If you’re a small business owner that posts about your brand online, you need to pay close attention to what audiences are saying in order to gauge your professional reputation. Many entrepreneurs already recognise the corporate importance of the internet, and 88% of small businesses are monitoring their online reputation at least quarterly, according to research by Clutch.
If you’re not already keeping an eye on how people respond to your business, you might wonder how to do this, or even why it’s important. Managing your online reputation is crucial to securing new business, as more people than ever rely on online research before making any purchases—even when shopping. If your brand is seen in a negative light online, this could dissuade prospective customers from purchasing from you, and actively steer them towards competitors instead.
Staying vigilant about your online reputation allows you to do any necessary damage control sooner rather than later. It can also give you a good idea of how well your business is performing.
Keep track of review platforms
Customer review platforms are one of the easiest and most useful ways to track how the public feels about your brand reputation, and contribute to any improvements you need to make to its customer service. Any neutral or negative reviews will highlight any areas that need refining, while letting you resolve any issues raised by unsatisfied customers.
According to the customer review site, Trustpilot, over a quarter of consumers view responding to negative reviews as an important business strategy. The platform makes it simple for businesses to publicly respond to any unhappy experiences or queries, boosting transparency between brand, consumer, and any potential customers. Lotto Social, for example, uses Trustpilot to publicly respond to reviews, explaining in detail how their products work, and highlighting special deals to both negative and positive reviewers.
Set up Google Alerts
Google is most people’s go-to way to search for anything—including the reputation of a brand or business. So it makes sense to harness that power and set up a Google Alert for your own company. This notifies you every time your brand is mentioned anywhere on the internet, letting you immediately see what is being said about you online. You can even do the same for your competitors, and your industry in general, which can directly influence your marketing strategy by giving you an idea of what and what not to do.
Google Alerts also allows you to spot any negative online comments before they spread and become potentially worse. If you can target any bad press quickly, you’re more likely to resolve it, which can boost customer service. Perhaps the best part is that it’s free to use, so won’t cut into your marketing budget.
Track social media
Social media is ideal for keeping on top of your brand reputation, and ensuring that people are drawn to your business for the right reasons. According to research, 71% of consumers who had a positive online experience with a brand were likely to recommend that business to their peers. And while you can easily interact with those who have directly mentioned you or replied to your messages, it’s equally important to keep a lookout for the posts that haven’t tagged you.
According to research by Marketing Land, only 3% of tweets regarding customer service issues make use of the brand’s handle, so it can be all too easy to miss some of the posts about your business. While Google Alerts can help you to pick up on this, it’s still best to check social media platforms specifically, in case your alerts overlook anything. Follow the relevant hashtags and search options for your brand, or use an app like Social Searcher, which gives you a reading of users’ average sentiment, letting you see the general online attitude towards your brand at a glance.
Monitor competitors and industry keywords
While you may think it’s unnecessary to track your competitors when managing your own reputation, it’s actually quite useful. Sometimes, a damaging reputation may not be focused on your brand specifically, but the industry as a whole, so it would make sense for you to keep track of what’s being said about rival brands too.
Tracking keywords which are relevant to your sector is one of the easiest ways to do this. If, for example, there was something negative being said about the industry, you could put a preventative plan in place before it impacts your business. Understanding the trends surrounding your industry allows you to make informed decisions about the future of your business, so you’re not left facing nasty surprises, or a much more significant PR issue.