Dos and Don’ts of Online Reputation Management

As the adage goes, you can’t please everybody. Even huge corporations like McDonalds and Nike can’t. And it is not likely your business can, either.

Even if you’ve given it all you’ve got, chances are a small minority of your customers will still not be happy with your products or services.

While you may not be able to change how they feel about your services, you can take action to protect your online reputation and avoid hurting or ruining your business. In this day and age of the Internet, word of mouth spreads in the blink of an eye and there is no IQ test requirement to post content.

The key is to take action before someone decides to go online to share with the world their criticisms of your company. If you wait it out too long or ignore the situation altogether, not only could your online reputation be damaged but you might also find it difficult to recover and move forward.

Here are some dos and don’ts to get this under control.

Reputation Management Dos

  • Be active online. If you only have 1 listing on Google for your website, the 2nd listing could be negative content.
  • Register your website on applicable search engines, online business directories, and social media. Populate the profiles with quality content using your researched keywords.
  • Publish high-quality and relevant content on a regular basis. A simple plan:
    • Set up a blog on your website.
    • Research, write, and publish high-quality articles on your blog. Include an interesting picture with each post.
    • Post a summary to your social media accounts with a link back to your website for the full article.
    • Create a monthly newsletter using blog excerpts—again, with links back to your website.
  • Ask for testimonials (success stories) as a routine action. Happy customers are very likely pleased enough to give you a good review. Give your customers directions on how and where to post the review, e.g. Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.
  • Reinforce positive feedback and commentary. Give importance to the positive reviews. Publish them on your website on a testimonials page.
  • Address negative reviews. If your business made an error, offer to make it up to the customer. Offer returns and refunds.
  • Set up a place for complaints. If a complainer can’t find a simple way to contact you, you are driving them to a review site which is not under your control. Make sure there’s a specific section on your website where unsatisfied clients can use contact forms to raise complaints or bring up any issues they may have with your products or services. Respond appropriately and politely to the messages, even to those that sound ridiculous or have no basis. Do this in a timely manner and, when necessary, offer ways to make it up to them or present solutions that may help.

Reputation Management Don’ts

  • Don’t wait. It takes time to populate the web with positive content, which in turn minimizes the impact of potential future negative content.
  • Don’t ignore negative reviews. Or this might just blow up in your face one day, when it’s too late to do damage control. So respond to negative feedback accordingly and promptly, including those that seem to be baseless. Let the person who made the comment or issued the complaint know that you’ve taken note of the problem they encountered and are doing something about it.
  • Don’t let your emotions get in the way. It’s natural to get frustrated or angry when people bash you or the company that you’ve worked so hard to build. Just state the facts—never respond in a rude or sarcastic manner, as that will just continue the negative discourse. Stay professional and be cordial.

When you’ve come a long way from starting your business and it is growing, a single negative review, if ignored, could hurt your reputation. So be proactive. Acknowledge and address each complaint, and try to sort out the problem as quickly as you can.

Your online reputation is a business asset—treat it accordingly.