The Impact of Social Media on Your Online Reputation

If social media isn’t an important part of your business’ reputation management strategy, it needs to be, because the truth is that…

Social Media Can Make or Break Your Online Reputation

Your online reputation consists of more than just your reviews on Yelp or Google; it encompasses every aspect of how your customers and prospective customers see your business — which absolutely includes your business’ social media presence. In this blog, we’ll explore the many ways that you can use social media to build the kind of brand you want online.

#1. Social media gives you direct access to your audience.

Whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, each and every one of your social media profiles gives you a way to speak to your audience directly. Most methods of communication between a business and its audience are more general, like direct mail, newsletters or email blasts, but with social media, you can send a message to a wide audience while also connecting with your customers one on one.

#2. Social media gives you a chance to respond to feedback publicly.

While you can respond to reviews on Yelp, Google and every other review site, nothing beats responding to a review on Facebook. And the reason for this is that responses on Facebook are more visible and readily available to your audience. Whether you’re responding to positive or negative reviews, doing so on Facebook will help you to show off your customer service chops to an audience that pays close attention, rather than just to whoever happens to look at the review on Yelp or Google.

#3. Social media gives you the opportunity to share your story.

As we mentioned, social media gives you a chance to connect with your audience on a deeper level, more emotional level and share your story with them. Stories are one of your most powerful mediums for making a connection with customers and prospective customers, because people can relate to stories and humanize your business. Stories tug at the heartstrings, making your brand more memorable.

#4. Social media allows you to share the ways you give back.

Giving back to your community not only buys you karma points, but it also does great things for your reputation offline. However, with the help of social media, you can harness the power of giving back to improve your online reputation as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should brag about donating to a charity or volunteering; there are a lot more subtle ways to let the world know about your philanthropic endeavors. One great option is to post group photos of your team volunteering or to share information about an upcoming event a charity you sponsor is holding. You could also use Facebook and other social media platforms to raise funds for nonprofits and other charities.

#5. Social media is the perfect place to brag about individual employees.

Sure, your business’ reputation is important for attracting new people to your service or products, but it goes beyond that. Your reputation also affects your team, including what kind of employees you can attract, as well as the satisfaction of your existing employees. The unemployment rate is low right now in the U.S., which means that employees have options, which means that maintaining a reputation they can be proud of and a work environment they thrive in will go a long way toward keeping great people on your team.

You can use social media to both improve your reputation and build employee morale by highlighting your team’s accomplishments, as well as individual employees who stand out. If you have an employee of the month program, don’t keep it internal; share it on social media!

#6. Social media makes it possible to highlight the impacts of your service or products.

Small- to medium-sized businesses impact individual lives throughout the United States each and every day. Whether it’s a jewelry store that helped to recreate or salvage an old family heirloom or a restoration company that helps a homeowner regain peace of mind after a flood or a fire, businesses are making a difference in people’s lives. If a customer shares a story with you about how your business impacted them, share it on social media (with their permission of course)!

#7. Social media allows you to share your mission and your vision for the future.

Customers who are bought into your company want to know what your plans and goals are for the future, and there’s no better place to share it when them than on social media. Your company’s mission — the “why” behind what you do each and every day — is something that you should absolute share with your audience. It takes a lot of time and effort to run a business, and chances are, you aren’t doing it because you have luke-warm feelings toward the business. No, you do what you do because it drives you and because you are passionate about it. And sharing that passion — as well as what you hope to achieve through it — will reinforce loyalty in your existing customers and give new customers a reason to choose you over the competition; plus, it will help to shape your entire social media brand.

#8. Social media is a great place to share your successes.

When your business receives an award or some other form of recognition, where and how do you share it? Do you send an email, push it out on a newsletter or even write a press release? All of these are great options, but the best is simply to share it with your followers on social media. This type of recognition will help to further separate you from your competition and give consumers a reason to choose you. Plus, it’s also a great time to build employee morale by recognizing your team’s efforts in your achievements.

