Your Online Reputation: Manage and Market it by Leveraging Quality Content & Social Media Involvement, Not Fake Reviews
In 2013, Dimensional Research conducted a study for a software company. The research was primarily targeted at customer service and how it affects sales of mid sized companies however, researchers uncovered some golden nuggets that will change the way you will look at Online Reputation Management forever. Here are a couple of those golden nuggets:
- 86% of respondents said negative reviews influenced their buying decisions
- 90% said positive reviews influenced their buying decisions
In today’s plugged-in online world it is a huge mistake to ignore reviews about you or your business on the Internet. More so, it will be an even bigger mistake to leave everything to chance, praying that satisfied customers will post the best testimonials while unhappy or disgruntled customers keep their opinions to themselves. The reality is, your target buyers are out there researching and searching for you on the Internet and they’re not looking for your website. No, they’re looking for any excuse not to do business with you. The key – don’t give it to them!
Your Reputation is so Much More than Just Customer Reviews
Indeed consumer reviews have been proven powerful in shaping how prospect buyers decide on which product or service to avail. And with 97% of all consumers searching for local businesses online (BIA/Kelsey and ConStat), it’s only a matter of time before they find you on Google. And chances are they’re going to see reviews about you too. That’s why it’s crucial that you have positive reviews outranking and “pushing down” negative ones.
While reviews are important, it’s wrong to think that creating a 5 Star Reputation online is simply about publishing reviews. It’s an even bigger mistake to think that you can fabricate reviews to influence consumer perception. Recently the New York State Office of the Attorney General has been cracking down on false reviews and you certainly don’t want your reputation to begin with some damaging press about being charged for gaming the system! When it comes to reputation management, the old adage “negative publicity is still publicity” doesn’t translate into good business.
So what is an effective online reputation management strategy?
Online Reputation Managent (ORM) Objective: To Highlight the Positive, Push Down the Negative
Online reputation management – at least the correct practice of it – is combining the power of content and distribution channels such as social media to improve or restore a business’ or a person’s reputation on the Internet. It is the strategic publication of positive content on relevant web properties so that this content “pushes down” and outranks negative content on search results as well as overshadowing negative material or conversations in social media.
You may be thinking “Is that unethical?” The straight answer is, No. Now, fabrication and publication of false reviews certainly is. But legitimate ORM is anything but fake. It’s being proactive – taking charge of what people are saying about you and managing that to insure your potential customers get to know the real you. Think of it this way: would you rather lose 86% of prospective customers just because of a negative review posted by one unsatisfied customer? Or would you rather that your prospects, your target customers see a fair view of things? Would you agree, having positive results appear first, so that they can at least give your business a try, is fair? ORM means bringing to light the positive side of your business, preventing it from succumbing to the effects of just one bad review, that could be legitimate or not.
And remember, you will not be misleading prospects as you’re not publishing fake reviews about your business. You’re merely encourage legitimate consumer reviews by your happy customers so that these are seen by your target audience. By doing so, you are educating prospects on what satisfied customers like about your business.
Provide Trustworthy Quality Content: Owner & User-Generated
The “content” mentioned above can be categorized in two ways: owner/vendor and user-generated/independent. To succeed in ORM, you will need both.
- The first category pertains to blog posts, articles, and press releases, and other types of content written or produced about your business. At least 58% of consumers trust vendor content and branded websites, according to a Nielsen study. You have total control of this category and you should take advantage of that fact.
- Second, you need to include independent content in the mix too as 73% of consumers are more likely to trust a business with positive reviews from their peers. Status posts, comments, reviews, testimonials, and other types of content written or produced by consumers, bloggers, and other parties outside of your business have the greatest impact.
Professional ORM: How Effective Marketing Agencies Do It
In a nutshell, this is how effective online marketing agencies and reputation managers conduct ORM:
Research > Content Setup > Social Setup > Publication > Engagement > Maintenance
- Research – Proper ORM starts with keyword and online presence analysis. You want to know what terms your prospects use when searching for your products or services online. You also want to know where you currently stand alongside other players in the market.
- Content Setup – It proceeds with the setting up of properties where you will publish your own content. These include your website blog and external blogs, where prospects can interact via commenting. Content must be produced based on your target keywords.
- Review Capture and Filtering – The best way to control your reputation is by actively soliciting feedback; capturing that feedback on a page you manage; filtering that content, so negative feedback gets to the people who can do something about it and quickly – you and your managers, while positive reviews goes public so it can have the greatest positive impact on your business.
- Social Setup – If you don’t have social accounts yet, this is the time to set them up. In most cases, Facebook and Twitter will do. But if necessary, other properties like YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more can be included for maximum exposure. They must be optimized and branded.
- Publication – Uploading of articles on vendor-owned web properties starts the branding process. Your filtered positive consumer reviews are taken by your online marketing agency or reputation manager, formatted and published across various media. This stage also includes sharing of content via social media, as well as commenting on relevant blogs. Initial tweeting and status posting and joining groups and discussions.
It Makes all the Difference: Engagement & Maintenance
The first four steps in the process are the easy part. They can be completed in a single month. The last two steps, however, are more difficult and trickier to carry out. Additionally they need to be ongoing and consistent. But needless to say, engagement and maintenance are necessary for you to keep your reputation online positive. They separate reputable businesses from those held down by negative perception on the Internet.
- Engagement – Engagement is the continuation of prior steps, especially on the social side. Tweets need to come out regularly to engage your audience. Facebook discussions are necessary to show your authority in your market. You also need to start acquiring more friends and followers, and joining more groups to extend your reach and influence.
- Maintenance – Online reputation is a never ending process. You can never stop building your reputation, online or offline. That doesn’t mean though that you need to avail of reputation services for the rest of your life. But at least, be sure to adopt a policy of continuous ORM to ensure you have a “buffer” for the foreseeable future. Remember, just one bad review can ruin your reputation.
Do you Know your Reputation? Google Yourself & Your Business Now!
Do you like what you see? Do positive reviews about your products and services come up first? Or are search results a mix of negative feedback about you and then a lot of webpages of your competitors? You can be tolerant but your prospects won’t share that opinion. Don’t do your business injustice. Make prospects see the best of you. Implement proper online reputation management today.
Googling yourself and your business gives you just a glimpse of what may be online about you. Want to uncover the whole truth? Visit CheckMyReputation.ca to get a free report that reveals everything.
At Release Dynamics we manage and market your reputation online to insure your prospective customers have no doubt – you are the industry leader! We do it the right way. Call us now at 778-440-5444 or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can give you a free consultation on how we can create a 5 Star Reputation for your business.