Online reputation has become an increasingly important tool as we continue to shift toward a digital-based economy. A virtual reputation often precedes any interaction or business deal, which is why monitoring and safeguarding what’s said about you online is so crucial. This is of course also true of businesses and companies that rely on customer word of mouth to create brand loyalty.
That’s one reason why it’s especially surprising to hear that as many as 33 percent of companies do not monitor their online reputations in any way. This startling statistic was released earlier this month in a report from the Irish human resources firm, CPL.
The detailed annual summary entitled Employment Market Monitor also found that amongst the companies that do pay close attention to their online presence, 45 percent said they do little to reduce negative reviews and instead opt to promote positive postings.
“Online reputation management is a very new area for companies, and even established corporates struggle to get it right,” said Peter Cosgrove, CPL Resources’ director.
Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, taking time to monitor and protect your business’s online reputation will pay off in the long run.
The first and often most painful step is to find out what is already being said about your business online. Google searches with targeted keywords can expose any negative or unhappy customer reviews, as well as provide you an idea of how your business and products are being received by your client base.
There are also a number of tools and resources available to gauge what is being said about a company, its employees, products, and/or services. Tagboard, Hashtagify.me, SocialMention and TweetBinder are a few online tools that allow users to monitor keywords across multiple social media platforms.
“Search various social networks for keywords and hashtags related to your business; you can even set up alerts so that you’re notified when your brand is mentioned,” wrote Jayson DeMers, a Forbes contributor.
Google also provides a variety of analytic tools that can be tailored to specific needs and goals. Google Alerts is one of the free tools that provides regular notifications of new brand and keyword mentions in real time.
Another key step in online reputation management is creating your own positive content. Hiring or assigning a specific person to routinely update social media pages with information, special deals, product news and other exclusive content will promote engagement and open the paths for better dialogue with clients.
Managing your brand and online reputation is a fundamental step in business longevity in today’s product and media saturated world. When 90 percent of customers research a company online before ever doing business with them, a poor online reputation can be catastrophic for the success of any business, regardless of the industry.
Prevention is always better than reaction. However, a company must address the negative reviews they receive online, ideally by being upfront and directly responding to the negative comment. And do not forget — it’s never too late to begin rebuilding a negative online image.