Online reputation management is some thing that many entrepreneurs don’t think about until a problem presents itself. It’s one of those “preventative” or “protective” measures that most people underestimate until s*** hits the fan. Then, when something comes up (a negative blog post about their product, a negative review, a negative video, or a public complaint), then they’re spinning their wheels, trying to figure out what to do.
A good reputation is not easy to build, but when you think about it, reputation plays a huge role in separating generic brands from industry leaders and even gives them huge pricing flexibility. A good reputation is a highly valuable asset, but it takes time and lots of hard work to build trust where people perceive your company as reliable and trustworthy.
When you’re building your reputation, it’s equally important to grow the visibility thru marketing as it is to guard your brand perception. Online reputation management is how you protect your hard work from being crushed. Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Online reputation management is better enacted before anything happens, which is why I’m writing this online reputation management guide, so you can start to think about how to manage your reputation proactively.
But, if you’ve already found yourself in the pothole with a complaint or negative review, I’ll briefly go over how to handle that also. Let’s get started…
- 1 My Freelance Story
- 2 Own Your Own Website
- 3 Own Domains With Your Brand Name
- 4 Online Reputation Management Guide | Submit Your Information to Business Directories
- 5 Online Reputation Management Guide | Guest Post
- 6 Find Places Where Your Expertise Can Be Helpful
- 7 Maintain a Good Client Fulfillment System and Customer Service
- 8 Online Reputation Management Guide | Get Reviews
- 9 Set up Alerts About Your Brand
- 10 Respond to Negative Reviews
- 11 Final Words on this Online Reputation Management Guide and Dealing with Negative Reviews
- 12 Now, it’s Your Turn…
A while back, I worked as a freelance marketing consultant for an online business. They were a startup with a sizeable marketing budget.
They were passionate about their mission and excited to ramp things up, so they appropriated the majority of their marketing budget on paid advertising and hiring freelance digital marketers (like myself).
As a result, they were gaining massive visibility. We had a good team. One person focused on PR, one on Social media, one on paid ads, and one on growing the affiliate program.
As far as growing the visibility, they had a good plan. Unfortunately, they underestimated how the growth in visibility would also influence the amount of customer support that would be needed, and they hadn’t appointed anyone to fill the role. When this was brought to their attention, they decided to have each of the marketers divide their primary tasks with customer support, but all of the people had other tasks assigned and customer support seemed to be the “secondary work”.
As a result, when people needed help unsubscribing from their monthly subscription or had a technical issue, there was a delay to respond to their inquiry, and customers were getting upset. There was a bottleneck. The in-house team all felt stretched thin by the tasks required in-house, and the customers needed help, but no one was solely appointed for that. Customer inquiries piled up and a backlog was built.
It wasn’t the owners intention to deliver a bad service, but they weren’t reacting to the growth pains of their business fast enough and negative reviews started pouring in: BBB complaints, negative posts on social media, and negative blog posts from affiliates. It was a mess and it saddened the owners because they were on their startup learning curve.
They were at a breaking point. If they didn’t turn the tide of where their reputation was going, they could lose lots more business, and even shut down.
There was quite a few things they had to fix, and frankly, they may still be working on them. Here’s a list of things that need to be in order to sustain a good reputation online…
Own Your Own Website
Digital property and physical property have a lot in common. When you rent a house, there’s limits to what you can and cannot do. When you own the house, you still have to be submitted to governmental authorities, but there’s much less rules as a homeowner than as a renter.
Similarly, when you “rent” space on someone else’s domain to plant your website, there’s an inherrent risk. There’s rules, regulations, and requirements that may not always be congruent with what you want to do with your business.
As a business owner, it’s best to avoid the risk of placing your best content on “rented” land and pay for your own website and host it. I recommend avoiding sites like Wix, WordPress.com, Blogger, or other sites that give you a subdomain. Instead, the most versatile option I recommend is to create a WordPress website on Siterubix hosting.
