There are 286,942,362 internet users in the United States. Of that group, users who are online shoppers spent an estimated $1,804 per person on ecommerce purchases in 2015. Consider the same data for 2016, and you will find that we nearly surpassed $100 Million in retail ecommerce for the second quarter alone. There’s no question that you need to keep your business in front of the right audience in order to drive sales, which makes it mandatory to cultivate a strong online presence. However, regardless of what you may have heard, not all publicity is good publicity. A basic understanding of online brand reputation management can help preserve your company’s image, as well as its bottom line.
Research Your Existing Online Reputation
The first step in understanding your online presence is to find out if one already exists. Yelp averages 73 million unique monthly visitors to their desktop site and another 92 million on mobile platforms. There is a very good chance that your business has a Yelp page, whether you created it or not. Even if Yelpers have somehow missed your company, there are countless others, such as Angie’s List or TripAdvisor to pick up the slack.
It’s important to remember that not everyone will have a positive experience, and others may perceive negativity even if they’ve received stellar service. Don’t be discouraged by negative reviews; there will almost always be at least one.
Respond to Criticism
We live in a world where 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews. Some reviews are fair, and others are profane, but you need to give all of them equal attention.
An eloquent and sincere response to a bad review can positively influence potential customers’ perception of your business. Respond with remorse and thanks if a legitimate complaint or constructive criticism is shared. Customers need to know that you’re concerned about their experience and take responsibility for mistakes.
On the other hand, if a negative review is based on lies, don’t be afraid to respond and explain the situation to other customers. Be cautious when you do this, though. Never attack a customer or belittle their opinion. Instead, explain why their review is unreasonable and unjustified. Also leave an email address or phone number where you can be reached and offer them an opportunity to talk to you one-on-one. When you offer a naysayer the chance to respond in person, it adds credibility to your perspective.
Stay Engaged on Social Media
If you have any doubt that a strong social media presence is crucial to your brand’s public image, check out our articles on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, and Twitter. The more involved your business becomes with its social media following, the more opportunities you’ll have to advertise and connect with your audience. This is especially important if you target millennials.
Transparency is also a huge benefit of utilizing social media.
Cohn & Wolfe’s report entitled, From Transparency to Full Disclosure found that more than two thirds of consumers in the US, UK, and China rated honesty and transparency as important in deciding which businesses to support.
Social media platforms can help you create an open dialogue between your business and consumers. They like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and subscribe to your channel on YouTube. It’s a way of monitoring your online reputation in real time and a channel that can be used to connect with individual customers on a personal level.
The influence of the internet over our daily lives is only growing stronger. Instant access to information and the ability to transfer it instantaneously across the globe can spell disaster for a brand without a solid plan for online reputation management. We’ve spent years perfecting our practices for reputation management, and we hope you found our beginner’s guide useful.
If you’re in need of an online brand reputation management team and would like to learn more than just the basics, contact us here. We’ll ensure that your current and future customers view your business in the best possible light.