If used effectively, social media can have a fantastic effect on your business’ brand. However, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and forums and blogs can also damage your company’s reputation fairly easily. These media outlets enable a complainer to get their voice heard by many others in a short space of time, and their negative comments may also show up when people conduct Google searches of your company. The customer can influence people within their social sphere, as well as the wider audience outside. Nick Leech, managing director of Euston Digital search marketing agency in London, offers his top tips to limit the spread of negative comments and to boost your online reputation:
1. Set up a page for your business on Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube or Twitter
Aside from offering a new way to engage with customers, social media pages should rank on page one of your brand searches. Do more than just open an account with each, add content about your business including product news, latest offers and customer feedback. Users searching for you will then see an active, dynamic business that’s working hard to relate to customers.
2. Foster good reviews
It’s vital that your business generates positive reviews and feedback from customers and that comments are published on third party websites. Compile a list of sites where your industry reviews are published by searching for ‘your market and reviews’.
Here’s a list of general review websites to make a start:
The next time a customer gives you positive feedback, ask them if they would post it on one of these sites.
3. Claim your Google Places page
Previously called the ‘Google Local Business Center’, Google Places gives every website a free webpage that contains basic facts about the business, including name and contact details. As a business owner, you can claim ownership of your business page, and then add colour to it by including photos, special offers, and opening hours. There’s even an area for customers to leave feedback. A Google Places page will rank highly in the Google search results, and also on Google Maps.
4. Use your website profile pages
Many websites set up a single static page for every domain name that details basic information about that domain. Compiled from a mixture of sources including the Who-is register, these services claim to be able to ‘value’ that domain.
As the domain owner you can claim and edit those pages, and include the missing information. These sites are usually well optimised, and therefore rank highly for domain searches.
The following sites offer this:
5. Consider writing a Wikipedia page
An entry on Wikipedia will almost always rank highly in the results page. The challenge is getting your business entry approved - it needs to pass ‘notability guidelines’. The other issue with Wikipedia is that your entry can be edited by literally anyone. So if you are lucky enough to have your content approved, keep a close eye to make sure it isn’t tampered with.
6. Answer your critics online
If a customer complains about you online, consider responding to them publicly in the place the complaint was made. The original moan will of course remain, but what anyone reading the exchange will appreciate is that you’re working hard to solve the problem. Every business has disappointed customers at one point or another, but trying to address the issues will win you respect from others, and should work well in the long run.