Nowadays, it is easier than ever to get negative reviews.
Literally every person is walking around with a super-computer in their pocket!
But as a business owner, you need to be really, really vigilant about how you handle this!
If you aren’t careful, a few bad reviews could really damage your reputation online. At the same time, it can also be difficult to coax those ‘positive reviews’ out of people who have already done business with you!
But what can you do about it?
In this article, you will learn about a powerful 3-step online reputation management process, to help you thrive in the sensitive area of customer feedback.
You’ll also learn one of the biggest tried-and-true methods that I have discovered to make the ‘customer feedback mechanism’ work FOR you instead of AGAINST you!
Let’s get to work.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is essentially the process of controlling your reputation online.
This usually involves monitoring what customers are saying about you, taking preventative measures to avoid negative feedback, and also taking common-sense steps to help control any sort of ‘negative reputation’ situation that may be going on.
But this is sometimes easier said than done, which is why you are going to be learning some of my biggest tips on the subject in this article today.
The Importance of Managing Your Online Reputation
Have you ever looked up a business online, only to see a few negative reviews that really skewed your idea of checking them out further?
Have you ever heard a bad rumor about someone that pretty much led to you deciding to just avoid doing business with them… regardless of whether or not the rumor was even true?
If we look closely enough, we will realize that we all value a positive reputation in the people and businesses we work and associate with.
You want to have the confidence that comes from knowing that a particular person, or business, is reputable. You also want to know that they will do a good job in return for what they are charging you.
Well, this is why reputation management is so important. You need to make sure that potential customers are hearing, and reading, GOOD things about you… not bad things!
You also want your customers to see you handling whatever negative feedback you may get in a mature and professional manner!
3-Step Process for Effective Reputation Management
You are about to learn my 3 step process for effective reputation management. This process makes it easy to check up on your own reputation online, while also working to manage what people are reading about you at the exact same time.
But you have to put time and effort into it! If you don’t, you may end up losing clients and/or potential customers to negative reviews or other harmful feedback online.
Hopefully, you are conducting your business in such a way as to elicit positive reviews from your customers. But even if this is the case, it can sometimes be difficult to get the positive side of things really rolling in a good direction!
Plus, even if you are doing everything right, the internet trolls will still surface from time-to-time to talk smack.
Here’s what you can do to handle it.
1. Monitor what is going on
As a content creator, it is really important to know what is going on with your business online.
If you are conducting your business in an honorable and reputable fashion, then negative reviews shouldn’t be much of a problem.
But there are still issues like slander. The internet is a lot like the wild west in this respect, as people are pretty much allowed to talk whatever smack they want without any consequences.
There is also something called ‘trend jacking’ that you need to be aware of.
Once you start to make a name for yourself online, and start showing up in the search engines, you will generally start to see people using your name for click-bait in video and article titles.
This is usually an attempt on their part to use your name to get more followers and views on their own content.
And often, these pieces will have a negative slant. They are a little bit like tabloid posts. They are trying to cash in on a combination of YOUR popularity and the human love for drama and gossip!
Search your brand on Google
Searching your brand/name/business on Google can provide a lot of information about what is going on with your reputation online.
You can also sign up for Google Alerts, put in your brand name, and get notifications whenever that name is mentioned online.
If you are a Youtuber, you can also use Tube Buddy. They offer a feature that allows you to monitor your brand on YouTube.
Mention.com is another site that offers tools that you can use to track your name on social media.
There are actually a lot of tools that let you track your reputation online like this… and they all provide their own benefits and drawbacks.
Set up monitoring systems, Google your own business name, and do your best to keep tabs on exactly what people are saying about you.
This should be something that you do automatically and regularly.
Go on review sites to see if anything comes up
This is especially important if you are a local business. Check on local review sites and see what other people are saying about you.
You should also be checking out anything you can find about your employees. Are people describing negative customer experiences that have something to do with your employees?
If so, you need to get on top of those types of situations as well.
But most of all, be aware and know what is going on with your brand online.
2. Prevent your online reputation from going down
When it comes to reputation management online, an ounce of prevention is most certainly worth a pound of cure!
I’ve been curating the first-page Google results for the Miles Beckler brand for years. So I can tell you from experience that this work has saved me a lot of reputation headaches.
Why? Because if there were ever any issues, my own constant efforts to control what comes up under my name on Google would most-likely head them off and bury them way down in the search results.
But this is only true because I am constantly working on my own online presence. If I weren’t doing this, I could be vulnerable to any kind of smack-talking that might be going on about me online.
You should also really consider taking a proactive approach to managing your online presence, and using this approach to head-off potential problems before they end up becoming viable threats to your reputation.
Claim your page and link all social accounts together
The first step to being proactive in heading off potential problems is to do a lot of work on your brand-name ahead of time. There are several steps to this.
- You need to constantly be doing SEO work on your website and social accounts to control and cultivate a positive presence on pages 1 and 2 of Google
- You need to be claiming your social accounts under your brand name before someone else does it
- You need to be posting at least a little bit of content on all of these sites to make sure that you establish a positive, preemptive presence on each one of them
- You also need to put out enough content on all of these social sites (Twitter, Medium, Quora, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) to seed them with data so that Google will pick them up
- You want to link all of your social profiles together. This increases their authority, and helps each one to rank better and show up better in Google results
- If you are a local business owner, you want to claim your accounts on Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor
- Make sure that your phone number is correct in local Google business listings
- Make sure to fill out local profiles to ensure that everything is up-to-date and that you are claiming ownership over all of these review-centers and accounts
- If you are doing positive, noteworthy things in your local community, make sure that local news sources and PR sources know about it
Take control of your reputation online. Be proactive. Make sure that you are doing everything you can to be in-control of what is showing up when people search your name on Google. This truly makes all the difference in the world!