Social media plays a big role in your business’ online reputation — make the most out of it.

Social media is a powerful thing in many ways, but when it comes to your reputation, it could be your saving grace or the straw that broke the camel’s back. Luckily, with a little time, hard work and know-how, you can harness the power of social media to make your reputation everything you want it to be.

Is your business listed on Top Rated Local®? If not, become a Top Rated Local business by getting listed today — best of all, it’s 100-percent free, and it’s a great tool for managing your online reputation and overcoming common hurdles, like competitor reviews and fake reviews.

Employer Reputation 101: What Can I Do?

In part one of this two-part blog series, we discussed the ins and outs of employer reputation. So now, you’re probably wondering how you can make sure yours is spotless. As an online reputation platform, we know what it takes to keep your employer brand phenomenal. Here, we’ll teach you how to maintain and expand your employer reputation using the “BE REAL” method, which is an acronym we came up with, just now. Just read this, and let us help you out!

Be Active

Staying involved in your business’ online reputation isn’t just important when it comes to your clientele; it’s a vital part of managing your employer brand. If you want to be appealing to the best talent and future customers alike, you need to be actively responding to and improving upon any feedback you receive. Not only will this help your reputation, but it’ll help your overall business.

Employ The Right People

If you hire candidates who aren’t right for the jobs you have to offer, they are never going to be happy with your company, and they’ll make that abundantly clear to others. It’s time to get strategic about the people you hire. You want people who not only can do the job and do it well but who will give you open and honest feedback because they want to see your company grow and thrive. This all comes with treating people well. 

Respond Correctly

Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. People aren’t giving you negative feedback because they want to be mean or see you fail; it’s because they want to see your business and the people involved with it thrive. If you receive a negative employee review on a public forum, like Glassdoor, respond politely and with a genuine willingness to improve, while still maintaining integrity to your brand and vision. It will make a huge difference in most cases.

Encourage Feedback

Without receiving feedback, there is no way for you to get a good grasp on your employer brand, because, well, you have no employer brand. That is — not one that you can see. People are going to talk about whether or not your business is a good place to work. That is inevitable. You want that feedback to be out in the open so you can respond to and grow from it. You also want your employees to be comfortable publicly declaring their pride in your company to level out the feedback you’re receiving.

Assess Your Brand

As with anything in business, you’ll want to routinely check in on your employer brand, especially online. This all goes back to staying active in your employer reputation. Check-in with employees both in-house and on websites, like Glassdoor, every so often just to make sure you’re getting up-to-date feedback. 

Listen To Your Employees

This is the big one — the absolute, most important thing to do if you want to make sure your business looks good as a place to work. You won’t stop getting negative feedback if you don’t actually build your business around the feedback you receive. At the end of the day, it is your job to run your company, and that means treating your team well. Your employees are the backbone of your company. These people have dedicated themselves to your dream and your success. Make sure they know how much you care through your actions. 

Try Top Rated Local®

At Top Rated Local, we are passionate about helping businesses thrive. Using our proprietary Rating Score™ system, you can get up-to-date information regarding your business’ overall online reputation. Sign up today and utilize our tools to grow your business!

Employer Reputation 101: What It Is

All business owners know how important it is to have happy customers, but what about happy employees? Obviously, you want them to be happy and thrive in their workplace, but are they? How do you find out? Where do you find out? In part one of this two-part blog, we’ll answer these questions and more, as well as discuss the basics of employer branding and help you get a good grasp on what exactly that means. Be sure to check back for part two to find out what you can do to make sure yours is great.

What is an employer brand? 

Your employer brand is a huge part of your business’ overall reputation. Essentially, it is a reflection of how good (or bad) of a workplace your company is. If your employees are happy and treated well, your employer brand will be great. Otherwise, it won’t. It’s as simple as that. 

Why do I need a good employer brand?

