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As a business owner, keeping your online image polished and maintained is crucial. About 91% of consumers read online reviews when considering visiting a local business or making a purchase. A stellar online reputation can gain awareness for your brand and generate new consumers.
Your online reputation is your business’s identity. Therefore, any interactions you make affect your brand. Plenty of examples show brands that no longer choose to be affiliated with CEOs due to mistakes made online. So, remember to tread lightly when you're online.
If you’re not sure where to start, begin by planning. Start by setting goals, establishing an identity and researching your audience. Keep reading for seven of the most effective ways to manage your online reputation.
CONDUCT A BRAND AUDIT
To begin, conduct a brand audit. Think of this as your company’s annual health check-up. The simplest way to conduct a brand audit is to search for your company and brand online. See what consumers are saying about you. Are they giving fair reviews? Two out of three people base their purchases off of online reviews and 53% of adults in the US say that they trust the internet.
Conducting a brand audit will give you an understanding of your current online reputation, where you stand compared to your competitors and help you set goals for your business. You’ll discover your strengths and weaknesses and gain a better understanding of your audience’s expectations.
Once you’ve completed a brand audit, you can start your planning process. It’s always important to set both short-term and long-term goals for your brand. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable and trackable. Having vague goals may be achievable but not helpful when planning. Be sure to set deadlines and guidelines along with your goals. Setting your goals will illustrate the bigger picture on your social platforms and help you to easily maintain your online reputation.
CHOOSE A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM
Once you have set your goals, you should determine which social platform is a fit for your business persona. Keep the tone of your brand in mind when choosing a social platform. For example, if you own a home decor brand, then Instagram would be a suitable choice to showcase your brand’s aesthetic and products. If you’ve done your research on your audience, choosing the correct platform should be the simplest step. Knowing your audience will help you have a better understanding of the types of social media platforms they utilize.
It’s always a best practice to acknowledge reviews and respond in a timely manner, regardless of the tone of the review. The same goes for when consumers reach out to your company with inquiries, it’s crucial to address them promptly. Responses makes customers feel acknowledged and appreciated and can lead to future brand interactions or purchases. Brand engagement is still important even if your consumers do not go through with a purchase. Keeping your consumers engaged will also increase their loyalty and the word of mouth chatter about your business — that’s priceless.
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL
Although it’s beneficial to stay engaged, ensure your brand is only engaging in activities that will positively affect your online image. Steer away from religious or political topics unless your brand is in that realm or advocating for a good cause such as human or animal rights. Make sure your responses to negative feedback are professional. As the saying goes, the customer is always right.
Networking is free marketing for your brand. It’s the least expensive, yet most effective, way to get your brand noticed. 78% of startups succeed at the first stage of brand awareness by properly networking. Build relationships with other individuals who may help grow your business and generate positive word of mouth.
UTILIZING PR STRATEGIES
Stay proactive with your online persona by addressing any issues before they get out of hand. When you do encounter escalated issues, utilize a strategic crisis plan and PR strategies to manage your reputation. Be transparent and genuine to earn stakeholder trust.
Building and managing your online reputation can be time-consuming and will not happen overnight. Be patient and trust the process. Share valuable content to keep your followers engaged, seek ways to grow brand awareness and remember that how you interact with your followers will leave a lasting impression on your business.