The rapid growth of review sites and social media in recent years has had a major effect on the reputations of many businesses. These sites give your business more exposure than ever before, they allow new customers find you and old ones to criticise you.
The very thought of businesses appearing on review sites with people free to write what they like about them may be a terrifying prospect for most business owners. There is, however, a flip side. Consider how much new business could be sent your way from customer referrals and by developing a positive social media presence.
Many people think that by having a Facebook page or Twitter profile, they’re ‘doing social media’. They’re very much mistaken. Simply posting updates on Facebook, and Tweeting from time to time won’t cut it. You need to monitor the online conversation and actively engage with your customers.
Perform a vanity search now for your business and ask yourself: What’s the first impression of your business? If you were a prospective customer, would any of the reviews influence your purchasing decision? Try and see your business through the eyes of your customers.
Now that you’ve established how your brand is perceived, it’s time to engage with your customers. Here, your aim is to build a credible reputation. Don’t simply talk about how great your products are, your customer will see straight through this. It’s essential that you provide genuine value by contributing to the community and ultimately demonstrating why you’re an industry authority and why you should be trusted.
No business has an entirely satisfied customer base, so instead of waiting for negative comments to find you, take a proactive approach and ask your customers what you can do to improve. By being more transparent and more willing to take on board your customers suggestions, you’re far more likely to develop a trustworthy reputation.
Those businesses that actively give something back to their customers are shown to have a more positive brand image than those that don’t. If you’re considering launching a new product range or want to test the water with some new ideas, why not let some of your more active customers sample these products first? Actively involving your customers in the development process will do wonders for your brand image.
Finding a way to effectively manage your online reputation can make the difference between success and failure. There are a lot of opportunities out there for those willing to make the effort and those who make the effort are usually rewarded.