3. Control the situation
Unfortunately, if something bad happens and you end up with a reputation issue online, you may find yourself struggling to deal with it.
If you have done a lot of preventative work up to this point, then you will often have an easier time with dealing with things like negative press, negative reviews, customer complaints online, etc.
But even if you haven’t been putting in as much preventative work as you could have, there are still things you can do to try to head off bad press and negative reviews before they catch fire and hurt your business.
The first thing you have to realize is that it is virtually impossible to remove things from the search engines once they are out there. It CAN be done, but it is so time consuming that it really isn’t worth it.
But even in these difficult situations, you can still be transparent and respond to them in a positive manner.
As a content creator, you are literally going to have trolls coming out of the woodwork to talk smack and make stuff up about you! But you must respond to them with kindness and respect.
If you feed the trolls, they will just keep growing and getting bolder!
How to respond effectively to negative reviews
If you end up with a negative review online, make sure to engage respectfully… but also to be transparent.
You certainly don’t want to be argumentative, and you don’t want to let trolls gain the upper hand on you by giving them an emotional response.
Instead, try to show that you care about the customer and their experience. A great response to a negative review might sound something like this…
“Hey, my name is miles. I'm the manager down here. If you come in and reference this, I will take care of you. I'm so sorry to hear about that situation that occurred. I want to learn more because I want to fix this. I'm always engaged in making my business better. Please give me a call, email me, or come by the shop so that I can make this situation right.”
When I, as a consumer, see that kind of a response from a business owner on a review, I'm much more willing to ignore those one and two star reviews… because I know that the owner is at least taking action and standing behind what they do.
This is a great way to handle those negative reviews when they DO come up.
And of course, if there is some negative press or there are some negative reviews showing up in the first page of Google results, you may also need to work on outranking them.
If the reviews are fourth or fifth down the line, you may need to create 7 or 8 pieces of unique content specifically intended to outrank those negative reviews, and push them down the line.
Useful Tools You Can Use to Manage Your Online Reputation
There are all kinds of tools that you can use to help manage your reputation online. Here are a few that deserve another mention.
Google alerts is a ‘content change detection and notification service’ that is offered by Google.
It is one of the best tools that you can use to keep track of your brand name and mentions that you’re getting online.
Mention.com is an excellent tool to use for managing your brand, company, or even personal reputation.
This is a bigger service, and it costs a bit to use. But if your business is getting more attention online, and you are beginning to figure out that it is taking longer and longer to use free tools to check yourself, this can be an excellent way to pear down that time and make the process easier.
Research Yourself in Google
One of the best ways to figure out what your reputation looks like online is to do a simple Google search of yourself.
Try typing in your name, the name of your business, etc. Scan a few pages in, and see what comes up.
If you haven’t curated most of the content on the first two pages, you may want to put some effort into it and get it fixed up!
It is better for YOU to control what shows up on the first page of Google than to just leave it to chance!
How to Control Your Online Reputation and Make Your Audience Happy
A lot of this is common sense. But here are a few specific tips that you can make use of to take more direct control over what shows up when people search for your name on Google.
Be transparent and respond
When you respond to reviews, it is super important that you stay positive and transparent.
Always conduct yourself in a professional and non-confrontational manner. Be helpful. Be willing to do what it takes to see and correct mistakes.
Mistakes happen. But if you acknowledge them and let your customers know that you actually want to fix them, you may find yourself earning more loyal customers instead of ending up with angry ex-customers!
Plus, if you stay calm and collected about it, nobody will have any ammo to come back at you with to say that you weren’t professional, etc.
Incentivize your customers
There are all kinds of reasons to incentivize customers to leave a good review. You could even hold some kind of a contest, where you have your customers leave a good review for a chance to win a $50 gift card, or something like that!
You can also simply ask customers for reviews. If you get email addresses from your customers, you can just send them a quick message thanking them for their business.
Then, in the same email, you can ask them if they would be interested in leaving a quick review telling you about their experience.
Asking doesn’t hurt anything, and even if you only get a few reviews every month out of it, it is well worth it!
You can also let them know that if anything went wrong, or if they need help rectifying any situation, that they can reply to you directly to help get it sorted out.
This way, you might be able to get them to reply to you instead of going and burning you on a review site. Plus, this might just give them that nudge they needed to go add that five star review... based on your willingness to help them and giving them that opportunity to talk to you directly!
At the end of the day, it is really important to take control of negative press and reviews before they get out of hand. It is also really important to take a serious look at your online reputation on a regular basis, and to take a proactive approach to managing it before something bad happens.
And of course, if something does go wrong, it is super important to handle it with professionalism and transparency.
Your competitors may try to talk smack, and people may even make up stories about you. But it all comes down to being above all of that drama, and handling your business in a way that will show the rest of your tribe that you’ve got what it takes to earn the kind of reputation they can trust.
Remember how I told you that you would learn about the biggest tried-and-true method to make the ‘customer feedback mechanism’ work FOR you instead of AGAINST you?
Well, professionalism IS that method! Don’t get caught up in the drama. Be proactive, and handle the situations that do come up quickly and with care.
Hopefully, you can head off most of the bad before it even starts!
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Have you ever had a problem with negative reviews or feedback for your business? If so, drop in a comment and let me know how you handled it!
I always love answering your questions and hearing about your experiences.
See you on the next one!