Building a business in this part of the world can be a very daunting task, from people management, to providing your own electricity and water to daily operations, business owners are juggling so much it is almost understandable that they forget their online footprint.

The thing is, we live in a search-happy world, where potential customers & partners search online about your brand with the results they find impacting their decision to do business with you.

Entrepreneurs need to understand the need to invest in their online reputation and how proper management can have a positive effect on their search engine placement.

The latest research suggests that businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find a negative article on the first page of their search results. That number increases to 44% lost business with two negative articles, and 59% with three negative articles.

Don’t wait until your online reputation is a mess before you decide to take care of it.

A few years back, I had the privilege of working with one such brand that had waited till their reputation was the second most negative brand online in the country, at which point we had to gather mentions of the brand and understand the reason why they had such a poor reputation. While we were able to work with the brand to move its online sentiments from negative to positive and help set the industry standard for its online engagement and monitoring, in hindsight the issues the brand faced would have been easily mitigated if only it had paid attention to what was being said online.

online-reputation-management

Ryan Erskine wrote that Online Reputation Management Is Like Brushing Your Teeth

Think about why you brush your teeth. You don’t do it because your teeth are brown and dirty. You do it preventatively. It’s a habit that’s good for you because it impacts your long-term health and the look of your smile.

Now think what would happen if you waited until your teeth were gross before you decided to start brushing. Your teeth might fall out. You’d probably get gum disease. Your smile would be tarnished and discoloured. It might be too late to fix everything and, at the very least, you’d have a lot of ground to make up.

Brushing your teeth is an insurance policy against all those negative outcomes.

Importance of Social Media for Online Reputation Management
  • Cone Communications research found out that 80% of consumers went back on their purchase decisions based on negative reviews online.
  • Influence Central Data proved that 90% of consumers trust information provided on reviews more than information provided by a sales personnel.
  • According to MarketingSherpa Online adults aged 18 – 34 follow a brand through social media and that is 95% of them. This is why it is essential to have social media reputation management; it can make a major difference especially when 95% of an entire generation is following them through social platforms.

Below are some tips you can follow as a business owner to manage your ORM

Actively monitor what people are saying about you. You may think that monitoring the entire Internet is impossible. Fortunately, there are already tools out there to help you do this easily. Google Alerts and Brand Yourself can do the work for you, and send you a daily email report of every link where your name or brand appears.

Proactively build a positive reputation. Maintaining a good reputation means you have to build one early and maintain it. There is a big difference between no reputation with one negative comment, versus 1000 indications of a positive reputation and one negative. Most people accept that no person or organization is perfect.

Quickly address every negative. Many negative customer experiences can actually be turned into positives, if you quickly acknowledge the problem, resolve it, and spread the positive message before the negative one gets amplified. Don’t repeat the “United Breaks Guitars” experience, which now has been published as a book on what not to do.

Push negative content out of view. In reality, people will never find negative content, unless a link appears on the first page of search engine results. With the right focus on search engine optimization, or the help of companies like Zenera, you can usually push negative links out of sight into the swamp of the Internet.

Remove unwanted content, where possible. Removing your content from the Web is not as easy as canceling your accounts, nor is it completely impossible. You can easily remove content you own (comments on your site or accounts). Experts, Zenera, have proprietary techniques to correct or completely remove other unwanted content.

In conclusion understanding, the importance of reputation management is essential to the success of your business online and it is always better to start investing in your digital footprint.

Saheed AdeJUWON, COO at Buzz Digital.