Step #1: You HAVE To Know What They’re Saying About You
The first step is to monitor what people say about your business online, as what others say about you is more powerful than what you say yourself. This means reviewing ALL of the sites where your business is listed, and people can make comments. Sites like:
- Trip Advisor
- Google Reviews
- Industry-specific sites
Pro tip: Know that people use hashtags to “file” their posts. Think of one that might be used for your business, the most likely being #yourbuisnessname. You can search the platforms for this tag to find related posts that were posted by others, like your customers and staff. Most of them will be positive and supportive….but maybe it’s an angry customer or a disgruntled or drunk employee thinking they are funny.
It also means “Googling” your business to see if anyone is writing or talking about you. There are so many new agencies out there looking for a way to get clicks to their site that they’ll latch onto anything remotely interesting.
Step #2: Use Social Media and Digital Marketing For GOOD, Not BAD
Once you’ve read that, it’s easy to think, “I’ll just avoid it altogether, stay off the social media platforms and not worry about it.”
Big Mistake! Social media and digital marketing are important for businesses of all sizes. In today’s digital age, it is essential to have a strong online presence to reach both existing and potential customers. Social media platforms provide an easy way to connect with customers and build relationships. They give you a great space to demonstrate what you offer, why you are better than the other options, share your culture and style and sell your products and services.
Additionally, digital marketing channels such as email marketing and paid search allow businesses to target potential customers based on their interests and demographics. As a small business, allocating resources toward social media and digital marketing is crucial to staying competitive and growing your business.
Step #3: What If Someone Goes Negative About Me?
Let’s start with your online review sites. Online reviews are essential for small businesses because they help to build trust and credibility with potential customers. People will believe what others say about you more than what you can say. It’s like getting a recommendation from a friend that you trust.
But no matter how great you are, eventually, negative reviews will appear. People will take the negative ones with a grain of salt when the positive ones outweigh the negative ones. That’s a reason to always ask happy customers for more reviews online; the negative ones will disappear.
Pro Tip: If something goes viral, even if it is only within your community, the first step is to have established the habit of two-way communication with your customers to solve any problems and offer appreciation or thanks for constructive feedback. This part of reputation management is one of the most critical aspects of doing business. It can be the difference between growing your sales and losing customer faith.
Once you have established an online brand reputation and are actively involved on your review sites, if someone writes something particularly horrible or posts pictures that go viral in a negative way, you can move in to manage the situation quickly and effectively.
Examples might be an angry ex-employee who wants to tarnish our reputation by posting a bad review or someone spots a rat by your dumpster and decides it needs to be complained about online.
If the negative content is posted on a site you can’t access, find out where it is to determine how to proceed. In some cases, you may be able to have the content removed, especially if it is inaccurate. If people begin sharing or commenting on it through your channels, you can respond professionally and respectfully. Tell the truth, don’t get defensive, and share how you solve the problem if it is legitimate.
What others say about you is far more powerful than what you say yourself. That’s why online comments are so valuable when they are positive. By monitoring your online reputation and responding to positive and negative reviews, you can ensure that your business provides excellent customer service and attracts new customers.
Ok, The Good News
Viral content doesn’t last forever. The internet moves fast. Unless you are of Kim Kardashian status, and depending on the severity of the issue, negative viral content won’t last for long, although it will feel like it if you get a sudden hit of negative viral attention.
Vox.com says their data shows a window of about two weeks. And we suggest that it’s likely shorter than that if you have an effective online review management strategy.