How to Monitor and Manage Your Online Reputation
Business owners know a bad online review isn't just deflating – it can damage your organization and reputation. Today, online reviews are more important than ever: A whopping 87% of consumers1 say they consulted online reviews in 2020, an increase from 81% the prior year.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect your business — and even thrive in the world of digital reviews. Read on for everything you need to know about building and monitoring your online reputation.
Monitor what people are saying about your business
Consumers will find a way to sound off, and their options are more varied than ever before. While you should pay attention to stalwarts like Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, and the Better Business Bureau, there are likely niche sites devoted to your industry — like TripAdvisor for hospitality companies, and Houzz for contractors, interior designers, and landscapers.
Most review sites allow you to set up a profile of your business, so that customers know they have found you. Then it's critical to keep an eye on the reviews so you can respond promptly. If you have set up your official profile on a site, there's usually a way to opt in to receive notifications when comments are posted.
It's also wise to set up a Google alert for the name of your company and products; it can't hurt to set one up for nicknames and alternative spellings, too. You never know what someone might be saying, whether on a blog or another page, so tracking your name is always a best practice.
But Google doesn't catch everything. So you'll want to do some additional sleuthing to see if there's anyone talking about your business on social media sites, such as Twitter conversations or Instagram captions. A media monitoring tool, such as Mention2 or Hootsuite,3 can help you conduct online audits by looking for names, keywords, and even hashtags on social media sites.
Potential customers go to review sites to “star gaze." In fact, star rating is the No. 1 metric1 consumers focus on in a review.
Let your voice be heard, too
Although a bad review can sting, especially if you believe it's unjustified, it can actually be a blessing in disguise. First, it might alert you to a problem you didn't know you had, like a faulty product or surly staffer. In addition, it gives you a forum to respond to the issue and make it right (if possible), while publicly showing readers you're listening. That means you're not just helping create a fan out of the person whose problem you're solving, you're showing the rest of the world that you care enough to go the extra mile, since 96% of consumers1 also pay attention to how a business responded to a poor review. And research even shows4 that readers might feel more empathy toward your business if the review appears unfair.
To appease your critic, try to respond quickly (though you should wait until you cool off if a review has got you particularly hot) and as tactfully as possible. Start off by apologizing for their experience, even if it wasn't your fault. Then suggest they contact you or your customer service department if you have one, or say you'll reach out to gather more details if they left contact information. If you are able to satisfactorily address the situation, ask them if they will take the review down or post an update.
Of course, you should respond to the positive reviews, too. Thank the writer for their time and business, and if you're up for it, send them a free product or piece of swag to further cement their loyalty — and maybe earn another positive shout out.
Enlist the help of happy customers
Make no mistake — potential customers go to review sites to “star gaze." In fact, star rating is the No. 1 metric1 consumers focus on in a review — and fewer than half of consumers would consider patronizing a business or service with less than four stars.
While bad reviews and low-star rating may be inevitable, there is a way to counteract them – with good reviews. Often you just need to ask, given that nearly three-quarters of U.S. consumers1 reported that they have written a review for a local business in 2020– a big jump from 66% in 2019.
Try to seek feedback soon after you delivered your product or service. This is when the experience will be top-of-mind for customers — and their write-up more thoughtful. You can add the request to a follow-up email, and make it extra easy for them by including links to the review sites you prefer.
Once you have those rave reviews, repurpose them widely — in social media, in your marketing, and sprinkled throughout your website. After all, good news should travel fast, too.
Important disclosure information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- "Local Consumer Review Survey 2020," Bright Local, published December 9, 2020, accessed March 20, 2021. Back
- Mention.com, accessed March 24, 2021. Back
- Hootsuite.com, accessed March 24, 2021 Back
- Thomas Allard, Lea H. Dunn, Katherine White, “Negative Reviews, Positive Impact: Consumer Empathetic Responding to Unfair Word of Mouth," Journal of Marketing, published May 21, 2020, accessed March 20, 2021. Back
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