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Remember the good ‘ol days when you opened the phone book and the best ad won your business?
Well not anymore! Now, thanks to social media, you have to be on constant alert to promote AND protect your professional and personal reputation. Sure it looks easy…just go online and post some nice things about how great you are on your website, Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great way to reach the public! But no one ever warned you about the public reaching back!
There are basically two kinds of online reputation traps you need to be aware of and manage:
1. The public interaction you receive after engagement, and
2. The personal items you and your friends post on your private pages that somehow make it into your professional world.
Online media is a great tool for reaching audiences who weren’t always in your grasp. Everyone gets the warm and fuzzies when customers go online to say things like “great job Bob!” and “I can’t wait to go back!” The frightening part about social media is when people go online and say, “Bob is a jerk” or “Tom never takes my problem seriously.” Or, when people see those pictures of you that wouldn’t even show your mom. Those comments spread like wildfire and it takes a lot of work to resolve the challenges they present.
You need to first and foremost, be proactive. This is your business, your livelihood…and it doesn’t get more personal than that! Some DOs and DON’Ts for protecting your reputation online:
DO set up some automatic alerts to notify you when your business is mentioned in a review or blog
DO list your company in local search sites and make sure it’s complete! This helps you get better search results and push the negative search results down.
DO respond to people who post negative comments to let them (and everyone else who is watching) that you care about customer service. DON’T try to reason with them online, but DO reach out and begin communicating privately.
DO set up some analytics on your site so you can identify demographics, key words used in searches and other metrics that will help boost your ratings. Google offers some good tools for this and they’re easy to use.
DON’T recruit people to write false reviews or trash competitors. It’s the online form of gossip and most people can see through it, kind of like the bully in the playground.
In closing, don’t let the online world freak you out…it’s here to stay. It is a key influencer for over 80% of consumers today. You’ve got to run a business and stay ahead of the buzz to be successful. Go online… check yourself out! It’s going to reveal a lot more than looking in a mirror.