The single most important thing to remember about reputation management is that opting out isn’t an option. Whatever you personally think of the whole idea, it is and always will be a big deal. For small businesses in particular, overlooking and ignoring reputation management can make you a sitting duck. It’s important to remember that while much of it may go on behind the scenes, there will always be those out there who are willing to fight as dirty as necessary, in order to give themselves a competitive edge.
So assuming you decide to take reputation management into your own hands, where and how should you start?
1. Establish a presence on all relevant properties
First of all, you need to make sure that you own and operate a presence on every social media site and other relevant property across the board. Doing so not only expands your reach and SEO profile, but prevents malicious entities from being established to damage your reputation.
2. Build your social media profile
Simply having any number of social media followers isn’t enough. You need to ensure that they are built and managed to such an extent that both audience engagement and SERP rankings for relevant terms fall in your favour. If not, negative posts could possibly outrank the more positive entries about your business.
3. Carry out frequent audits
In the feel of reputation management, auditing the essentials refers to a process whereby you locate as many mentions as possible of your business name, products, services and so on across the web in its entirety. A somewhat intensive job, which is why professional assistance or quality reputation management software can help. It’s a case of seeing what’s being said, responding accordingly to criticisms and fighting back against anything erroneous or fraudulent.
4. Always respond
When and where you encounter negative press about your business in any way, shape or form, ignoring it is the very worst thing you can do. Even if it is just a single disgruntled customer, the fact that they have taken the time to share their thoughts with the world means they’re a one-man/woman publicity campaign against everything you do. It’s best to assume that every negative comment comes from the kind of customer who’ll stop at nothing to destroy your reputation.
5. Don’t hide it
When negative commentary is to be found, don’t even think about trying to hide it. That is, assuming it is justified and genuine. You will always gain much more credit in the eyes of other customers by showing yourself to be the type of proactive business that accepts shortfalls and works proactively to both respond to and address them.
6. Don’t get into arguments
Last but not least, getting into online arguments is something that’s surprisingly easy to do, but can be tantamount to suicide for your reputation. Even if you’re 100% in the right and dealing with someone fundamentally unpleasant, it is only you that stands to lose out by getting sucked into an argument. Initial responses, apologies and compensatory offers are fine – all-out arguments and derogatory comments of any kind are not.