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September 17, 2014
Quick! Watch Your Back!

In only one tweet or Facebook update, an online reputation can be compromised. The stakes are getting higher in today’s environment, with customers now given the opportunity to freely share opinions with a worldwide audience. It comes as little surprise, then, that more businesses are seeking consultation and software solutions from reputation management firms to help them create and maintain a positive online reputation.

With 94 percent of mobile users (Televox) searching for online reviews before purchasing a service or product, a positive online reputation is important to confirming whether or not their choice is correct. Online reputation is equally vital for both online businesses and brick-and-mortar locations. A quality online reputation management company can offer expert advice and provide a strategic approach to completing the complex task of acquiring online reviews.

A survey by Woodbury University found nearly 75 percent of businesses monitor customer satisfaction in some manner. Whether you believe it’s an integral business tool or a complete nuisance, Yelp appears to be an unstoppable force in today’s marketplace. Here are some more statistics the survey uncovered:

  • Cumulative reviews have grown nearly 50 percent in the last year (53 million).

  • Average unique monthly visitors increased 39 percent to 120 million.

  • Active local business accounts grew 69 percent.

  • While 49 percent of respondents reported they monitor reviews at least twice a month, more than half do not monitor reviews at all.

  • 79.5 percent of respondents said they believed revenue would increase at least 1 percent if their business experienced a one-point star rating improvement.

  • If the overall rating of a business slipped from 4.5 stars to a 3.5 star rating, 75 percent of respondents believed revenue would decrease by at least 1 percent. 

What does that mean for your business? Here’s the bottom line: Trying to distance your business from its online reputation is virtually impossible. With that said, here are some tips for polishing your online reputation to a shine.

Content Creation
The opportunities are endless in terms of content creation. Think infographics, blog posts, slideshows, videos, and more. As a part of your planning, try to mix it up and put together a diverse marketing program. Create and distribute interesting, high-quality content to supersede negative postings that may occur from time to time. You want to ensure that your voice speaks directly to the audience.

As a general rule, content should address the unique needs and interests of the intended audience so they feel compelled to share it on their own social-media channels. It’s important the content pieces transcend a variety of channels while still remaining consistent. This will lead the way to customer loyalty. The goal should be to create content that informs and entertains while sharing researched facts and figures. Link to authoritative sites when discussing these statistics and details so that your audience — and Google — recognize your authority and credibility.

Employment Sites
Consumers leaving reviews about your business online aren’t the only potential concern. Emerging job and career sites like Indeed and Glassdoor now encourage current and former employees to posts reviews about their experiences of working at your company, along with opinions about the organizational leadership and commentary about the company’s future. This user-generated content may include interview questions, company reviews, and anonymous salaries. Along with your customers, employees and potential partners will read these reviews as well. The best strategy to overcome any potential obstacles is to define your company culture by building profiles on these sites. Identify the most important aspects of your business through these profiles and then request endorsements, recommendations and reviews from your key employees.

Social Media
Distributing content to a wide array of channels is a crucial step in any content marketing strategy. As the first measure, claim your business profile on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Google+ is particularly recommended due to its connection with Google. Add business name, description, hours, phone number, logo image, and any other relevant details. You’ll soon begin to notice that you’re gaining more real estate on Google search results pages. While procuring a series of positive reviews can be a time-intensive process, it will eventually pay big dividends in terms of securing new business.

Monitoring Services
When consumers have a bad experience and decide to share their complaints online, a review site like Google+ or Yelp are often their first destination. As a result, the business in question has no advance opportunity to address the situation and resolve the customer service issues. Businesses may consider a service like The Review Solution, which allows consumers to share their experiences while affording businesses the opportunity to analyze current operations.

Developing an online review strategy is now a necessity for any business. According to the company’s website, The Review Solution “addresses all of these issues through a single, easy-to-use monthly service that allows the business owner to focus on growing business rather than battling online reviews.” The Review Solution clients are expected to receive a substantial increase in monthly positive online reviews on major review sites like Yelp and Google+, as well as niche-specific sites in their chosen specialty (health & medical, food & dining, legal, travel, etc.)

Whether the online commentary and reviews come from longtime customers or ex-employees, it’s important to know what the general public is reading about your products and services. An online reputation management strategy is a vital element of any business’ daily operations.

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Blake Jonathan Boldt has contributed effective and educational content to a variety of businesses and organizations. He provides writing, editing, social media and content strategy services for both domestic and international clients. His articles have been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and digital media outlets.
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