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Tip of the Week: Don’t Be Caught Off Guard By What People Online are Saying About Your Business

b2ap3_thumbnail_manage_your_online_reputation_400.jpgEvery business owner understands that having a good reputation is paramount toward their success. Yet, some business owners may not fully grasp just how much the Internet influences their company’s reputation in today’s business environment. In order to find out what the people of the Internet are saying about your business, you have to manage your company’s online reputation.

If you’ve never checked on your company’s online reputation, you may be in for a surprise. Just because everything is hunky dory around the office, doesn’t mean that these feelings translate to the online realm. The Internet gives a dissatisfied customer or a former employee with an ax to grind a platform to express their views, and if you’re unaware that such a platform even exists, then your reputation may be taking a hit without you even knowing it. By properly managing your company’s online reputation, you’ll be able to effectively perform damage control in such scenarios, or better yet, capitalize on the good things that are said about your company.

Begin With Google
To get started managing your company’s online reputation, try searching for your organization’s name in Google Search. If you’ve never done this before, you may have a surprise or two awaiting you. Although, unless a user review has generated a lot of Internet traffic, you probably won’t come across it on the first or second page of Google. Instead, you’ll likely find search results for your company’s website, your information on a listing service (like Yellow Pages), your location on Google Maps, your Google Plus account, and perhaps your company’s social media accounts. Therefore, in order to get to the parts of the Internet where people are talking about you, you’ll more than likely have to dig deeper.

You can get more specific with your Google search by including the name of your city or whatever product or service it is that your business specializes in. This will take you to some different web pages, and perhaps introduce you to websites that you never even knew existed (which you’re mentioned on), like review websites such as Yelp.

To go even deeper with Google, you can look for search results that took place within a specific timeframe. Do this in Google Search by going to Search Tools > Any time. From here, you can narrow down your search to include results from the past hour, or all the way up to the past year. You can even go to Custom range... to narrow down your search to specific dates. One way that this can be helpful is by searching for dates that your business gave people reason to talk about you, like your company’s busy season, a major promotion, getting covered by the local news, or even after parting ways with a problem employee.

And while it’s one thing to search for what’s been said about you online, it’s completely another thing to stay on top of what is being said about you. To manage your online reputation in real time, Google offers a helpful tool known as Google Alerts, which can be found here: https://www.google.com/alerts To use Google Alerts to manage your company’s online reputation, simply add your company’s name or product in the form and sign up to be notified via email every time Google indexes something new about what you specified. This is a great way to nip reputation problems in the bud by being the first to see what’s been said about you as soon as it’s posted.

Don’t Forget About Your Company’s Social Media Accounts
Too many businesses make the mistake of setting up a social media account just for the sake of having one, and then ignoring it because they don’t see immediate ROI. Whether or not your company’s social media account is meeting your goals, the fact remains that you need to at least be monitoring the activity relating to your account. By its design, social media gets people to interact with company accounts, and like the rest of the Internet, these interactions can be for better or worse regarding your company’s reputation.

Like performing a Google search, you can search the various social media platforms to find out what’s been said about you (which will often require you to first have an account). Similar to Google Alerts, social media platforms will notify you every time your business is tagged or a post is commented on. At the very least, you should be paying attention to these notifications and respond promptly to them, including the negative comments. Actually, as shocking as it is to come across a negative comment on social media, if you play your cards right, you can actually respond fairly and tactfully to score some points with other users who are viewing the exchange. For the most part, Internet users will appreciate a company that’s involved enough online to listen to and answer their concerns.

More Online Reputation Management Tips
Taking advantage of Google and social media to manage your company’s online reputation is a great place to start. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, however. For major companies, managing their online reputation is actually big business and involves dedicated personnel. Therefore, if you want to dive deeper into this practice, check out these 7 online reputation management tips from Sprout Social.

1. Get customers to share positive reviews & experiences.
2. Connect with consumers and solve problems.
3. Find creative ways to tell your company’s story.
4. Monitor your presence and direct the conversation.
5. Give your employees an avenue to share content.
6. Rethink how you use social media.
7. Remember the power of social media.

In the same way that being proactive about your company’s technology maintenance can prevent issues (White Mountain IT Services’s specialty), you can actually improve your company’s online reputation by being proactive about it. By taking steps to get your name out there in a positive way, like participating in online forums and leaving comments on websites, the good things being said about your business online will outweigh the bad, and thus, your company’s reputation will improve. In a day and age when what’s said online can literally make or break your company, you really can’t afford not to manage your online reputation.

What efforts do you take to manage your online reputation? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments.

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