Since the information highway has no end in sight, it is more important than ever to take proactive steps to manage your company’s online reputation. The enormity of the web is a blessing and curse–it gives you the tools to monitor your reputation, but it also gives the same tools to anybody who wants to disparage your business.
Knowing how to use social networks and search engines can help silence unprovoked dissent. Despite the breadth of the internet, only one or two negative pieces of feedback will hurt your company’s image, which scares off prospective customers. Follow a few simple steps to ensure that your business’s online reputation attracts clients and generates revenue.
Use all you can.
If your company only has one website, it’s time to get busy. First of all, anybody can buy a domain. The last thing your boss wants to see is hiscompanysucks.com. Think of all the keywords related to your business and industry. Try to buy as many as you can to prevent a disgruntled customer or former employee from doing so.
Yeah, they’re called social networking sites, but Facebook, Twitter and blogs have made their way into the professional world. There are more networking-oriented sites, such as LinkedIn, that allow you to manage your company’s reputation. Use these sites to brag about accomplishments. For instance, VAMortgageCenter.com ratings get Tweeted via their account to let followers know that other customers appreciate their service.
There’s no point in going through all this trouble to manage your company’s reputation if you’re not stopping others from hurting it. Don’t just set up a Google alert for your company name, but add names of employees and derivatives of your company name. Although Google covers a lot of ground, its servers don’t engulf the whole web. Remember Yahoo!, Dogpile, and Ask Jeeves? Give those a look every so often along with other search engines you know and find.
Create a forum on your company website that opens the floor to customer concerns, comments, and questions. Be quick and thorough to respond to keep loyalty high. If this sort of discussion might bog down your website, resort to a company blog (which you definitely need, anyway). Write about industry-related news to let customers know you’re knowledgeable and to brag away. Make an effort to get customer testimonials that you can share on your blog and social networks.
Don’t feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of keeping your company’s rep clean. Go to your boss to find out who can help you monitor the internet for business threats. Managing your online reputation can be a dealmaker when it’s done right, and a dealbreaker when ignored.