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After a recent trip to Las Vegas, I was stuck thinking about how people line up to throw money at these big casinos on the VERY off chance that might win a couple bucks.  Don’t get me wrong, I was right there beside them, playing craps and roulette.  It is the idea of what might happen that keeps people coming back, no matter how small the chance.

With all this in mind I realized that many businesses do the same thing with their online reputation, the only difference is it may be costing them and they don’t even know it!  There are so many websites to keep track of and on top of that, so many statistics proving that whether you are B2C or B2B people will research your business online before doing business with you.

Even with this knowledge many SMB’s have not formulated a plan to make sure they know what people will find.  Just like the person in Vegas knowing there is a small chance that they might win, oftentimes SMB’s feel there is a small chance they might be effected by online postings about their business.  I can assure you that the possibility of a business being effected by online reviews and postings is MUCH higher than the possibility of hitting a Royal Flush on a video poker machine.  Still not convinced?  Here are 3 ways to turn the odds in your favor with ORM (Online Reputation Management).

  1. Yelp – Yelp has approximately 100 million possibilities that could hugely effect your online reputation.  The reality is, whether you love them or hate them, your customers are using yelp to search for services you provide.  Even if you have “chosen to stay off of yelp”, the consumer has not and will choose a provider that has lots of reviews and good ones to boot.  To turn the odds in your favor here, you need to have a process to gain new reviews as often as possible.  It is inevitable that every business will get a less than perfect review eventually, but if you have a large number of positive reviews to combat that outlier the damage will be minimized.
  1. Online Brand Real Estate – More and more consumers will now take the extra step of “Googling” a business’s name as part of their buying research.  The larger the dollar amount or the more emotional the purchase, the more research that will be done.  Knowing this, it is absolutely paramount that a brand owns the first 2-3 pages of a Google search when it comes to their brand name.  If you ask enough businesses you will eventually run across one or more that have had to completely rebrand themselves because they were not watching their “online brand real estate”.
  1. Social Listening – Even if you are a very small operation it is highly likely that people are talking about your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ect., but are you listening?  You should be!  There could be opportunities to secure long term relationships or get in front of problems before they grow into a PR nightmare.  Social media is where people talk about businesses in real time and even a small operation needs to have a system in place to monitor what is being said about their brand.

There are a TON of considerations when it comes to managing a brand online, whether big or small, but these 3 key points should be at least on the radar of every business.  Make sure that your online review game is on point and you are responding and taking things seriously, not just complaining about them.  Also, make it a habit to Google your business name once a month.  You may be surprised what you find.  (Hint: It is not ALWAYS bad so don’t be too scared) Last, social media is a force to be reckoned with.  Don’t just use it as a way to spew ads at your patrons, use it as a tool to improve your business and secure long term relationships with your customers.  Though it may seem creepy to spy on what is being said about your business in open forums, it is your business!  Take care of it!  Make sure that your customers are happy and satisfied in this public realm and it will make doing business with you irresistible.