Today’s article is a guest post from Webs’ Head of Marketing, Rochelle Sanchirico.
We’re right in the middle of what will likely be a multi-year house renovation, so I spend a lot of time looking for and at small business reviews. As someone who has worked in the digital marketing space for a long time, I know that online reviews have tremendous power–to do both good and evil. While some of your more savvy customers and potential customers may know to apply a healthy amount of skepticism to the things that they read online, others may not have the same level of understanding. How can you make sure that the online reviews and discussions of your company are consistent with the brand that you’ve worked so hard to create over time?
First, do a quick assessment of what your brand’s reputation online is. This can be done in the “quick and dirty” way via searches in Yahoo, Bing or Google on your brand’s name (and location if you’re a local business) and then scroll all of the way through the results. Where are people commenting, and what are they saying? Is there one aspect of your business or services that receives high praise while others receive mostly criticism? This is a great way to find out what is important to your customers, and therefore should be a focus for improvement.
Second, know where online discussions that affect your brand are taking place, and engage in them as it’s appropriate. Platforms like Angie’s List allow for small businesses to address clients’ concerns directly–if you’ve worked hard to create a good experience with users, then express appreciation for strong reviews and address negative reviews head-on. This approach shows that you take your work–and your reputation–seriously, and that customers can expect good and consistent products and services. And if they don’t receive them, their concerns will be addressed.
Third, if you identify a major issue, it might be time to call in some professional backup. There are companies like Reputation.com and BrandYourself.com that specialize in managing false or misleading content online. Because your brand is the bedrock of your business, it is an important area of investment to ensure future success.
By just actively managing your online brand, you are taking a step in the right direction. These techniques can help you get even further in creating a match between your current brand perception and future brand aspirations.
About the Author: Rochelle Sanchirico is Head of Marketing at Webs, where she oversees all marketing, analytics, and customer support operations.