7 online reputation management errors small businesses must avoid

7 online reputation management errors small businesses must avoid

Online platforms have helped businesses reach more customers, but now, businesses have to build and maintain their presence in both offline and online worlds. The reputation of a company among the general public largely contributes to its sales and growth in the long run. So, online reputation management has become an important measure, especially for small businesses trying to establish an online presence. Before embarking on this path, here are mistakes small businesses should avoid:

1. Absence on social media platforms
Social media platforms have emerged as powerful tools for businesses, helping them actively engage with their audiences and promote their products and services. These days, when one comes across a brand’s name for the first time, they usually check the company’s social media profile before deciding if they should engage with the brand. So, if a business does not have a social media profile, it can seem unreliable to potential consumers or deter them. Businesses do not need to have a presence on all social media platforms. Instead, they should focus on 3–4 platforms that are popular among the businesses’ target audiences. Being active on these platforms means posting regularly and creating innovative campaigns that can strike a chord with the target group.

2. Not responding to comments and reviews
It is not enough to have a dedicated space for customers to share opinions online regarding a company’s products and services. The company should also respond to as many of these reviews and comments as possible, as this shows that the stakeholders are genuinely interested in their customers and their feedback. If the comment or review is negative, the brand should immediately get the issue addressed and leave a comment with an apology and what initiatives it has taken to resolve the problem. Potential customers tend to focus on negative comments and their replies, so the more genuine and proactive a company is, the better chance it has to improve its online reputation.

3. Excluding it from digital marketing plans
Often, small businesses consider reputation management an additional task, so it is not specifically assigned to someone in the digital marketing team. However, then online reputation management activities are not organized and employees may not prioritize them. So, online reputation management should be an active part of the digital marketing plans. The digital marketing team of a business should brainstorm on different ways to uphold the company’s reputation online, assigning tasks like replying to comments, dealing with negative reviews, posting on social media, etc., to different people in the team.

4. Leaving automated responses
Many companies automate their responses online to save time and effort while making their customers happy. However customers can usually differentiate between a personalized and a generic reply. Also, if they post multiple comments and receive the same response for all, they would be able to tell these are autogenerated responses. This is why businesses need to prioritize manually replying to individual comments. If responses are customized, customers will notice the personal touch in them and are more likely to perceive the brand positively.

5. Uploading fake reviews
When a business doesn’t get enough responses or reviews online, the easy way out is to post a few fake positive reviews to garner positive attention. But this may actually be the most destructive strategy. For starters, search engines can blacklist those posting fake reviews. Also, if there are no negative or neutral reviews and only positive ones, it is sure to leave website visitors skeptical about the brand, stopping them from converting into customers. Finally, if this act is ever confirmed online, the business’s reputation can be tarnished permanently. It is better for businesses to be patient when it comes to being active on social media platforms. Further, spending some time trying to understand the target group and providing top-notch products or services will yield results.

6. Reacting negatively to unfair reviews
It is common for businesses to be attacked on online platforms once in a while. Sometimes, these reviews may also use fake details to target brands, such as unwarranted claims that the company has closed down partially or completely. While the natural reaction here may be to quickly refute such claims, it is important to be cautious and avoid sending furious replies or being excessively sarcastic. This is because the original review, as well as the company’s responses to it, are visible to everyone online, and an aggressive response is likely to reflect negatively on the company’s ability to deal with difficult situations. Instead, the reply should have a calm, neutral tone that presents all the facts clearly while still exhibiting politeness and professionalism. Ideally, content professionals should be asked to draft such responses.

7. Ignoring email marketing
Even with the popularity of social media, good old emails are still relevant. Also, they offer a means of direct communication. What’s more? There is a chance of potential customers opening emails even when they are on a break from social media. So, it is a great idea to send out emails regarding upcoming product launches, features and benefits of specific products, and deals and discounts. Also, businesses should reply promptly to any post-purchase emails from customers, thanking them for the feedback.