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In business, reputation is everything. Aside from your work speaking for itself, “word of mouth” goes a long way with consumers who are looking to buy. And these days, many of those people are looking online, especially for reviews about your company or products. In a world where you’re being judged by your online reputation, it’s more important than ever to take control of it. Whether you have a dedicated person within your company or an external resource to help you, it’s up to you to actively start managing your reputation.

Picture this . . . 

An angry customer decides to bombard the Internet with complaints and negative comments about your business. It doesn’t matter if they’re true—they’re out there. Google local reviews display them. Local business listings reveal them. And now anytime someone does a search for a company or product like yours, they’re seeing them, too.

Your company is open 24/7 on the Internet. And so are various websites and social media platforms displaying ratings and reviews about your company.

Tips for an Online Presence and Company Reviews That Draw a Crowd

  1. Manage your reputation. Put a dedicated person on the job either in-house or outsourced.
  2. Know what’s out there. Scour all the social media sites, forums, blogs, message boards, video sharing websites and other channels daily and know what’s being said about your company.
  3. Be responsive. When someone says something negative, respond. Something positive, even more reason to respond! Everyone likes to know their opinion matters, and reaching out personally is a great customer service moment.
  4. Be active on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.  And add shareable content to show you’re an expert in your field.
  5. Have Access. Make sure you have access to all social and online listings.  Be sure to claim any that are out there so you can control what is being said and answer reviews when they are written.

Did You Know?

Business 2 Community, an independent online community, put out a list of 103 compelling social media statistics in November 2013.  Some of the most intriguing findings?

  • 97% of all consumers search for local business listings online
  • 72% of adult Internet users in the U.S. are active on at least one social network
  • 68% of consumers check out companies on social networking sites before buying

So, what does that mean for you? You need a strong online presence, lots of positive reviews and active participation on social media. While you may be certain you’re delivering a great customer experience, it’s important to keep an eye out for what people are saying about that experience. Be vigilant. If they’re posting negative comments, act fast. Respond. Smooth out the wrinkles. And if you’re finding positive feedback, you can collect those comments and promote them to your greatest advantage. Here are some tips to get you started.

Company Reviews are in
A Positive Experience Makes All the Difference

Company reviews will help encourage consumers to choose you. But just as important as your reviews is your online presence. Nothing draws a crowd like gossip. So what are they saying about you and your website? If your online (and offline) reputation is negative for whatever reason, it’s time to turn it around. Yes. It is possible. But it takes local business marketing expertise and an excellent online (and offline) experience.

Having positive reviews is a must for small businesses—and a main ingredient for business success. A Zendesk survey conducted last year found that 86 percent of consumers claim to be affected by negative online reviews. So what can you do? You have to know what it takes to become the center of attention. You have to know the way consumers think and what makes them act. And that has everything to do with customer service and how you handle each experience. So, how do you invite reviews?

Go ahead and ask for reviews!

There are plenty of people ready to say good things about your business, and you should make sure they do so. Most customers understand the importance of online reputations and will be happy to help you as long as you make it easy for them. Encourage customers to submit company reviews. Have a dedicated in-house employee or work with a local SEO company who can develop a campaign that drives customers to the Internet with their feedback ready to be shared. An excellent idea is creating a graphic button on your website where users can click to review you, create an email marketing campaign asking for company reviews, or create printed material promoting your online sites where reviews can be submitted.

Follow the rules.

When it comes to reviews, what are the rules? Obviously, you can’t pay anyone or offer incentives for positive online reviews. Don’t pose as a customer and post good Google local reviews. This is clearly unethical and it will catch up to you. The same goes for creating fake profiles to criticize competitors. But relationship building can go a long way. Positive reviews mean positive experience, so maximize the far-reaching benefits of each positive review so that a long-term customer relationship is developed. Utilizing incentive programs and other customer benefits, you can foster a lasting bond between each happy customer and your business.

Get social.

Everyone’s on social media these days, and that includes businesses. Not only is it a great way to connect with your consumers, but as any local business marketing company will tell you, having profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can help you attract new ones. Real-time communication helps make happy customers, which in turn builds businesses. It helps establish your company’s personality and gives your business a human voice that people can relate to. You can also answer questions promptly, manage or build your reputation and positively influence sales. Make sure your profile is up-to-date on all social media accounts.  To ensure success, interact with your followers. After all, they followed you because they had an interest in your services or products. You can show them that you care by interacting with them. Answer questions. Respond to all comments—good and bad. And find out what else they’d like to hear about.

Get your business on Google Local.

Get up to speed on Google + for Business.  This website helps control what information is displayed in a local Google Search and on Google Maps so people can easily find your business. Local Google+ business pages add social interaction to your listing so there’s two-way communication with your customers. You can respond to reviews and post updates. When it comes to local business listings, utilizing this tool is an affordable and easy way to gain exposure.

Create local listings.

Any local business marketing company would advise you to create listings on local directories. Local business listings represent a “citation” or mention of your business—a crucial element used in the local SEO ranking algorithm, not only for Google local reviews, but also for Bing and many others.

Dealing with unhappy customers.

Confront frustrated customers head-on and resolve the problem. Be sure to stay in the loop on all review platforms because worse than an unhappy customer expressing their opinion is everybody hearing about it but you. Take the following steps:

  • Respond quickly and positively – remember others are reading your response.
  • Have a private conversation – if this is needed reach out to the customer directly to try and resolve the situation away from the public
  • Customer service. Customer service. Customer service.

The Bottom Line

To protect your reputation online, a positive offline and online experience will lead to positive reviews. So what are you waiting for? Manage your reputation with these proven methods that broaden and solidify your business, promote your company’s strengths and build up the positive reviews. It might look like a huge task now, but you don’t have to get it done in one sitting. Schedule some time each day, or even each week, to focus on garnering positive reviews, and you’ll improve your online presence in no time!