It is common for consumers to want to do business with a company human-rates they can trust. Can they trust your business? Believe it or not, many businesses do not think the use of an online reputation is very important. This is a mistake because business can quickly be lost, the minute a few negative reviews get posted online. Small businesses must protect their online reputation now more than ever with popularity growing among sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. Know Customer Behavior Consumers frequently conduct their research online before making a decision to purchase or use a service. It often only takes a couple of negative reviews or comments for a consumer to start looking elsewhere. This common social behavior means small businesses need to proactively monitor their online presence. Although the thought of keeping up with several social media websites and profiles can be discouraging for a novice, there is yet hope. Software, available in both free and premium versions, can help reduce the amount of time spent monitoring social media sites. Google Is Your Friend Either on a daily or weekly basis, small businesses should perform a search for their company name in order to keep up with the status of their internet reputation. Google searches will quickly discover what is being said about the small business. If small business owners do not have time to perform searches this often, they can simply set up Google Alerts. That way, each time their company is mentioned, they will receive an email alert. Develop a Positive Presence In addition to having a regularly updated website, a well-rounded presence on large social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook is also helpful. Social media is typically used to stay connected with current clients, engage potential customers and regularly promote a positive business message. It also provides an opportunity to address complaints in a more timely fashion. Work to Improve Your Image It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove negative information from the internet. However, it is possible to bury those negative reviews. Since most people don't look past the first page or two of search results, it is possible to create a number of high-ranking articles that push those negative ones further down. While it's still possible they will be found, it is highly unlikely that anyone will notice. Remain Professional Receiving complaints, negative reviews, and negative comments is par for the course for small businesses. However, how customers are dealt with sets the tone for what others can expect. Reacting negatively to a customer complaint is one of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can commit. Rather than reacting in anger, especially if the individual is factually incorrect, business owners must remain professional. The Bottom Line Small businesses need to monitor the online conversation regarding their brand, no matter how nervous it may make the owner. Though some people feel any reputation is better than none, a positive one usually attracts more business.
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