Five ways to manage your online reputation

reputationManaging your online reputation is something you can’t ignore in 2014.

In my last post I discussed the importance of managing your company’s online reputation. In this one, I’ll share five ways that get down to the nuts and bolts of how to actively watch and maintain that reputation.

  1. Remember that social media is a two-way street. When it comes to social media, your reputation isn’t just what your company puts out about itself. It’s also about what the public thinks about your company. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit idly by and wait for customer feedback. When customers indicate that they’ve had a positive experience, encourage them to talk about it on Yelp, Twitter, Facebook or some other platform.
  2. Respond, but respond appropriately. If a customer posts positive feedback, acknowledge it with a thank you. If they post negative feedback, then use that as an opportunity to both respond to the situation professionally and improve your company’s products or services.
  3. Encourage use of sites that verify. For example, the Better Business Bureau’s website does not post customer feedback until it can verify that the respondent is indeed a customer of the business—and it gives the company a chance to respond to the charges levelled against it.
  4. Find out which sites cater to your industry and follow them. For example, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia and hotels.com all cater to the hotel business.
  5. Know when to lawyer up…and when not to. As with any other form of communication, companies can take legal action against people who post about their experiences with a company in a libelous fashion. However, legal action should be the last resort. While your company may be able to legally force someone to stop negative comments, you have to weigh the cost and the harmful publicity that comes with hiring lawyers and taking an individual to court. Rather than being seen as protecting your brand, customers as more likely to see you as a bully.

How often should you check feedback on your business? It depends, based on your company’s staffing capabilities and business volume. For most businesses just starting with reputation management, try to monitor feedback daily, and adjust according to the volume of responses you receive.

Above all, be engaged. Managing your online reputation is something you can’t ignore in 2014. The public will definitely voice its opinion about your organization—it’s up to you whether you are vigilant about keeping that reputation untarnished.

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