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In the information society that is 2013, sporting a positive online reputation is more important than ever.
You see, not having one can lead to a whole host of problems for one’s small business, most notably losing customers who may think otherwise of what they read, see or hear about you online.
As more consumers go online to do their browsing and purchasing of goods and services, you and your company’s online reputation must be reviewed and perfected, allowing you to stand out from the competition.
For those business owners who doubt the importance of their online reputations, take to heart the data from a recent Retrevo.com survey:
* Fifty-eight percent of smartphone owners have reviewed electronics in a store, then purchased the product elsewhere online;
* Consumers said the same about other products, including (41 percent for shoes), (39 percent on apparel), (23 percent when it comes to appliances), (22 percent on sporting gear), and (19 percent when the interest is home and garden).
So, keeping you and your company’s online reputation as spotless as possible does matter in today’s world.
Among the ways to go about this include:
1. Maintaining a high degree of online professionalism - It should go without saying, but how you and your employees act online when representing the company goes a long way. If consumers see you and/or your business as not being professional online, it could sway them to go to your competition. If you have an online issue with a customer, always keep the level of communication professional at all times. If the customer chooses not to, take the conversation offline or do as much as possible to stay above the fray. Some customers will turn to Facebook, Twitter or other social venues (see more below) to vent frustration about a shopping or buying experience with you and your company. Your goal is to handle it professionally from start to finish;
2. Social media and online forums - Back in the day, issues with customers likely involved face-to-face contact, a letter in the mail, or even a phone call or two. Before you knew it, then along came the Internet, opening you and your business up to an entire new world of potential criticism. While you and your team can’t spend 24/7 monitoring online forums and social media sites, you do need to invest some time and effort in them, looking for instances where your name or your business come up. In many cases, the news will be positive, but there will always be some negative references too. You should periodically Google your name and your company’s name, looking to see what many consumers see when they do likewise;
3. Promote the positive - Finally, while you have more than enough to keep you busy on a daily basis, make sure you and/or your team promote the many positive things going on at your business. Such activities should be promoted through your company blog posts (including guest posts on other sites), press releases, social media contributions, and positive mentions on other sites. As you promote the positive stuff, search engines will take notice, moving such information higher up on their searches. When consumers come to check you out online, the pro stuff will be some of the first things they see, hopefully pushing down any negative connotations.
If 2013 is the year that you take control of your online reputation management, make sure your current and potential customers know about it.