and positive reviews, the better. Potential customers will search your business to ensure that other customers are having a good experience in their interactions with your business. They also want to see that you’re taking action to address negative comments or reviews. Responding to comments can directly impact your negative search results since previously dissatisfied customers might choose to increase their star rating of your business after their concerns are addressed.

How to Claim Your Google Business Profile

Here’s a little-known secret about controlling your business’s online reputation: You might need to claim your Google Business Profile. Claiming your Business Profile allows you to control the information that appears in a Google search for your business. Your Business Profile contains some of the most important details about your operation. When potential customers search for a business on Google, they’ll see details like business address, business phone number, hours of operation, and website, and you’ll need to make sure it’s all accurate.

A Business Profile might not be created automatically — you may need to submit your business listing to Google or claim ownership of an existing profile. Plus, it’s entirely free.

Here’s how to claim your business’s profile on Google:

  1. Open Google Maps and click the three-bars in the left-hand navigation bar to drop down the menu.

  2. Select “Add your business” from the menu options.

  3. You’ll be taken to a new page where you can begin the process of building your business profile on Google.

  4. Follow Google’s directions on how to finish claiming your Business Profile.

Benefits of a Strong Online Reputation

A brand’s online reputation can make or break a business’s success. A brand image and brand name portray what the company stands for to its customers and it can either attract or repel new customers, which directly affects sales. A strong online reputation offers a chance to win over new clientele, while negative content can push customers away from making purchases.

Enhanced customer experiences can increase your Net Promoter Score, which means customers are likely to promote your business organically. If your current customers trust your business, they will tell their friends and networks about your products, increasing your overall sales.

Reputation Management vs. Review Management

Managing reviews is one part of brand reputation management. Your online reputation consists of all the metrics involved in the four kinds of media mentioned above — paid media, earned media, shared media, and owned media. Each of these require a reputation management strategy.

Review management is one part of reputation monitoring, but it’s a very important segment. It means when you see a new review, you leave a response to address a concern or thank a happy customer for leaving a review. Responding to negative reviews (as well as positive ones) is one of the best things you can do to keep your online reputation intact.

Strategies for Managing Your Business’s Online Reputation

It’s important to make online reputation management an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. Make a point of regularly checking customer reviews and responding to bad reviews.

There are ways to piecemeal this strategy, but there are also tools out there to make your life easier and save time. For example, you can set up Google alerts to get a real-time notification when your business is mentioned. Or a better option may be to use online reputation management tools, which we discuss below.

As mentioned, you can puzzle together a strategy for managing your online reputation, like when you automate the process with notifications. You can also set up a social media management tool to monitor your social media profiles, and on and on.

On the other hand, you can use an online reputation management tool, like Podium or Birdeye. The only problem with services like these is that the pricing isn’t often publicly available — you have to reach out to them to request pricing. You can also use a public relations or crisis management firm, but these are often cost prohibitive for small businesses.

With the costs unknown for some of these other options, Nav is here to offer you a better choice: the free Social Health widget within Nav. You can monitor reviews across several platforms quickly and easily, directly from Nav. Get alerted in real-time as soon as a new review requires your attention and see your Social Health score to give you a quick overview of how you’re doing.

Online review management and social media monitoring are key parts of any small business’s marketing strategy in today’s digital world, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Every small business can manage their online reviews across online platforms directly from Nav, quickly and easily. Nav is your partner in all things small business, and we’re here to help you thrive — online and off.

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online reputation management for small businesses

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