Own Domains With Your Brand Name
Depending on where you see your business growing, you may find it’s important to make sure no one else can use your brand name. Companies like Walmart, Nike, Target, and others don’t want competitors with the same name. Smaller businesses often pick names that others have, but don’t have a problem because each focuses on a small geographic region. For example: You can find several churches named “Church of Christ” or several local retail stores named “Corner Store”.
You decide whether other companies having the same brand name will negatively influence your business, and if so, buy the domains with your brand in it. You’d probably want to buy the .com, .org, .net, .co., .biz, and possibly others.
Online Reputation Management Guide | Submit Your Information to Business Directories
While Google is the main source of referral traffic, there’s several directories that also refer traffic. Added onto traffic generations, many of the business directories is where people post information that can impact your reputation.
You want to make sure the information about your business is accurate, and that any concerns or feedback given about your business is addressed. As an added benefit, adding your business to online directories also boosts SEO. If you’d like to get started submitting your information to business directories, we recommend the training for Local Businesses within the premium membership at Wealthy Affiliate. It’s probably 5+ hours packed full of information on how to get more traffic and manage your reputation online.
If you’d like to focus on your primary business and let someone else do the legwork of submitting your information to local directories, check out our recommended local directory submission service HERE or our recommended Google My Business Setup Service HERE.
Online Reputation Management Guide | Guest Post
When you’re offline, you build professional credibility by speaking at industry events, writing for niche-specific periodicals, and being helpful where others in your industry gather. With time and persistence, you gain traction, and people begin to notice you.
Online, it works similarly, but your efforts are done virtually. Online, the gatherings are on blogs, forums, social media, or bookmarking sites. Guest posting is one major way you can help others that may not know you, and often times, providing good advice to a new niche sends a trail of people following you to your website.
Find Places Where Your Expertise Can Be Helpful
Added onto blogs, there’s other places where people gather and you can network and build a reputation for your company. Some of these places include:
Quora is a very cool platform that I’ve been playig around with lately. When you go onto Quora, it asks you about subjects you know about and are interested in, then it builds out a dashboard or “wall” for you. On the wall, people ask questions that require your expertise, and you can choose which questions you want to answer.
As you can see, I’m in the middle of answering a question in the image above. Interacting and answering questions on Quora helps build relationships, and brings people back to your site.
Social media groups
Similarly, interacting in social media groups can also help build a positive reputation and build business. There, you can find people with problems and use your expertise to help them solve their problem, or you can find others who are trying to grow their businesses and exchange favors (shares, pins, comments, etc.).
Unfortunately with free networking opportunities, you’ll have to filter thru things much more. Often times, the people have mentality issues that limit them from investing in their businesses. It’s good to get around people who take their businesses serious.
Price is often times a gate that separates the serious from the not-so-serious entrepreneurs, so don’t shy away from paid opportunities. Similar to what you can get from joining a community center, the Chamber of Commerce, or a professional networking group, online communities can be a source of encouragement, collaboration, new ideas, business, affiliate referrals, and somuch more!
3 Online Communities I recommend are:
1. Wealthy Affiliate
If you’re looking for a community of people who are focused on making money online (as you are), then Wealthy Affiliate is the #1 community I recommend you to be a part of. There’s live and recorded training, members can contribute to the training library so it’s continuously growing, the Sitefeedback and SiteComments features enables you to get feedback and comments from other members, there’s 24/7 support where you can get answers to questions you might have, and there’s 1M+ entrepreneurs who are highly engaged and helping one another out.
The platform serves as a training platform and a social networking platform. You can read blog posts about success, failure, motivation, and other things from other members. You can also network, get ideas, exchange feedback, and build a reputation.
The greatest part is you can try it out for free by setting up a lifetime free account, but the premium membership for $359 has more training, networking, and support options. CREATE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT AND CHECK IT OUT!
Fizzle.co is a community of online entrepreneurs that was started by Corbett Barr and Chase Reeves. They offer a training roadmap to help you get from concept to growing online business and many interviews with successful online entrepreneurs to keep you motivated. The training is high quality and their community is also nice.
