As a small business owner, your ultimate goal at the end of each and every day is to make money.
So, what happens when that objective potentially hits a roadblock, that is when a customer, employee or competitor starts spreading some not-so-kind comments about you or your business online?
Can the revenue stream that you have worked so hard to build suddenly begin to dry up? With more and more consumers turning to the Internet to browse for and purchase goods and services, it behooves you as a business owner to make sure your online reputation passes the test.
According to a survey from Retrevo.com, consumers are not hesitant to take their shopping needs online. In doing so, they may come across information about you or your company that could put you in a bad light.
Findings from the survey include:
* Fifty-eight percent of smartphone owners have reviewed electronics in a store, then bought the item elsewhere online;
* Consumers noted the same regarding other products, including (41 percent for shoes), (39 percent on apparel), (23 percent when it comes to appliances), (22 percent on sporting gear), and (19 percent when the interest is home and garden). So, making sure your online reputation is as strong as possible does matter in today’s electronic age.
Among the ways to go about that:
1. Keep a high degree of online professionalism – It should go without saying, but how you and your team behave online in representing the company does matter. If consumers view you and/or your business as not being professional online, it could move them to head over to your competition. If you have an online disagreement with a customer, always maintain a level of professional communication at all times. If the customer decides not to, move the conversation offline or do as much as possible to remain above the fray. It is inevitable that a percentage of customers will turn to Facebook, Twitter or other social venues (see below) to vent frustration about a shopping or buying experience with you and your company. Your goal is to handle it professionally from start to finish;
2. Social media and online forums – Long before the Internet age, problems with customers most often meant face-to-face contact, a letter in the mail, or possibly a phone call or two. Before you knew it, then along came the Internet, opening you and your business up to an entire new can of worms. While you and your staff are not able to spend 24/7 monitoring online forums and social media sites, you do need to invest some time and effort in them, looking for instances where your name or your business come up. In many cases, the news will be positive, but there will always be some negative references too. You should periodically Google your name and your company’s name, looking to view what many consumers see when they do likewise;
3. Positive news needs mentioning – Lastly, while you have more than enough to keep you busy every day of the week, make sure you and/or your team let the world know about the many positive things going on at your business. Such activities should be promoted through your company blog posts (including guest posts on other sites), press releases, social media contributions, and positive mentions on other sites. As you promote the positive stuff, search engines will take notice, moving such information higher up on their searches. When consumers come to check you out online, the pro stuff will be some of the first things they see, hopefully pushing down any negative connotations.
Your online reputation does matter in today’s business world, so never take it for granted. If you do, you and your business could be hanging a “closed” sign on the door for good.