Control Your Company’s Narrative: How to Actively Manage Your Online Reputation

It’s no secret that we manage more of our lives online. From making new friends, to finding a new job, buying groceries, and arranging for someone to watch our kids, we do so much on our computers and mobile devices.

A quick run to almost any local mall provides clear evidence of this trend: the going-out-of-business sales and empty compartments are everywhere.

But while this shift has changed how we collect, test and act on information that drives our purchasing decisions, we still:

  • rely on what we know of a brand (company website)
  • comparison-shop for the best return on our time, energy and resources (Google) and
  • trusts signs of competency and reliability (awards and reviews)

No matter how far technology evolves, reviews (i.e., word of mouth) will always be a significant decision-making factor for potential clients and candidates (90% of people report that reviews help them determine the quality of a local business). And if your firm is like most, more people visit your website in a month than you speak to in a year.

So if you’re not actively managing your online reputation…

…you’re missing out on significant opportunities to win new business, attract top talent and ensure the long-term health of your organization.

What story do your reviews tell about your business? Are you helping, or hurting, your chances that potential clients and talent will choose you over a competitor?

If you don’t like the story, or if you like it and want to protect it, you need to manage the narrative. I don’t mean hire a PR firm, but get proactive in managing your online reputation.

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Here are 4 steps to executing an effective reputation management plan:

1. Mine the feedback you already have. You likely have feedback and reviews already. Do a search on Google for “[your company name] reviews” and see what shows up.

Take the time to look at the good, the bad and the ugly and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are there any surprises in the positive reviews?
  • Are you showcasing in a strength that is important to your clients and candidates?
  • What is common or constructive in your negative reviews?
  • What are all the ways you could improve in these areas?
  • Is there a trend with the nastiest comments?

2. Get ahead of bad reviews. The best way to get ahead of bad reviews is to proactively and consistently ask for reviews.Make sure you ask everyone your business impacts for a review. They are most likely to response the closer you ask to their last touch-point with your business.

3. Keep track of new reviews. Sign up for notifications wherever your clients and candidates leave reviews; this will let you know when someone has posted a thought about your business. Then, be responsive. Reply with a thank-you and ask for a positive review. Let the reviewer know how much you appreciate their trust in your service.

If you receive a negative review, you should still reply with a thank-you. Let these reviewers know you appreciate the time they took to share their thoughts. Include that you would like to address their concern, and ask that they reach out to you.

Make sure to keep mining new reviews as you did in step 1 above.

4. Leverage the positive reviews. These reviewers appreciate the work you have done for them. Most likely these are the types of relationships you want to foster and multiply.

Use your thank-you as a foot in the door to deepen the relationship – an invitation to reach out and see how else you could serve them, or to ask for a referral.

Share the feedback everywhere you can. This will improve first impressions wherever someone is looking for your services.

As you work on managing your online reputation you will get better with practice. Make sure to be consistent and have your staff take part. The more involved the company the more the company culture will embrace the practice.

Magezi Mukandala

Magezi Mukandala
Magezi Mukandala is a technical sales support specialist with Haley Marketing Group. He can be reached at. mmukandala (at) haleymarketing (dot) com.

Magezi Mukandala

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