If you’re online (and you should be), anyone can find you. This is great for business. But, it can also be terrible for business if the wrong information gets out about your company.How so? Any place that your business can be found can also be a hunting ground for dissatisfied customers or envious competition. Malicious reviews can be written and posted. Bloggers have free reign to tear your company down, and if they’re reputable bloggers, they can do it quickly.
So you have to protect your online reputation so that your offline business doesn’t suffer. When these negative reviews come out, they can dominate the search results for your company. And if people are searching for your company or companies like yours, you will suffer. Imagine a restaurant that has negative reviews where there are people saying the food is awful. Imagine an apartment complex that can’t shake a claim that it is unsafe. These companies suffer because of negative reviews.
Here are a few strategies to getting your brand out of the swamp and back onto dry land.
CLAIM YOUR NAME
If you’ve got a brand, you need to claim all of its “real estate” if you can. This means buying the .com, .net, and .org for your website’s domain. These are easily bought by other users who may want to slander your good name.The Internet is one of the most unfriendly places in the world, and it’s often an engine that runs these hateful campaigns.
Also, create Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and any other social networking profiles that you can. We’ve all see the fake Twitter or Facebook profiles, so get yours before it goes to somebody else.
You’ll also want to snatch up your brand’s presence on Yelp, Google Places, Citysearch, and Yahoo Local, as well as other local review sites.
By doing all of these things, you can drive positive, SEO-optimized information back out into the web world. This will help fight off the unoptimized reviews that have been plaguing your business.
There are even companies that will help you go a little further. Sites like Reputation.com create new websites for your company that are optimized and link back to your site to further help push away negative reviews.
STEP UP TO THE PLATE
While taking charge of the online portion of your reputation, when a crisis of reputation comes up, it is still important for you to take charge.This can mean responding to critics and giving a voice and face to your company. You could request an interview on the local news or create your own YouTube video. You could hold a meeting at your establishment to dispel rumors.
The most important factor is to allow customers and potential customers hear your side of the story. But your side of the story only goes so far. You have to follow up with action.
If you own a restaurant and you’ve been accused of turning away the elderly (or something like that), hold a special 25 percent discount for seniors over the course of a month.The key is hear it to make sure that customers understand that you do indeed listen to what they say.
At some point during your business’ lifespan, you will probably deal with some type of hit to your reputation via online methods. Whether you run a great business or not, there are always people out there with an axe to grind. Dealing with these scenarios takes a little tact and a lot of legwork to get your reputation back online.
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