The importance of thinking about your online reputation early on
Starting a new business is as exciting as it is difficult. You have enough to worry about with your day to day concerns, so “Googling” yourself is probably at the bottom of your list of concerns.
But it shouldn’t be.
By monitoring your online reputation, you can control it. Your online reputation is composed of what people and clients say about you and your business online. Far from being self-involved, it is a valuable way to spend your time. In fact, it’s critical to the success of your business. But at this stage in the game, it’s probably difficult to imagine people talking about your brand.
However, being proactive in your business management is an essential practice that could make all the difference in the long term success of your enterprise.
Having a well-developed online presence tells your customers that their peace of mind matters to you. BrightLocal.com reports that 88% of customers read reviews to get the pulse on the quality of local businesses. With this in mind, it’s never been more important to get started on yours.
Preemptively developing your online reputation before it hits critical mass has other advantages, however. If you need a business partner or an investor, you can be sure they will be researching your online presence almost immediately—and a business with no reviews can be worse as having negative reviews.
The benefits don’t stop there, however. When you hire new employees, they are investigating you as much as you are them. A well-developed online presence tells them what kind of company they are interviewing for; sites like Glassdoor make it possible for employees to rate and review your business and its practices. Negative reviews have the ability to limit prospective employees and scare away top talent.
Plus, proactively monitoring and managing your content controls what people will find about your business once they do start researching you. There are a few ways you can control your online reputation and one of those is by asking your clients to review your business.
In order for this to be effective, there are some ground rules
Encourage transparent feedback. Do not request blanket satisfaction. The value of these reviews is found in the feedback, not in suspiciously high ratings. Their feedback exists to help you expand your business and for prospective clients to know what to expect.
Ensure that soliciting feedback is not against the terms of service on one of your various reputation platforms (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc). Doing so could endanger your status with them.
You should wait a few days after the transaction before you ask; this gives your client time to process the transaction without feeling pressed by your request.
Use plain, consistent language in your request.
Make sure your customer knows that your request will only take up a few moments of their time.
Express gratitude for their time and patronage while stressing the importance of their feedback!
For these reasons and more, it is vital to give your online reputation proper attention and handling. Online reputation management sounds like a catchy new buzzword. But as we hope we have demonstrated, it is instrumental to the success of your business on every level.
Using these tips to start monitoring and managing your online reputation while your business is still small will yield positive results if implemented properly. Reliability and professionalism are the most important aspect of your enterprise, and people want to be sure they can trust you. It’s a dynamic facet of your enterprise, subject to change at any time. But this isn’t always a bad thing—that change can be growth and development.
As long as you’re monitoring your reputation effectively, you can use the internet economy to your advantage.