Online reputation can make or break a business. A local business with high brand awareness and numerous positive reviews is going to see more traffic (and more profit) than a business with minimal brand awareness and a handful of mixed or negative reviews.
Now more than ever, a business’s online reputation is critical to their success. A study by Reviewtrackers found that negative reviews have convinced 94% of consumers to avoid a business. For businesses that have made online reputation management (ORM) an afterthought, this could be a significant blow to the company.
That being said, managing your online reputation doesn’t necessarily mean it is being managed correctly. In the first installment of Leadhub’s Reputation Management Series, we’re going to go over the biggest mistakes we see businesses make when managing their online reputation.
1) Snarky Comebacks Aren’t for Everyone
Some of the most popular characters in fiction are beloved for their quick wit and snarky comebacks. Friends wouldn’t be the same without Chandler Bing’s sarcastic comebacks. However, snarky comebacks don’t always translate well in a reply to a negative review or a disparaging Facebook post.
While some larger brands, like Wendy’s and Moonpie, have thrived off of having a snarky brand voice, most that attempt the same style of humor fail. This is because snarky comebacks often come off as rude, insensitive or downright mean – especially in writing where the tone of voice is purely subjective.
Local businesses should not try to get smart with customers who disagree with the quality of service provided to them. Instead, take a level-headed approach. Respond calmly to avoid making the situation worse. If you typically aren’t playful when you engage with your customers, now isn’t the time to try something new. We’ll dive deeper into tactics business owners can use in ORM later in the series.
2) Don’t Pay for Positive Reviews
If you’re desperate for positive reviews, it can be tempting to pay a shady service to get reviews for you. However, buying positive reviews will do you more harm than good. Fake reviews go against the policies of every major review site, including Google, Facebook and Yelp. Fake reviews could have you penalized or even banned from these sites, which will make ORM virtually impossible for your business.
Beyond the consequences from review sites, buying fake reviews can have legal ramifications. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has policies against fake reviews and testimonials. Violations of these policies can result in serious fines against you and your business.
3) Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews
If you’re responding to positive reviews, you also need to respond to the negative ones. When it comes to branding, consistency is key. You need to make sure your brand’s voice is heard when you receive a negative review. It’s important to get in front of any problem your business might be facing, and that includes dissatisfied customers.
This doesn’t mean you should only respond to negative reviews. Giving your customers thanks for leaving a positive review shows you value them as a customer. It also shows that your business is engaged and always happy to provide good customer service.
It’s important that you are regularly checking up on your reviews and social media presence. Checking your reviews weekly is a great way to stay on top of your online reputation. At Leadhub we stay on top of it by checking our clients’ reviews daily. If your business is just starting out or if you don’t have a high volume of reviews coming in, checking weekly is a great way to stay on top of your online reputation. It also allows you to get on top of reviews that might be negatively influencing potential customers.
4) Don’t Engage with Trolls
Internet trolls are people who purposely post hostile or rude reviews, comments or social media posts to provoke others into starting arguments. People who engage with trolls usually end up looking foolish, which is usually the intent of the troll.
Don’t confuse negative reviews with trolls. A negative review will be a legitimate concern the customer had about the services provided. Here are some key indicators that will help you identify a troll:
- Slanderous or false reviews
- Curse words and inappropriate language
- Racist, sexist or homophobic remarks
- Comments making fun of a religion or someone’s personal beliefs
Posts that use slurs or posts that can be proven inaccurate or fake violate the rules of major review platforms and social media sites, meaning they can be reported and possibly removed.
While trolling isn’t super common, we have seen it happen to several of our clients. We work quickly to have these posts removed from the platform by reporting them rather than start a public argument.
5) Good Customer Service Shines Through
Good customer service is the ultimate weapon against a bad reputation, regardless of whether it is online or offline. If you consistently provide excellent service, customers will take notice and you will be rewarded for it.
It may be cliché, but there is truth behind the phrase “nobody’s perfect.” Most people understand that everyone makes mistakes, and if you go above and beyond to try and fix it, customers will be appreciative and more likely to return to your business.
Taking care of your online reputation isn’t always easy, but it is vital for your business’s credibility, traffic and sales. This is the first blog in our Reputation Management Series, so stay tuned for more best practices on managing your business’s reputation!