Your online reputation is vital to your company’s success
By now, you have undoubtedly encountered the profile of a brand that has an amazing social media presence. You know the type: it has eye-catching content; they are engaged with their audience; they have a clear voice and tone, and they ultimately come across as trustworthy. In a world where consumers are making their purchasing decisions based on online reputation, it is more important than ever to know how to manage your own.
Social media has become an invaluable tool that can help you reach new audiences, gain reviews, manage your company’s reputation, and most importantly, it provides a space where you can instantly engage with your consumer base.
Luckily, having the kind of eye-catching and reputable social media presence that consumers love and trust is absolutely attainable to everyone, and not just to huge corporations and influencers!
To get started, we suggest first going through the following steps:
- Find out where your reputation is at right now
- Decide what you want your reputation to be
- Create a policy or guide around your social media presence
- Decide which social media platforms will help you reach your target audience
Find out where your reputation is at right now
Before getting started on the path of managing your business’ online reputation, you need to know where you currently stand. If this is something you have never looked into, it can feel overwhelming or scary to get started. Similar to a credit score or going to the dentist, ignoring your reputation and reviews isn’t going to fix them or make them go away. Also similar to a credit score or going to the dentist, if you are willing to invest a little time into educating yourself and putting in the work, you will be able to take control and get results you can be proud of. There are many sites available for the public to leave your business a review. While it may be tempting to stay in the dark when it comes to your reputation, stepping up and taking control of your listings is the first step towards showing your customers and potential future clients that you care about their feedback. We recommend getting started by claiming your business’ listings. Top Rated local is free, and is a great way to manage your business’s online reputation. It aggregates ratings and reviews from verified review sites online and then ranks businesses based on their overall Rating Score™. By using this incredible tool, you would be able to monitor and manage your reviews across a variety of sites, all from one place!
Understanding what people think about your company is a great place to start when it comes to figuring out what to do next in terms of your business’ reputation. If you go online and find out that people have had negative experiences regarding your business’ cleanliness or customer service skills, that’s something you’d want to address before you launch into a silly social media campaign.
Decide what you want your reputation to be
Using social media is a great way to keep in touch with your clients, your community, and your potential customers. With social media, you are also able to set the tone for how you would like your business to be seen by others. Do you want to be known for your unwavering professionalism, your playfulness, or maybe your approachableness? There’s not really a right answer here, but it is best to decide on a tone and stick with it.
Take Wendy’s for instance. They broke the mold when it comes to their voice on social media. They have become renowned for their quick quips and harsh humor. Their ability to snarkily torch competitors and fans alike even prompted them to create their own holiday, National Roast Day, where people, competitors, and other companies lined up for the chance to have Wendy’s throw some shade their way and publically roast them. They’ve said that they want their social media feed to be like their food — better than what you’d expect from a fast food place. And it worked! People are following and engaging with their accounts because they have used their social media to come across as more than a faceless corporation.
Now, the Wendy’s tone obviously isn’t the best model for every business, but every small business can take note when it comes to deciding what you want your voice and reputation to be, and sticking to it.
A strategy popularized by L’Oreal is to utilize its employees to highlight the company as an excellent employer, resulting in a better company culture, higher employee engagement, and doubling as a simple but effective recruitment tactic. Through the use of hashtags, L’Oreal employees are able to share what life is like in their offices, showcasing the company’s perks and culture. They are also able to share how they socialize and come together as a community, both at work and outside of the office. Any company can use a set hashtag to showcase its unique culture and community, and can use the resulting posts as free and engaging content on their own page! Does your staff always have the most impressive Halloween costumes? Do a few of your employees volunteer once a week? Do you rock a monthly office karaoke? Show it off! When it comes to forming trust in a company, there’s no better referral than authentic endorsements from its own happy employees!
By utilizing social media, you have the opportunity to show your customers and potential clients what is important to your company. It might be your awesome company culture, your commitment to customer service, your playful nature, or your unwavering excellence. Decide what that is and start to use your social media accounts to share it with the world!
Create a policy or guide around your social media presence
Once you have decided how you want to use your company’s social media accounts, you need to decide who has access to those accounts and what policies they will stick to when using them. As far as managing the account goes, it might be best to limit the number of people who are in charge, so as to best stick to your set tone and policies, and to minimize that potential for mistakes. When it comes down to making a decision about what policies to follow, start by thinking about what will help support your company’s goals, and go from there.
There is no need to overthink the kinds of policies you want to set, they can be really simple, like saying:
“Never share sensitive or confidential data with the public.”
You may not THINK that you have to lay out rules like that, but you would be surprised by what kinds of things people might not consider before sharing something on social media.
Ideally, the policies you set are less of a strict list of rules and are more of a few guidelines that help to direct you. Social media is constantly changing, so keep in mind that it would be beneficial to revisit your policies every once in a while to make sure your company is keeping up with the times. At its best, a set of social media policies is simple to understand, ever-evolving, concise, and straightforward. With a comprehensive and well-thought-out policy, you can stick to your brand identity and tone, outline how to manage social media while remaining compliant with laws regarding privacy, confidentiality, and copyright, and encourage employees to interact with and promote your brand.
Decide which social media platforms will help you reach your target audience
When it comes to social media, a world of ever-growing and ever-evolving options is available to you, so it is important to know about some of the bigger platforms and understand what each one does.
Pew Research has shown that Facebook and YouTube are the most popular platforms, and their users are the most broadly representative of the population as a whole; meaning that those platforms can likely help you reach the widest audience. Facebook’s official stated purpose is that people use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, discover what’s going on in the world, and share and express what matters to them. Based on its intended purpose, Facebook is a great tool for small, local businesses looking to connect within their own communities.
While it may sound tempting to throw your name out where the largest number of people might happen to see it, if you are trying to grow your company or drive more business your way, it might be best to focus on a target or niche audience. If you know your market, you will be more likely to find an engaged, active, and bought-in audience.
Of course, the type of business you have is another indicator of which social media site would work best to reach your target audience. Age demographics also play a role in which platform will reach the people you want to reach. Do your research, understand who uses which social media and why, and find what works for you!
Starting Your Social Media Journey
Utilizing social media platforms gives you the power to directly interact with your most loyal customers, your employees, similar businesses, and potential clients. With proper use, social media can show off what makes your business wonderful and give your customers a place where they can learn more about you.
Remember, start out by finding out what your customers are saying about you across review sites. You can do it for free right now with Top Rated Local! From there, you can start taking control of your online reputation and extending and promoting that reputation across whichever social media platforms work best for you and your business!
Don’t forget to check out the continuation of this article: Using Social Media to Improve Your Reputation, Part 2: Managing Your Profiles