By Rieva Lesonsky
What’s the first thing you do when you want to learn about a new client or a new company? You go online, of course. That goes for your purchases too—whether you’re looking for reviews about new office equipment or for a good restaurant to take an important client, you want to check the business’s reputation in the community before you spend your hard-earned working capital. You know potential customers are checking your company out before they spend their money, but if you’re looking for seed capital or a small business loan, the potential investors and lenders are checking you out as well. So you need to manage your online reputation.
The sheer number of social networks, opinionated bloggers, and review and rating websites makes it easy for satisfied customers and clients to elevate your business’s reputation with praise—or bring business to a grinding halt with negative criticism. But how can you keep an eye on your online reputation when there are so many sites out there to keep track of?
There are several ways to stay on top of what is being said about your business online. The easiest way is to set up a Google Alert (www.google.com/alerts). Create an alert on your name, your business name or your product name, and Google scours the Web for mentions and sends you an email as often as you like when these names are mentioned. You can also set up an alert for your industry to keep up on trends; if you want to keep tabs on your competition, set up alerts for their business’s name as well.
- Another way to keep tabs on when someone makes a comment about you is to use an online service like Postling, which allows you to write a message once and have it post across all your social media platforms. Postling also offers a high-tech “clipping service,” and notifies businesses when comments about them appear online.
- If you specifically want to know what is being said about you on social media, 48ers searches multiple social media sites at once to give you the latest word on what is being said about your company.
- Finally, remember to regularly check review and ratings sites like Yelp.com to see what people think of your company, and be sure to respond immediately if someone has a complaint.
Providing excellent customer service is more important than ever, since one customer’s bad experience can go viral very quickly. Make sure your customers can easily contact you with problems or complaints. Your small business marketing team should not only offer your email, but a phone number and address as well on your website.
Once a negative comment has been made, always remember to answer your critics with facts and not emotions. Be respectful and by staying on top of what’s being said about you, you’ll keep your business’s reputation intact.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports