Digital presence is very important these days. This is an undeniable fact. Digital, as any other physical or virtual space, has its own set of rules about what’s acceptable and unacceptable to do in the community. Yet, some businesses still manage to do lots of mistakes that take them out of the race before it even started. So, how do you put your best foot forward in this competitive space?
Work on your presentation
First things first: optimize your business profile for each specific network. Ensure everything is correct and links are working. It gets very annoying when a link on official Facebook page appears broken and sends people off straight to 404 page. It also looks bad when a business could not spend thre minutes of their time to upload a profile image and all we have left to enjoy is the Twitter egg picture. This all gives of a sense of carelessness and you don’t want your professional presentation to give off that vibe.
Be consistent in your messages. Your overall messaging and image is very important, so consistency is the key. People should know what your brand stands for and what to expect from your brand in the future. If you’re confused on your brand’s identity, chances are your customers will be too. People are on social media to be educated or entertained, not waste their time trying to figure out what your messaging is about.
Create consistency in everything, including your posting. Find a social posting schedule that works, but don’t overdo it. It will also depend on your company and the type of content you share. Nobody wants to see 10 self-promotional posts a day. Spend some time crafting your message like you would with any other professional pitch — focus on benefits to them, not you.
Google your company and take control of business pages
See what pops up on the first page. It’s great if all of the first page of the search results are owned by your channels.
See if there are any review sites popping up and if so, what is your overall rating on that website? Claim business pages on any review sites that already created an automatic page for you. Make sure it’s complete and address, phone number, website, business hours and all that jazz are correct. Ensure that you’re using a consistent header image for all of your digital presence.
See if any unwanted media shows up (impersonators, bad reviews, other brands with similar name, etc.) Clean up all of the impersonators by reporting them to administrators of those websites.
Be humble and acknowledge your followers
If a follower and/or a customer compliments your business on something, politely thank them and show your appreciation of their attention. No need to show off and brag about it. Nobody cares about how much money was spent on that clever ad or how long you’ve been working on a new product or any of that staff. Hard work and motivation will show through and speak louder than words.
Respond in a professional manner
Sometimes your business can become a target of hateful speech, spam or unsatisfied customers. Resist the urge and remember that you represent a business and you need to follow the social media etiquette (and just any type of etiquette). Don’t reply right away, give it an hour or two; think of a good, professional response, draft it a few times and let someone else read it again. The negativity will rub off on your business and hurt your reputation, not the reviewer’s.
However, if a negative review is legitimate and there was a fault on your side, acknowledge and apologize. Better yet, take the resolution offline.
Respond to questions and reviews
When your followers ask you questions, reply to them. If you don’t know the answer or are uncomfortable with making comments on a subject, find a few good links to point people in the right direction. This will show that you care and try your best to assist your followers.
Review sites are another thing that gives marketers headache and constant struggle on how to manage reputation online. There are so many of them; and they’re all different. Some provide check-in incentives, some require a lengthy verification process, some decide on what gets shown to the public. The list goes on and on.
Once you manage these pages, you’ll be able to respond and flag incoming reviews. Reply to every single review -- in timely and correct manner! Business responsiveness to issues builds trust, because potential customers will see that you care about your current customers.
Check your sources
If you do post a third-party research or opinion, check your sources. You want your sources to be accurate, credible, up-to-date, and intelligent. If some obscure blogger with 3 followers said something you agree with, it’s not a credible source and probably more research should be done before sharing it with your audience.
Take it offline
A great strategy is to take negative conversation off of the web. Provide them with a phone or email to contact you and discuss the matter in private.
Getting into fight in the digital space will ruin your reputation, not the reviewer’s, so remember that and be as polite as possible. Start by posting a detailed private message and a short public message to show other reviewers that you took care of the situation in private.
A lot of times customers will delete or update their reviews with improved star ratings as a way to thank you for taking the time to resolve their issue. Don’t hesitate to ask for it in cases you really feel like you’ve helped and the customer is happy, but be careful as to not push it too far.
Most of the times, customers who have been helped to a happy resolution, change their review themselves because they don’t want to hurt your business.
Use these reviews to your advantage
Review sites are a great way to build social proof for your business. A lot of review sites have a feature that allows you to embed a little widget on your website with your reviews. This might be a great way to showcase your business’ amazing testimonials on your website and remind people that they can leave you a review.
Also a great way to use review sites to your benefit is to encourage image sharing, so that you will have an extensive library of user-generated content that will add that much more credibility to you.
After all, managing online reputation is that not difficult if you put just a bit of thought into it and use basic manners.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.