A great employer brand is key to any business’ success, especially when it comes to growth. Your employees dedicate the vast majority of their time to your business. They deserve an excellent workplace and will be vocal about whether or not they like working for you. Try thinking about it this way — of the companies you know with terrible employer practices and a bad employer reputation, how many are succeeding? How many were doing better before they developed a poor reputation? Which ones haven’t bounced back because they refused to improve or work on their employer brand? 

Where can I find out how I’m doing?

Finding out how well your business is doing reputation-wise doesn’t take as much investigative work as one might think. There are online platforms, like Glassdoor, Inhersight (which specifically rates the woman-friendliness of companies), and Indeed, where employees can give open and honest, anonymous feedback. It’s incredibly easy to find out about your business’ overall employer brand by either checking these sites or simply doing a general Google search. 

Beyond the world of the internet, you can utilize older techniques to gauge employee happiness. Believe it or not, even in the modern era, people still talk face to face. Finding ways to accept anonymous feedback at work and in real-time could be a huge asset to your company’s overall brand reputation. This doesn’t mean asking your employees directly how they feel about the company. This means setting up an anonymous feedback form, either online or off, for your team to tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.

Let Top Rated Local® Help

At Top Rated Local, we’re here to help small businesses thrive. Through our proprietary Rating Score™ system, you can get a glimpse of the cumulative reputation you’ve built with both customers and your team. We know how challenging it can be to build your business’ online reputation. However, using the right tools, using our tools, it can become a whole lot easier. Sign up for a free Top Rated Local profile today.

How Facebook’s Changing Review System Affects Your Top Rated Local® Experience

Facebook is in the process of switching from their traditional Reviews system to a system that focuses only on Recommendations. Wondering what this means for Top Rated Local® users? We can help you with that. Here are the ‘need-to-knows’ regarding these changes.

This Change Will Be Gradual

Although Facebook Recommendations are fully replacing Facebook Business Reviews, this won’t happen all at once. At the moment, Facebook business pages are showing both Facebook Business Reviews and Facebook Recommendations. 

Facebook Is Implementing a Proprietary Star Rating System

While users can currently rate their experience with businesses on a scale of one to five stars through the Reviews program, they will instead be able to only recommend or not recommend a business when this new system is put into place. Instead of a cumulative star rating, Facebook will create a proprietary rating score based on how many people do or do not recommend a page. This score is influenced by people leaving recommendations directly on the page itself or recommending it to their Facebook Friends. No data regarding pages’ individual overall ratings is available at this time.

This Feature Is Still Undergoing Testing

Since this feature is so new, it is still being tested out to ensure it runs as well as possible for its users. Because of this, some Facebook users only see the option to recommend businesses and others still see the reviews option. 

We Temporarily Cannot Provide a Specific Number for Facebook

Because we rely solely on consistent and accurate data, we are unable to provide specific Facebook data during this phase. When the new system is complete, that may change. For now, we will continue to have Facebook source links on the page, marked as “see recommendations.” Facebook will continue to impact business’ overall Rating Scores™.


10 Tips for Generating More Reviews for Your Business

Online reviews are an essential part of your business’ online presence, but getting your customers to leave them can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.

Reviews are the lifeblood of your online reputation.

There’s nothing more important to your online reputation than reviews. Over the last several years, more and more people have started reading, trusting and relying on reviews to guide them in purchasing decisions online, and if your business doesn’t have many reviews, you’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re greatly undermining your business’ credibility online.

If you haven’t already, check out our last blog — Why You Should Start Asking for Reviews — to learn more about why people don’t often write reviews on their own (except for negative reviews), the many reasons as to why reviews are so important to the success of your business both online and offline, and why asking for a review doesn’t have to be taboo or sketchy.

Once you have a great understanding of just how impactful reviews can be for your business and why it’s important to ask for them, it’s time to talk about how you can generate more of those reviews for your business.

