There are few things that strike terror into small business owners like having someone smear them, their company, or their brand online. Is it any wonder? We’ve all seen and heard horror stories about businesses being brought down by a hailstorm of criticism on the internet, and it can leave business owners feeling powerless to do anything about it.
The good news is that you CAN keep that from happening, simply by controlling your reputation from day one. The instances where businesses are outright harmed are all examples of companies that have lost control of the narrative, or didn’t notice or care about it until it was too late, but that doesn’t have to be you. Here’s the simple two-step process to avoid having to contend with angry, howling masses online.
The first, best thing you can do when it comes to reputation management is to simply be present. You cannot hope to control the conversation if you’re not even a part of it, so be a part of it! Connect with your customers on a regular basis on all of your social media channels. Remember, social media is just that – social. You’re not writing TO your customers, you’re talking WITH them. That’s an important distinction, and one that gets too often missed by owners. Be prepared to sit down for a while and actually talk to your customers. When you do, you’ll be in control of the narrative, and can gently guide the conversation.
Engaging also means that you’ve got an ear to the ground, so when someone leaves you a negative review or other bad press, you’ll see it quickly. When you see it, respond! Don’t respond in anger. Don’t lash out, or get defensive, because remember, everyone else online can see what you’re saying and how you’re responding.
Simply respond with calm professionalism, attempt to get to the root of the problem, and do what you can to fix it. When your other customers see you trying (and not losing your cool), they’ll respect that, and you’ll retain control of the narrative.
Reputation management sounds more complicated than it is. Mostly, it’s about you being involved and connected. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the online community that builds up around your business.