By Laura Burkey
Before the 1990s, a business’ success relied solely upon advertising, word of mouth, and its salespeople pounding the pavement. Then came the Internet.
In today’s climate, businesses can no longer bank on such methodical steps of the past. The online reputation is arguably the most important aspect to growing your business. And so many companies are out of touch with their online persona–or lack one altogether.
Viewing your online reputation is an easy thing to add to your toolbox and a great sales piece to bring in more accounts.
Think about it: You’ve spent months upon months building your brand, and now it’s time to expand to the World Wide Web. And this means more than buying a domain—this means keeping an eye on your rep. There are plenty of sites and companies that specialize in tracking a company’s online presence.
Why you need to monitor your online reputation:
- Market research: What are past, current, and potential customers saying about you?
- Participate: On industry-wide sites, join in the conversation. What better way to immerse your brand in the very community you are trying to target?
- Attract: On social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to run giveaways that will entice people to like and follow your company. If the average person has 40 friends, imagine how much exposure you gain when a handful of people publicly follow/like you.
- Fight back: Negative feedback is out there, so don’t hide from it. Embrace it, learn from it, and make it right in the eyes of the customer. By facing a negative comment head-on publicly, it proves that your company is listening to the consumer and that you want to fix any bad experiences.
- Sell. Market and sales analyses only go so far when projecting what types of new services or products your company will create for the next quarter or year. Add a little meat into your forecasting and poll your “fans.” Sure, they might be biased, but they will be the most honest.
Every monitoring service does come with a fee; however, most companies have customizable plans. Remember to delve into the different options before signing on the dotted line. If the potential tracking company has a one-size-fits-all approach, keep looking. Flexibility is an important aspect to this subjective service.
There are other ways to track your online reputation by yourself:
- Survey. Facebook and Twitter are great places to run surveys. Have fans fill out a questionnaire and give away something to entice them. It doesn’t have to be an enormous expense for your company.
- Google Alerts. Create your own search terms, and anything Google finds on the Web with the word or phrase can be emailed to you. Most alert emails arrive every 24 hours, but that is customizable.
- Search yourself online. Type in your company or your industry into any search engine. See if you show up or, more importantly, see if your competitor does.