11 Essential Reputation Management Tips For Small to Medium Businesses

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11 Essential Reputation Management Tips For Small to Medium Businesses

Rupert Murdoch once said, ‘Our reputation is more important than the last hundred million dollars.’ There isn’t much to argue when a statement like this comes from Rupert Murdoch, the American media mogul. Why is it vital for a small business to keep their online reputation beyond reproach? What is at stake here? This comprehensive guide on ORM – Online Reputation Management answers all these questions along with reputation management tips for your brand.

Customers today are taking a deep dive before making a purchasing decision. Be it directory sites or social media the online landscape has created a wide variety of information available for your potential users. Things can quickly go out of hand when you turn a blind eye to negative reviews about your small business. In fact, even a single negative review can change things and make or break your business growth. That’s where Online Reputation Management comes in.

Online Reputation Management involves protecting your online image from being damaged by negative reviews, detrimental comments, adverse feedback, and so on. Maintaining a sterling reputation is an ongoing task involving crafting and implementation of strategies that shape the public perception of your brand or small business. Reputation management plays an important role in setting the expectations of your future customers and leaving a great impression on what you do.

Why Does Your Small Business Need Reputation Management?

In the early 2000s or even before that, dissatisfied customers could have easily influenced their family and friends. One unhappy customer meant no business from their relatives or possibly even the community. Fast forward to 2020. Customers have multiple ways and channels to share their negative experiences with a company. These reviews can be seen quickly by hundreds of your potential customers beyond your locality. In fact, consumers are conditioned to take a look at online reviews before making a purchase – more the reason for you to create and implement a reputation management strategy.

Here are 4 reasons why you should consider reputation management for your small business.
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The 5 Stages of Reputation Management

Now that you understand the significance of reputation management, it is time to delve deep into understanding the five stages of reputation management. Each step is essential in its own right. Once you follow these steps, you will be able to deliver more WOW moments to your customers.
i) Exploring Content Removal Options: Research involves exploring if any content needs to be removed from any website/search engine and the way to go about it. Based on what you find, you can make DMCA-take-down requests or opt for suitable legal methods. Depending on the situation, you may want to simultaneously use it with other removal strategies such as Google search result removal, NoIndex removal or YouTube Video removal.

ii) Analysing SERP Gap: The next step is to minimise potential threat opportunities. At this stage, you will find out the significant differences that exist between search results for your business and a similar one. This will help you to reduce possible reputation threats. You can take the necessary steps to minimise.

iii) Creating A Development Plan: With the GAP analysis results ready, now it’s time to create a list of websites where you can publish positive content about your business. These sites fetch organic traffic and gain inbound links to your website. This development plan plays a vital role throughout the online reputation management campaign.

iv) Identifying Relevant Influencers: At this stage, you should be looking for industry-specific influencers and thought leaders who can help you to promote your business in a later phase.
i) Brainstorming: Brainstorming sessions help you to come up with different content ideas that your target audience will find useful. Create target audience personas so that your content resonates with the actual customers and their pain points.

ii) Content Development: After brainstorming topics, the next step is to create a content calendar with a detailed plan of the different kinds of content you plan to post on your website and social media handles. Types of content may include but are not limited to blog posts, social media posts, videos, guest posts, external articles, press releases, slideshows, and so on.

iii) Review Improvement: Review improvements means getting genuine reviews from your customers so that your business appears to be more credible to potential customers.
i) Owned Web Properties: Since you have greater control over the websites that you own, you can easily promote positive content published on your website and other web properties that you own.

ii) Paid Content: You can also include paid content promotion in your reputation management strategy. Forms of paid content include guest posts on high-authority websites, paid content discovery, and sponsored content on authority websites.

iii) Strategic Asset Retargeting: To gain traction, you can learn what worked and focus on the same. Be it off-page optimisation or link development or SEO outreach, ensure that your content is easily discovered by the target audience.

11 Essential Tips for Managing Online Reputation Of Your Business

Handling criticism online isn’t exactly a piece of cake. Be it claiming your business online or being proactive in responding to negative comments; you must be willing to bend over backwards to get the job done. Here are some strategic tips essential for managing the online reputation of your small to medium business.
1. Claim Your Business on Relevant Websites: Verified businesses on relevant websites (such as Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook or Twitter) is an excellent way to tell your customers that they are looking at a valid business. Claiming your business on these sites along with the correct name, address, and phone number makes you visible and trustworthy as well. After claiming your business, you will be able to:
2. Establish Your Brand: The online landscape today is cluttered with similar businesses fighting for space and attention. That’s why it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to widen their digital presence. But this doesn’t mean that businesses can sit on the fence and do nothing. The first step of establishing your brand online is to be present where your customers are. Be it social media platforms, review sites, or community forums; you must be able to communicate with your customers either by sharing regular updates or useful information.

For example, if you run a B2B business, you might want to connect with potential buyers on LinkedIn and share relevant information with your network.

If you run a dental clinic, you could explore digital marketing channels such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to showcase client testimonials, your areas of expertise and subject-related knowledge.
3. Be Present online and Tell Your Story: The age-old technique of storytelling never disappoints when it comes to connecting with people. In fact, good storytelling is mission-critical for giving voice to your brand. Such stories help you to make room for your business even in a crowded space. For example, a story on how you built your product, the challenges you faced when starting up or even introducing people running your company.

