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Managing Online Reputations

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By Jeff Shirts

Unfortunately, all companies experience negative press.  Companies do their best to satisfy their customers and clients, but every once and a while, a complaint will be made.  When these complaints occur, sometimes dissatisfied customers will go to the internet and vent their grievances online.  Unfortunately, these negative review sites have a lot of clout in the search engines and they rank easily and well.  Not long after posting a complaint online, it is not unusual to find the website where the complaint was listed ranking above the company’s website in the search engine result pages.  This can be devastating for a company, turning away potential business and having an impact for years to come.  In the era of digital information, it is important to know how to control reputations online.  Remember that if a company does not manage their own reputation, then someone else will.

Reputation management is an important aspect of every company’s online profile.  Currently there are numerous free, easy-to-use websites that can help bolster a company’s reputation and help them fight against negative reviews.  When facing negative reviews, a company should ensure to use free social media websites.

Usually, Social media only takes moments to create an account.  Facebook and Twitter are fairly easy to use and are ubiquitous entities of social media.  A strong Facebook presence has many uses:

  1. Promote a company’s brand
  2. Interact directly with customers and clients
  3. Strong search engine ranking

Brand Promotion:

One of the primary purposes of social media is to increase brand awareness.  This is always going to be true regardless of why a Facebook page is created.  Companies should use this to their advantage.  If they do not already have a strong Facebook presence, they should start one immediately.  When creating a Facebook page, encourage all employees to like and share the page.  Remember it is a faux pas (and in some states illegal) to ask employees to provide access to their Facebook profile.  However there is nothing wrong with asking for social media support from employees.

Customer and Client Interaction:

Another great resource that Facebook provides is a platform for upset clients and customers to vent their frustrations and grievances.  It is always preferred to have a client air out their grievances on Facebook versus a review website, such as Yelp.com or Pissedconsumer.com.  Primarily because the company owner controls the Facebook page and can remove complaints if they so desire.  However, it is much better to have the negative complaints stand and be addressed than to have upset clients and customers going to a website that the company cannot control, and post thereon where the company can do nothing to have it removed.  Allowing customers to vent on Facebook gives the company another chance to address their problems and rectify the situation.

Search Engine Rankings:

Facebook ranks well in the search engines, usually on the first page.  Additionally, nearly everyone is familiar with Facebook and knows how to find people and companies on social media platforms.  In the unfortunate event that a negative review against a company does exist on a review site, having a Facebook page and presence in the search engine result pages helps to answer and assuage any potential questions or concerns that might arise.

Other popular social media platforms include Twitter and LinkedIn.  Twitter was originally designed to send text messages to a large group of people at once.  Twitter has relatively relaxed privacy options, which make it very easy to companies and celebrities to broadcast information to a large group of people.  The downside of Twitter is that it offers no content control, like Facebook does.  However, given Twitters immense popularity in allowing fans to communicate with celebrities, and vice versa, Twitter tends to rank easily and quickly.  It is not uncommon to see Twitter in the first position on the first page of a search engine result because of this.  Companies should take full advantage of Twitter’s ranking power to help lower negative review sites off of their company’s search engine result pages.

LinkedIn has less impact on the search engine’s themselves, however it is a powerful social media website specifically designed for businesses to stay in communications with other businesses.  While in many ways LinkedIn mirrors and mimics Facebook, it is becoming increasingly more popular and, more importantly, it is becoming increasingly suspicious when a company does not maintain a LinkedIn profile.

When facing negative review sites, it is important to have an active account on at least these three social media websites.  By themselves they can make a strong impact to combat the negative effects of a review site.  Do keep in mind though professional services do exist, and if needed, don’t hesitate to contact a company.  Again, always remember, if you are not managing your reputation, someone else is controlling it.

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