3. Billionaire Blog Club recently renamed Dare to Conquer
A community that’s currently targeting bloggers is the Billionaire Blog Club founded by Paul Scrivs. He’s created training on SEO, Pinterest Marketing, Content Creation, and many other subjects, One nice thing about the community at BBC is there’s three components: the cliques where you network with entrepreneurs in your niche, the Exchange where you exchange favors for other bloggers, and the SLACK community where you can talk to others of various niches. BBC is also a very active community for networking and building a positive reputation online.
Forums often have like-minded people who gather to ask questions, discuss problems, and offer solutions to one another. If you can find forums where you’re target audience would be, you can consult with them, see what their concerns are, and share your expertise to help them out. By helping, you build trust and a reputation.
Maintain a Good Client Fulfillment System and Customer Service
Going back to my story with my freelance client…
The primary problem was the client fulfillment system. They created a product that was gaining a lot of visibility and traction, but there was no customer support to answer questions or provide help. The lack of customer support was quickly creating an illusory reputation as scammers simply because of an oversight on the part of the founding team. They didn’t realize the importance of building the customer support team as they were scaling the marketing.
It’s important as you’re starting and growing your business that you consider what it will take to keep your customers satisfied. From time to time, you want to sit down and do customer journey mapping to identify potential pain points in your processes, and how you can resolve them.
Customer satisfaction is the basis of a solid and longstanding reputation.
Online Reputation Management Guide | Get Reviews
When you’ve put in the work to create sound processes and satisfied your clients, it’s important to have them write honest reviews about their experiences. Often times, people will take the time to write negative reviews, but may not write a positive one unless their reminded. The unfortunate thing about people’s tendency to write negative reviews over positive ones is…
Sometimes several satisfied customers will proceed one dissatisfied customer, and the negative review will mislead others about the quality of your product or service. Initiate conversations about how important reviews are to your company. Ask for reviews. Give incentives for reviews, and let customers get a balanced perspective of your brand: good and bad.
Set up Alerts About Your Brand
Thru Google Alerts, you can create alerts about nearly anything you want. It enables you to be notified when something is published online under certain keyword phrases, so you can respond. To monitor your reputation, you’d want to set an alert for your brand name, possibly company head names, and other correlating keywords.
Respond to Negative Reviews
You may be doing many things to maintain a positive reputation, but a negative review still pops up. It happens. You can’t satisfy everybody, mistakes happen, and negative reviews could be an opportunity to hear some much-needed feedback.
When you’ve received a complaint or negative review, it’s likely public and has the potential of creating a negative image of your company or a positive one. In my post How To Build a Reputation, I talk about 10 strategies to build a reputation. Each situation is subjective so you won’t handle each negative review the same, but here are a few options from that article on how to deal with negative reviews.
- Turn negativity into a positive by addressing the negative review head on. If you’re firm on a stance that someone else disagrees with, it’s okay to turn the negative review into an opportunity to illustrate why you still stand firm on an opposing view. In some circumstances approaching the negative review head on can be appropriate, and may even create a stronger reputation.
- Offer to resolve the dispute in private
- Offer to refund their money or their loss
- Respond courteously with an apology and acknowledge that you’re using their review to improve the service
- Try to be as ethical as possible
If you’d like to read more on building a reputation, CHECK THAT ARTICLE OUT HERE.
Final Words on this Online Reputation Management Guide and Dealing with Negative Reviews
The goal of this article was to give you an online reputation management guide to reference when you want to grow your brand in a positive way. There’s much more to discuss in this topic, so if you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
If you see the need for reputation management, but you’re unsure where to start or what to do, check out our #1 recommended marketing agency FOR REPUTATION MANAGEMENT. SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION and get a free consultation!
If you liked what you saw here and you’d like a DIY solution to start or scale a business online CLICK HERE AND CREATE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT! Get two free websites, ten free training lessons, and access to a community of 1 million+ entrepreneurs (many who are making major things happen online!). CREATE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT NOW!
Now, it’s Your Turn…
Have you been actively managing your reputation online? Why or why not? If you have, what’s working for you? Leave your comments below.