Businesses are not only competing for making more revenue but also for getting attention from the right audience. That’s where storytelling comes in to help you build a memorable connection and manage a long-term relationship.
build on the positives
4. Be Active on Social Media: Almost every small business today has an account on different social media channels. Unfortunately, having a social media page is not enough anymore. In order to build a reputation for your brand, you need to create engaging content and interact with your followers or subscribers regularly. This helps you to be present in their mind by appearing on their social media feeds.

Well-maintained social media channels play a critical role in boosting engagement and creating conversations with potential customers. Since almost every buyer today searches your business on Google before purchasing a product or service, a well-nourished social media strategy is likely to increase their trust.
5. Ask for Reviews: Building a reputation for your business becomes easier when you have a ton of positive reviews from happy and satisfied customers. In fact, an average consumer reads 10 reviews before being able to trust the business. Therefore, the importance of harvesting positive reviews is second to none.
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Ask happy customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page so that your potential customers are aware of the quality product or service you offer. Besides helping potential customers to trust your business, online reviews speak even louder than any promotion. While managing reviews, you should take care of the negative ones by resolving those and showing how prompt you were in offering a quick resolution. Every negative review in fact is an opportunity to show your willingness to go the extra mile in hearing your customers and addressing their problems and challenges.

Some of the most popular ways of asking for a review include email and SMS.
6. Be Present on Review Generating Platforms: Collecting reviews and managing them is extremely important when it comes to online reputation management. Why is it so? Negative reviews provide you with an excellent opportunity to learn what went wrong and take the necessary steps to fix it. Fixing such reviews helps you to ace customer retention as well.

On the other hand, positive reviews are the best way to show real value to potential customers. Now, how do you get all these reviews? By being present on different platforms that help you to generate customer reviews. You must track reviews on every review platform that you sign up for. Some of the most popular customer review platforms are TrustPilot, TestFreaks, ConsumerReports, Consumer Affairs, City Search, Yelp, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, Better Business Bureau, Capterra, Glassdoor and HundredX.
7. Monitor Your Brand: How do you track everything that is being said about your brand online? With brand monitoring. Also known as social media listening, brand monitoring entails the process of identifying brand mentions on different websites and assessing them. It is usually done by tracking and monitoring specific keywords. Brand monitoring helps you to listen to your customers, improve offerings based on feedback, improve customer support, boost sales, and measure the impact of marketing campaigns.

Some of the most important channels to monitor your brand include online publications, review platforms, forums and social media. SocialPilot, a social media monitoring tool allows you to monitor your brand reputation and mention, even when your brand name is not tagged. And don’t forget the old yet still very useful Google Alerts.
8. Be Proactive and Not Reactive While Responding to Negative Comments: Does a negative review leave you angry? Well, that’s certainly not the way to go about it! Every negative comment is an opportunity to improve your product based on customer feedback and show how willing you are to resolve customer issues. Here is a 5-step approach on how to respond to negative reviews and comments.
9. Crisis Management: A single negative review is capable of jeopardising the reputation of a brand. There are times when businesses face a crisis which ultimately impacts the reputation and business growth. In such situations, a crisis management plan helps you formulate a clear outline of how to react to a crisis or how to be prepared to avoid any future problems. Some of the best ways to manage such a crisis include:
10. Create A Long-term ORM Plan: If you don’t already have an online reputation management plan in place, create one immediately. A plan like this helps you to set the direction of how you want your brand to be perceived. Additionally, the ORM plan protects your business from reputation damages. Here is a 6-step process for creating an online reputation management plan for your business.
11. The Best Tools for Reputation Management: Managing the online reputation of your business becomes easier with ORM tools. Here is a list of some of the better reputation management tools:

Answers to commonly asked Reputation Management Questions

Evaluating the impact of an online reputation management campaign becomes easier with key metrics like customer sentiment, referral leads from review sites, the volume of client testimonials shared on social media, and net promoter score.
If a negative review is significantly damaging your business reputation, we highly recommended that you try to resolve the issue with the customer. However, reviews violating the terms of services of the review platform can be removed within a week, depending on the responsiveness of the website. It can take up to 8 weeks to remove online content. This is dependent on your relationship with the publisher and the publisher’s response regarding the removal of content.
Every business needs a different online reputation management strategy based on the kind of damage it has suffered from. Some of the most popular techniques used for managing online reputation include Wikipedia page development, influencer publication, positive press releases, review improvement, PPC campaigns, publishing positive content, search engine optimisation, development of microsites, negative content removal, and so on.

Businesses suffering from reputation damage often find it overwhelming to grasp the complete picture for identification and removal strategies. That’s why it is important to get a deeper and holistic perspective from the reputation management experts. Whist the initial perceived damage may seem minimal at the start; it has the potential to spiral out of control very quickly and cause permanent damage to your hard earned brand equity.

Yes. Reputation management at a larger organisation impacts more stakeholders who may take some time to agree on what solution to go for. Also, bigger companies suffer from maximum impact because of their size and online recognition. The chances are high that the damage is serious by the time you reach out to a reputation management consultant. That’s why it takes more time to repair reputation damage for enterprise-level businesses.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question since it really depends on several factors like the size of your business, the number of review sites you are present on and the social media presence. For example, if there is one negative review, and you have three reviews in total, that negative review can do every possible damage to your reputation. It is best to try to solve negative reviews by interacting with the customer.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing online reputation. While creating and implementing a reputation management strategy, experts take certain factors such as the volume of business, number of negative reviews and estimated impact into account.
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