As a business owner do you know what people are saying about your company and what its online reputation is now or is becoming? The old saying, "No publicity is bad publicity," is just not true today. With name recognition comes consumer awareness, for better or for worse. When small business owners start out, they think the big challenge will be to get their company and their products noticed, but many have found out that the hard way that it's crucial to maintain your company's reputation over time. In an age when information is a few keystrokes away, nearly anyone can feel like an expert and try to influence public opinion either for or against your product or service.
We've discussed previously what to do about bad reviews and how to manage customer complaints on social media. A 2016 survey done by BrightLocal re-emphasized the importance consumers place on reviews of local businesses. Some of their findings were:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they're asked to
- 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
- 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
- 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important
Reputation management is more proactive than reactive, however. It's the process of continuously monitoring your company's online profile and making sure it's always presented in the best possible light for anyone who may be searching for information. Customers are important, of course, but investors will also google your business, as will potential employees. What information will they find on Facebook, on Amazon, on Yelp, or on Twitter? What response will they see you've made to criticism in the past and what has been your company's process for dealing with dissatisfaction from customers?
We no longer live in villages, so there's less talk person to person about how well companies run their businesses, but online reviews and social media have taken their place, and they are read and examined. Not only that, but they're permanent - a review from five years ago referencing bad customer service can make an impact today even if that employee has gone for years. But a good, thoughtful response showing that a company can respond well to criticism and work towards its resolution may sway someone's opinion towards interacting with your company.
If you have any questions or concerns you'd like to discuss about your company's online profile, please feel free to contact us at Corporate Conversions. We have experience in this area and would be happy to advise you and help you put together a sound strategy for reputation management.