We now live in a world where people are constantly sharing their thoughts and opinions about anything and everything. As a company, this can be a curse or a blessing. A few mentions on social media or some online reviews or blog posts about your company can greatly improve your image — or may very well tarnish it.
So, how can you make the best of this and ensure that your brand’s reputation does indeed flourish? How can you handle criticism and negative reviews and still keep your company’s reputation intact? Just as job candidates need to keep a close eye on their online reputation, especially on social networks, companies should invest enough resources to managing their own reputation.
The cost of a poor online reputation should never be underestimated. People will talk about your company, it’s a given. How your company reacts to those mentions is crucial. Let’s have a look at a few tips and tricks as well as some tools that can help you do just that.
How To Assess Your Online Reputation
Obviously a good portion of your website traffic will come from search engines like Google, Yahoo! or Bing. The first step to asses your brand’s reputation is to search for your company name, brand, products, and even employee names on those search engines. Luckily you’ll find mostly positive information, but in order to get a better picture it’s always a good idea to look past the first few pages of search results.
Once you’ve run your brand’s name and various products through search engines, it’s time to hit social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. The more platforms you search the better. Again, you can perform similar searches on those websites as you did via search engines. While you may get similar results as you did on search engines, social media platforms can give you many more insights into what your customers think of your company.
Review sites are another great source of information. Sites such as Yelp and Amazon allow users to leave product and service reviews for all the world to see. Many online shoppers use those platforms to read real-world reviews about products or services before purchasing or inquiring about them. Yelp is particularly useful if your business operates locally as it categorizes organizations by location and verticals.
Social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit or Delicious are other fine sources of information. Some of those communities are more vocal than others, but finding content about your company may require more work as searching for reviews is not their primary focus.
Another great source of information is Quora — a social platform where users can ask questions about anything and get answers from the community. You’d be surprised to know that many brands use Quora to improve their reputation by answering questions and being active on the site.
Don’t forget to look up industry forums and groups as well as blogs. A single bad review on an industry-leading blog can definitely hurt your reputation. Once you’ve properly assessed your company’s online reputation, it is time to take action!
How To Improve Your Online Reputation (and attract qualified employees in the process)
Whether your reputation assessment is positive or negative, it’s of utmost importance that your company keeps a strong presence on social media and improves search engine rankings with a solid SEO strategy.
If you don’t currently utilize platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate your company’s mission, recent news, and interact with customers, you may be missing out and letting your competitors get ahead.
Many companies have entire teams dedicated to managing their online reputation by engaging users via social platforms, relevant online communities and groups, and replying to reviews about their products and services. Obviously the resources you dedicate to online reputation management greatly depend on the size of your business.
A great online image is not only good for business, it is mandatory in order to attract and retain qualified workers. Remember that while you research candidates during the recruiting process, applicants also research your company. Online reputation works both ways.
What Tools Can You Use To Manage Your Reputation?
There is a plethora of great tools out there. As with anything, it’s a matter of trying out a few and see which ones work best for your organization.
- Google Alerts monitors the web for content relevant to the terms you’ve set in your “alert” and Google will email you when they find content relevant to your search terms. This free tool is a godsend and can help you stay on top.
- Reputation.com offers a complete suite of services to help you monitor and improve your online reputation — whether it’s for personal use or for your business. They can help fix negative search results, find your “online reputation score” and track & analyze your business’s online reputation.
- Making a great first impressions is key and BrandYourself can help you do just that. They can design a custom strategy for your company, or you can use their DIY tools.
- Ever wanted to search multiple blogs, networks and websites for your company name or brand? SocialMention is a free tool that does just that. It also provides a “sentiment score” that can be rather useful in giving you a bird’s-eye view of what the internet thinks of your company.
- Rankur is a popular service that help individuals as well as companies monitor online reviews, blogs, news, forums and social networks. Their tool performs text analysis and extracts sentiment, as well as opinions to measure the quantity and quality of the conversations about your brand.
- BrandsEye is another powerful tool that monitors and tracks online conversations. Interested in knowing more about your competitors? Need to know where online conversations are coming from? BrandsEye might be the tool for you.
Of course there are more tools that can help you manage your online reputation — Naymz and Trackur are great alternatives. Again, some tools may work better than others depending on your situation, requirements and budget.
Online reputation matters. How your company reacts to criticism and reviews, and how you interact with users and potential customers online can help your business stand out from the rest — in a very positive way!