Should Local Business Care About Their Online Reputation?
In a word: Yes. Businesses (more often than not) sink without a positive online reputation in this connected world where shopping online is the norm and information and services are increasingly sourced. A survey(1) on the Bright Local website reveals a consumer’s pre-sale experience is just as important as the sale. It also found that 97 percent of consumers regularly searched online for local businesses and 12 percent searched the online business world every day.
This means there’s a significant opportunity here for local businesses and service providers to reach their goals, but it’s their online presence and reputation that governs where the customers shop or choose a service provider.
Many Now Judge a Businesses By Its Online Cred
Keeping track of business and molding its online presence has its own term: Reputation management. And to manage an organization’s reputation, what shows up on searches, what people say in comments and what reviews are telling others has to be watched carefully.
This has to be covered on all social media platforms, and the Bright Local survey(2) also revealed that 86 percent of those surveyed read the reviews on local business websites (including 95 Percent of people aged from 18 to 34). These figures show there is a massive pool of potential clients and customers who will either recommend or condemn your product or service. It’s a wise business person who takes the following into consideration.
Gossip is Forever Online
In the past, and in the offline world, damaging gossip was and is usually forgotten after a week, and people and businesses eventually recover from bad press over time. It’s a far different story in the online world, however.
Once a piece of information, good or bad, is released into the digital morass it’s like diamonds – it is there forever. Add to this the fact that there are some loathsome, if very clever people who look for destructive posts and take them out of context, add distorted images and release them without the victim having any idea about it.
The truth is, one adverse comment or remark, let alone a post aimed at sabotage is set in concrete on the Internet and can never be removed. No amount of positive feedback or glowing reviews can guarantee that years of hard work won’t be lost by a negative post.
People Trust Online Reviews
It’s not exactly breaking news that the business world is highly competitive, but many businesses have yet to realize that digital personal accounts are pure gold. There was a time when a family member or friend’s recommendation about a business or service was valued and often followed.
Now we can’t wait for that, preferring to leap online and read what a total stranger has to say, and trust them more than someone in real life. To say gossip spreads like a fireball in a bushfire sounds fast, but in the digital world, it’s more like the speed of light. The thing is, a review is available instantly to 3.2 billion people, which is why a positive one can be so wonderful. However, great care should be taken to ensure your business is generating useful responses.
But like a karate champion, you can deflect a negative review like a kick in such a way that it becomes positive, by responding courteously, and clearing up misunderstandings in a positive manner. The reviewer can then see that you care about their opinion and concerns.
Another way to boost your online appeal and social media credibility, is to post a customer’s testimonials which will boost your online reputation. If you can, ask someone in another company you’ve worked with if you can use their logo on your site and get a quote from them about how great you are to work with. Makes sure you display your valuable testimonials prominently and share them far and wide on the Internet.
Check Your Business in a Search Engine
To successfully manage your online reputation you should do a search online for your business to see what appears. Someone might have written an article about your business that is far from glowing, or your site may have been linked to another one unbeknownst to you. Instances such as these can be destructive, so you should sit up and take notice because it could affect your business. This is more so if the offensive content’s source appears before your site does on the search engine, so you should regularly update your site, and make it user-friendly.
As businesses close to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, doing business online has never been more important. Having a solid online reputation not only keeps your profits healthy, but it will help people find you and do their shopping or business online rather than leaving the house. This helps people to maintain social/physical distancing which helps to stop the spread of the deadly virus and saves lives.
Guest Author’s Bio
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including house cleaning, business support and digital printing. As the owner of Integral Media, he is now utilizing his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.