A business’ reputation is everything – it is the lifeblood, and its digital presence matters just as much as its physical one.
Reputation in the digital world can make or break a company. Google searches, social media comments and news articles all build a picture of your business in just a few clicks, influencing the public’s perception of you. If this is a negative picture, it can very quickly turn years of success into failure. Regardless of whether you are an established, well-respected and hardworking business, just one negative comment or bad review has the power to flip it on its head without a business reputation management strategy in place.
Equally, having a bank of 5-star reviews, business success stories dominating page one of Google and endorsement after endorsement on LinkedIn paints just as powerful a picture and gives the impression that you are a trusted business. However, any business in this position shouldn’t rest on their laurels – operating without a business reputation management plan puts all of this at risk.
Every business strives to uphold a positive reputation and being able to present this online can ultimately result in improved local search rankings, more trust from customers and converting prospective customers who have done their research into leads as highlighted in a recent BrightLocal survey.
Having a reputation management strategy in place will help protect your business against any negative attacks. But, this takes time and requires a lot of attention to maintain, which can be difficult particularly if you are a small business with fewer resources. The average time spent on online reputation management each week for a normal business is around 17% of working hours, which amounts to nearly a whole day. 50% of local marketers admit they don’t have the time to put more effort into managing their online reputation. This is where having an external, dedicated reputation management team on board can really help, and one area that needs particular attention is reviews.
Review ratings have a huge impact on click-throughs from local searches, in fact as found by BrightLocal, they are the biggest conversion driver, so having negative reviews or low star ratings will immediately give a bad impression of your business and deter people from visiting your site – anything less than five stars could put you at risk of losing as much as 12% of your customers. That said, if you do receive a bad review, it is crucial not to respond as soon as you spot it.
It can be tempting to do this when you want any bad reflection on your business to be quashed, but often in these circumstances emotions are running high and kneejerk reactions like this generally lead to further problems. 97% of review readers take on board a businesses’ response to a customer review so it is important to be aware that your responses matter and that they are being read.
Equally important to consider is the fact that 45% of consumers are more inclined to visit your site if they can see that you are responding to bad reviews. This is where having a proper reputation management plan in place can really help protect your company brand reputation.
As well as monitoring genuine reviews, fake reviews are a real threat to businesses, with 58% of companies having received them. Of course, negative fake reviews can be devastating for a business, but positive fake reviews are just as dangerous – if a business was to endorse this or leave it up and it was discovered to be fake by a customer, you could be outed. However, they can be hard to identify. Uncovering and then removing them is the hardest reputation management task.
Brand and reputation management counteracts online negativity by promoting the positives instead. Having a business reputation management strategy does this using a non-emotional, considered approach, and it gives you an element of control so if a negative attack on your business does arise, you are equipped to deal with it.
Any business that has experienced online negativity in the past will naturally be more aware of the existing threats, but for any brand that has been lucky enough to avoid it so far, it is perhaps even more critical to take note. A squeaky clean reputation is not to be taken for granted as it can be destroyed much quicker than it took to build – for those businesses that feel they don’t need reputation management, now is the time to start. Having the right measures in place now will protect that company reputation you have worked hard for years to build.
Ultimately, a successful business reputation management strategy can take your business from strength to strength, leading to more customers, more staff, trust in your company and increased brand awareness.
Whether you’re a small or medium-sized business or a large corporation, no one is immune from online negativity, but we are here to help you whatever the size of your business.
At Reputation Matters we have over 25 years’ experience handling crisis situations and helping businesses restore their positive brand reputation.
We have had a wide range of challenges come to our door. From a national media story threatening to ruin the reputation of a bed manufacturer wrongfully sued for a consumer injury, to a photo and comment on Facebook threatening to destroy the organiser of a beauty pageant.
We will always act quickly and efficiently to resolve a crisis situation for a company and deploy damage control as far as we can. Yet there is no quick fix with business reputation management. It can sometimes take more than a press statement to re-build a positive reputation and some reputation management companies will promise the earth regardless, but they should not be trusted.
Reputation Matters, on the other hand, will guide you every step of the way in the process to regaining that positive brand picture. Whether negative articles, bad reviews or inaccurate public profiles are bringing your business down, we bury this unwanted content and build a positive online reputation that truly represents you and/or your brand.
My business was facing a torrent of unfair criticism on Facebook. It stemmed from one negative post by an ex-employee and escalated like wild fire. Your level-headed, practical advice helped get the negative comments removed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Your calm and steady approach was everything I needed when my business was being unfairly criticised in the national press. You stopped me from responding in haste, which I realise now, was the worst thing I could have done! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
One of my co-directors was found guilty of drink driving. I was concerned that if it got out, we’d suffer from negative press and loss of business. As it happened, there was no backlash but being able to contact you and have some pre-prepared statements and letters ready was reassuring.
I thought the problem would go away if I ignored it. It didn’t. I was reluctant to use you but can honestly say, your support and advice helped pull me back from the brink. Your patience, clarity of thought and advice were just what I needed to get me through the emotional roller coaster.