We’ve written about how customer engagement is a two-way street in today’s digital marketing world. That can frankly be a little scary, especially when you see negative comments or bad reviews pop up. But those are just flukes, and you can safely ignore these people—right? Wrong. People are talking about your business and you need to be an active part of the conversation. Businesses need to be serious about Online Reputation Management (ORM). Here’s what it is, how it affects your brand, and what you can do.
What Are They Saying About You?
It’s easy to find out. Are people commenting on your blog posts, Google or your Facebook page? What are they tweeting? Too often, companies can be so focused on putting out content in a traditional top-down way and checking out the metrics that they’re not paying enough attention to what their followers and readers are actually saying. Even worse, they might respond to negative comments and criticism in an unhelpful and even snarky way.
So what can you do? You can moderate comments on your own site, but you can’t do anything about social media, Yelp, or Google right? The trick is taking the time to actually monitor your social media channels, responding promptly and taking complaints seriously. If you can show that you’re listening and that you care enough to put things right, your response can go a long way improving your reputation.
New Views on Reviews
There are more places than ever to review businesses, products, and services: Yelp, Google, Groupon, Living Social, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and many, many more. And reviews are easy to find. Want to see an example? Just Google your business name (or another business in your community) and see the card that comes up. Thanks to a recent change, not only do Google reviews show up, but also reviews from sources around the web. This affects how people see your business, and it also affects your SEO. As you can see from our sample straight off of Google, not even the Pentagon is safe from the terrors of the internet.
No Quick Fix
Don’t you wish you could just delete these bad reviews? Sadly, most of the time, you can’t. Some review sites have policies about removing comments that use defamatory language or contain false information, but it can be a very high bar to clear. Again, what can you do?
The most important thing is to be proactive. Many channels allow businesses to claim their listings. Facebook has a method for claiming unmanaged pages for your business. Yelp allow businesses to claim their business pages, which lets you update your hours and contact info, respond to reviews, track user views, and more.
Your response to reviews is critical. Are you taking complaints seriously? Are you responding politely? Are you taking genuine steps to address problems that come up?
Taking Charge of your Reputation through Search
Sometimes you can do everything right and still get a bad review showing up in Google. It happens. You may have heard of agencies who specialize in ORM, and whose sole job is “fixing” your reputation. The trouble is, reviews are organic, and it’s impossible to manipulate them without treading into some gray areas, such as paying people to leave reviews and making fake accounts.
Another way to help push negative reviews down is to boost your positive search presence. You can improve the way your business looks on Google, offering enough great content and information about your business on the internet (such as press releases and features on other websites) cause websites with negative reviews get moved further down the list of results and they become less visible to the user. Another idea is holding promotions or giveaways that encourage your customers to leave reviews.
Your online reputation matters, and there’s no easy fix. Online reputation management needs to start from the ground up through good business practices, excellent customer service, SEO, social media monitoring, branding expertise, and, most of all, being responsive. Does this seem a little overwhelming? Marketing agencies with the right blend of skills can help you address problems before they start—and recover after stumbles.