In a world seemingly dominated by faceless online businesses with low prices, how much does your online reputation matter?
If you’re a small business owner, chances are that you’re intimately familiar with the concept of reputation. Most notably, people running brick-and-mortar businesses know exactly how much each customer’s opinion of their business matters.
But, reputation is always important, and your online reputation could make or break your business.
So, how do you develop your online reputation in the digital marketing world? Let’s take a look at the three building blocks of any successful online reputation and learn about how your small business can become an online authority.
Right off the bat, recognize that Not all content is created equal, and the most effective first step to becoming an online authority is creating great content.
Gone are the days when a catchy jingle alone could draw in customers. Now, consumers expect a certain level of effort to be put into any content they consume, especially if it’s designed to turn them into paying customers.
The paradoxical nature of content creation as it relates to digital marketing is that while you’re creating content with the hope that it will eventually help convert, the best content is rarely created with that in mind.
Many small businesses create this content through blog posts -- that’s right, having a blog is back in style again. Believe it or not, some of the most trusted brands in the digital marketing landscape religiously publish content on their own blogs.
What’s so great about a blog? Search engines love them, for starters. Plus, having a blog gives you a dedicated hub that your audience can visit at any time to consume your content.
Something important to keep in mind is that producing blog posts means that you’ll have the opportunity to provide your audience with solutions to some of their problems. Resist the urge to create shallow content that exists solely to promote your own business; providing readers with tangible, actionable solutions to relevant issues can boost your reputation.
There are a few factors to consider when it comes to social media marketing. First, your reputation relies on your activity on any given social media platform: It’s hard for your audience to care about your social media accounts if you’re not using them.
But that’s just the beginning. If you want to turn your business into an online authority, you’ll need to be ahead of the competition when it comes to social. That means having a consistent posting schedule, using a variety of different social media platforms and, most importantly, actually engaging with your audience.
Engagement is one of the biggest hurdles for small business owners, for the simple reason that they’ve been taught to approach social media from a very corporate perspective. While your overarching ideology should certainly be professional, you shouldn’t be afraid to inject a bit of humanity into your social media accounts. Truth be told, certain platforms like Twitter and Snapchat revolve around figuratively taking off your tie and just chatting with people.
Social media, as a concept, works best when it’s simply two people having a conversation. That being said, we can’t deny the simple fact that you’re looking to do business with your audience. But just because you’re hoping to eventually convert them doesn’t mean you should ditch your humanity. Remain professional, but don’t suck the social out of social media. If you’re going to do that, you may as well pay for a TV commercial.
Reviews and public perception
This is easily the most abstract and complex aspect of managing your online reputation. That being said, it’s also one of the most important. If you’re not familiar with the world of digital marketing, there’s a chance you don’t think that online reviews are all that important.
But, ever since Google decided that online reviews mattered, they’ve been a major factor in determining the online reputation of a business.
Digital word of mouth is one of the most persuasive forms of marketing to the modern consumer, and it tends to be a massive aspect of the decision-making process for the average person. Even if you’re the cheapest vendor by far, a few negative reviews can have a frightening effect on your sales. Why? Because people trust other people. And, if an unbiased third party tells someone your business is not to be trusted, then you’d better believe people are going to have some reservations.
How do you ensure people say good things about your business? Right off the bat, have a solid product/service. If every single negative review mentions one specific aspect of your business, it might be time to self-audit a bit.
Beyond that, be proactive about pursuing reviews. For better or worse, most people will only leave a review of their own accord if they have something negative to say. But, if you can convince 10 people who had fantastic experiences to leave reviews, your overall online reputation won’t take such a massive hit after a negative review.
Speaking of negative reviews/negative comments, whatever you do, don’t ignore them. While some might just be unintelligible anger (which does seem to happen from time to time), most negative comments originate from a miscommunication. Addressing the concern and attempting to remedy the situation can mean the difference between losing a customer forever and gaining a customer for life.
If you’re not used to the world of online reputation management and digital media marketing seems intimidating to you, you’re not alone. Plenty of small business owners are reading articles like these, trying to wrap their heads around these concepts and wondering how their own experience with a brick-and-mortar location will translate into a digital media marketing strategy.
The important thing to remember is that while the techniques might be different, the ideology is the same. Take care of your reputation by putting an emphasis on providing a fantastic customer experience.Once you’ve got that down, the rest is just a matter using the right tools and tactics.
Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.