In the world of business, reputation is everything. It’s how potential customers find your business. It’s how satisfied customers become loyal to your brand. In a world where everyone has the internet in their pocket, your online reputation is absolutely essential for long-term success.
Rather than treating your online reputation as a passive form of branding, take control with an active approach. Here are six reasons why you should be more in tune with your online reputation.
A Form of Social Proof
The term social proof was originally coined in 1984. It’s the idea that people— particularly consumers— will adapt their behavior based on others’ actions and experiences. When it comes to business, social proof is often a key driver behind a sale.
One of the first things consumers do when vetting a purchase is to look for online reviews. These tidbits of information act as reassurance that someone has received what was promised in return for their hard-earned money. In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend.
Businesses that hope to thrive in the digital era should practice social listening, seeking both tagged and untagged mentions of their brands and products. This exercise will help brands get a better idea of what their customers are saying about them and will highlight opportunities to improve.
Businesses that wish to thrive online can’t afford to ignore SEO. Keyword optimized long-form content, back-end site functionality, and backlinking all play a role in how one’s website ranks on Google. More recently, local SEO has been a focal point for businesses. Online reviews and reputation-building play an essential role in this area.
When someone provides positive feedback about your business, it’s more likely to appear during a local search. Conversely, negative feedback will down-rank you. Having no feedback at all will essentially render you non-existent in a local search.
For example, consider a city with numerous car parts stores. If someone searches for “car parts store near me,” they’ll be directed to a list of local options. The store with the best online reputation will be listed at the top, and most likely to be clicked first. Generally speaking, a better online reputation means better revenue.
Traditional Advertising is Fading
The world has long since grown weary of traditional advertising. Taking out a newspaper ad or a radio clip doesn’t have the same impact as it used to. Branding, consistency, and an online presence trump outbound marketing efforts. According to a study conducted by Hubspot, 84% of millennials distrust traditional advertising. As this is the generation with the most buying power, spending an estimated $1.4 trillion in the US alone, this is a compelling statistic.
Consumers want to see video marketing, like the unboxing videos from Deepking. They want to see a humorous, human-oriented form of online engagement, like MoonPie conveys in their tweets. They want to see user-generated content and customer highlights, like Cupshe, uses to captivate their audience. Finally, they want to see proof of corporate social responsibility (CSR) like Microsoft exudes with their philanthropic endeavors.
In other words, consumers are looking online for brands they can connect with rather than those that will speak at them.
Position Your Brand as an Expert
Building an online reputation provides an opportunity to position yourself, and your business, as an expert in your industry. It’s how you show consumers that you know what you’re talking about. This activity gives people a reason to follow you and view you as a reputable source of information.
When you get down to it, every business is in sales. Building an online reputation and positioning your business as an expert by sharing relevant information makes it easier for consumers to click the “buy now” button when you ask for a sale.
Information Moves Fast
The internet has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. The sounds of a dial-up modem are a thing of the past. Images loading pixel by pixel is ancient history. In other words, things are moving faster, and attention spans have gotten shorter.
The instant nature of online communication is one of the most compelling reasons why brands need to manage their online reputation. All it takes is one viral Facebook post from a dissatisfied customer to derail your business and cause permanent damage. In a world where people share without verifying the validity of the information, businesses can no longer afford to ignore reputation management.
Negative Reviews are an Opportunity to Shine
Building an online reputation of trust and loyalty will help mitigate the impact of a vocal and dissatisfied customer. Responding to negativity is an opportunity for businesses to prove their value and customer-centric service skills.
Businesses not only need to build an online reputation, but they also need to be proactive about it. Engage in social listening and active branding to build an online reputation that connects with customers during the digital age.
by Wendy Dessler