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Why Reputation Management Matters to Small Businesses

Stu Coston

Stu Coston

Co-founder

Years ago, small businesses survived with just a website and an email address for customer support.

But the rise of more and more communication platforms has led to a drastic change in the face of digital marketing. In this day and age, you need to adapt and adjust to consumer tech habits for your business to thrive.

The key takeaway: online reputation management (ORM) is becoming a more business-critical issue than ever before. And as a business owner in Little Rock, AR this means you have to keep a handle on different social networks and communication channels.

Succeeding at ORM, however, entails giving a human face to your brand and making it relatable to your target audience.

 

Do you run an amazing local business but just can’t figure out why you’re not getting as many new customers as you want?

This book outlines strategies you can implement to manage your online reputation and truly grow your online presence. In this free guide, we provide 5 steps for you to implement into your online reputation management strategy instantly.

Opening the Doors to Two-way Communication

Traditionally, entrepreneurs just depended on referrals for networking. Also called word of mouth, this marketing strategy involved satisfied customers giving their stamp of approval for a brand and telling other people how much they like their product or service.

As an unpaid form of promotion, word of mouth was essential to start-ups because it gave unbiased recommendations to potential customers.

Word of mouth may not be the primary marketing technique these days, but it is still an effective marketing tactic. Data show that it drives $6 trillion of consumer spending and accounts for an average of 13 percent of sales. On top of that, this form of advertising yields five times more sales than paid media.

Back then, word of mouth existed in a vacuum. But after the internet and social media marketing changed the name of the game, it spread like wildfire. These days, people don’t just tell their friends and family about a brand — they post about it online where their entire social network can see.

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Since the internet can open the door to two-way communication, customers now have the power to make or break your brand.

Proactively Crafting Brand Sentiment

Businesses in Little Rock, AR are no exception to this big change. Chief Data Officer of Walmart, Bill Groves, predicts that Northwest Arkansas is set to become a national hub for data science. With digital content at our fingertips, Groves says businesses are in the midst of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

This drastic change in the marketing landscape has given birth to ORM. Businesses use ORM to improve their brand image and defeat negative opinions with positive reviews.

ORM involves proactively crafting brand sentiment by monitoring, managing, and engaging with the online public perception of your brand.

Some people confuse ORM with social media monitoring, but the reality is it’s a lot broader than that. ORM means you take both positive and negative feedback then deal with them in a way that preserves your brand’s image.

A careful approach to negative reviews is critical because online reviews do not get lost in online noise. BrightLocal’s Consumer Survey in 2017 says otherwise.

Some relevant stats from the study include:

  • 86 percent of customers read reviews for local businesses
  • Customers read an average of 10 reviews before they feel safe about trusting a business
  • 57 percent of consumers only trust a business when it has a four- or five-star rating
  • 91 percent of customers between 18 to 34 years old trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

This goes to show that your business must have a strategy in place to encourage customers to provide feedback, monitor different review sites, and respond to positive and negative reviews professionally.

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Keeping a Handle on Your Online Reputation

ORM is a crucial part of your overall communications strategy. Digital marketing activities, like blogging and paid ads, can boost your brand image, but it only makes up a part of your strategy.

These marketing initiatives focus on adding content to your digital footprint. ORM, on the other hand, is a proactive effort that involves monitoring and responding to what customers say about your brand.

Arkansas Surgical Hospital (ASH), for instance, was able to triple its online review volume after embracing ORM. Its goal was to connect patients with orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at its facility. By monitoring reviews on third-party websites and encouraging patients to provide feedback, ASH able to secure its online presence for the hospital and each surgeon.

You can also do the same. In the process of interacting with your target audience, you can build relationships and focus on channels that send you the right visitors. Some benefits of a properly executed ORM strategy include:

  • Acquire new customers – Active participation in reputation management expands your brand reach across all platforms. With a positive reputation, you can attract new prospects to your business.
  • Retain satisfied customers – ORM is an effective platform for surprising and delighting loyal customers. Thank happy customers online and respond to negative content online to maintain a good first impression.
  • Provide timely customer support – Actively monitoring your brand’s ORM will open the doors to more customer support opportunities. Implement an ORM strategy that helps you track customer complaints on online platforms.
  • Do social media first aid – ORM can save your business when a crisis strikes. You can quickly find and address negative conversations online before they spiral out of control.

By keeping a handle on your online reputation, you can create a positive impact and safeguard the future of your business without resorting to drastic means.

 

Why Attack Sites are Ill-Advised

Embrace proactive measures instead of reactive strategies when keeping tabs on your reputation online.

Read about  How to Link Directly to Your Google My Business Review Form

Reputation repair hints a defensive approach, where your business displaces negative content by optimizing positive feedback. But some employ a more aggressive course through a counterattack campaign. And this involves using attack sites in reputation management to dissuade attackers from posting negative messages online.

Going on the offensive may seem like an attractive option for some. After all, a reputation-destruction campaign is a lot easier than repairing a reputation.

A common example of a reputation counterattack website is PETAKillsAnimals.com, launched by the Center for Consumer Freedom, reportedly a front for public affairs firm Berman and Company. The website alleged that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization is a terrorist group that unnecessarily euthanizes animals.

But the strategy was nothing more than an ad hominem attack. In a debate, this means falling short of presenting clear and persuasive points. And without serious “dirt” on your attackers, you could easily slip into legal risks including harassment, invasion of privacy, and defamation.

The real ORM pros mitigate the damage and refrain from tearing their opponents down, no matter the reason.

ORM done right means keeping your company in tune with what customers are saying about your brand and turning those conversations into opportunities. And in turn, these shared media activities can help boost sales, customer satisfaction, brand perception, and more.

Take control over online conversations about your brand. Partner with Goby Creative for your reputation management needs. Our ORM software allows you to build your online presence and keep your stream full of positive sentiments.

Contact us today to get started.

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