“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time no doubt you are already aware of the importance of smart search engine optimisation (SEO) in getting your Redcliffe small business seen and heard online and bringing in new sales. But the higher profile you are the more they talk about you – if your business becomes the STAR in a particular area then people like to chat about the STARS. How do you monitor your brand and manage your reputation successfully?
While reputation management may come at the latter end of your initial SEO efforts it should be considered an integral part of it. It is about managing the information that customers read, write or say about you online, so this can start at any time that you and your products or services become visible.
Right now on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Blogger etc people could easily be commenting on your brand or your products.
In the past, larger companies have been the only ones with the resources to manage the process and they allocated plentiful funds to keeping the message on a positive “spin” for their brand on TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines. The effect was expensive and short-lasting.
Nowadays, however, any business with an online presence can help keep the message positive and it need hardly cost a cent. We are not talking about PR or “spin”, as much of this can mislead your potential buyers, but about engaging with the customers on their terms; now what does that actually mean?
It essentially means that, if they are talking about your brand, then firstly make sure you know about it and where it’s happening and secondly make sure you talk to them and get involved in the conversation.
To take the first of these – knowing who’s talking, where they’re talking and what they’re saying – you need to employ some monitoring software like Google Alerts, Social Mention or Viral Heat. These are just a few of the growing number of programs that help you monitor web and blog comments and news, as well as Twitter and Facebook posts; these are becoming more and more sophisticated, with writer sentiment being interpreted now too.
If people want to discuss your business on Facebook then that’s where you should discuss it – and that’s what we mean by “engaging on their terms”; the same as in the past the norm was to pick up the phone or pay a visit to speak to the boss, now the norm is email and social media comments and business leaders need to get used to that, as it’s not going away.
Google have recently started including social media comments from searchers’ friends in search results for products …so if Auntie Vera commented on Twitter last month about a lovely Sushi restaurant she went to in Redcliffe and you search for “sushi restaurant Redcliffe”, Auntie Vera’s comment will come up. If you’re the owner of that sushi restaurant you want to know how you can get more comments like Auntie Vera’s driving customers to your business!
The great advantage to a business that manages their reputation well is that, by engaging with your customers in this way, you will create a culture of care in your company – and this will be seen by the readers and viewers online and enhance your company’s reputation, even if some original customer comments about your business were not positive.
We will talk about the importance of customer service in another blog post but for now, it’s suffice to say that, for a small business in Redcliffe, it’s important that you do everything you can to ensure your message is getting across and being understood how you would like it to be…and monitoring that process.
What are some of the ways that you are keeping an ear out online for what people are saying about your business?