10 Tips to Help You Generate More Reviews

Tip #1. Make sure your clients know where to find you.

Which review sites is your business listed on — Google, Facebook, Yelp or Top Rated Local®? And which review sites are you most interested in your clients posting reviews on? Once you determine these things, it’s important to share that information with your clients. As we talked about in our last blog, getting clients to write reviews is difficult enough as it is in the first place, and when you make them hunt for which sites your business is listed on, it makes the prospect of them actually writing a review even bleaker.

Make sure that you make it clear to your customers where to find you both online and offline. Online, you could put badges on your website of the sites you’re listed on, or you could simply add a hyperlinked request for feedback at the bottom of your website. Offline, you could hang posters in your store or office about where to find the business online, and of course, it never hurts to ask a customer to write a review on a specific site in person, either.

Tip #2. Follow up with an email.

Most successful businesses understand that their job is not complete when the product is delivered or the service has been completed; the job is only done when you’ve followed up and learned that the customer is happy. Following up with an email in itself is a great way to demonstrate to your clients that you truly care and to find out how their experience was. It also shows a remarkable dedication to customer service, and your customers will surely take notice.

However, perhaps the biggest benefit of following up with your clients in an email is that you can easily direct them to the review sites your business is listed on without having to actually ask for a review in so many words. Simply include a link to the review site you would like them to post on, which a note that says something along the lines of, “Please share your feedback with others,” or, “Your feedback is important to us!”

Tip #3. Make sure that your customers know how much reviews matter!

Most people don’t leave reviews, even if they’ve had a spectacular experience, and it’s not because they are lazy or they don’t care whether or not the business succeeds. The truth is that, even though the vast majority of consumers read and rely on online reviews, most people simply don’t understand how essential online reviews are to the success of your business. That’s exactly why it’s important that you educate them!

If a customer tells you in person or over the phone how happy they are with your service, make sure they understand how valuable it will be for your business if they write a review about their experience. If you’ve genuinely done a great job, and they are truly happy with your service, they will have zero reservations about wanting to help you out by leaving you a review.

Tip #4. Request a review in a handwritten note.

Following up in an email is a great, relatively easy way to gauge your customers’ experience and ask for reviews, but an even better way to do so is with a hand-written note! This is especially powerful if you or a member of your team has been working one on one with the customer, and you’ve gotten to know them a more personal level than your typical client/business relationship.

Taking the time to thank them for their business, ask them for feedback and let them know where they can publish a review in your own handwriting will make a big impact. For one thing, it shows them that you actually care enough to take a few minutes out of your busy day to remember their name and the service or product you provided for them, and it will give them a better reason to take a few minutes out of their busy day to go online and write a review!

Tip #5. Incentivize your clients to write reviews.

When you’re following up with your clients — regardless of whether you do so via email or a handwritten note — you can encourage them to write a review in more ways than just asking them or mentioning where your business is listed. A little incentive never hurts, and you could give them a little more encouragement by including a gift card, a discount or some other promotion.

A note on incentivizing reviews:

It’s very important that you take note of the order in which your asking for a review and giving your clients an incentive. You should never give someone a gift with the understanding that it’s payment for a review — this is strictly prohibited and a very shady way to go about doing business. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to give them a gift regardless of whether they write a review or not, even if you’re doing so in the hopes that they will write one. The distinction is very fine, but it’s incredibly important for people who want to run ethical businesses.

Tip #6. Incentivize your employees to request reviews.

It can be a little awkward for business owners to directly ask their clients for reviews, and the same goes for your employees, too. When your employees ask for a review, it can feel almost like they’re asking to be rewarded for doing the job they’re paid to do — we get it. However, your employees make up the front lines of your business. They are who your customers interact with on a day-to-day basis, and they have the power to generate the most reviews for your business.

One of the best ways to help your employees get over the awkwardness of asking for reviews is by incentivizing them to get reviews. Here are a few ideas on how to do so:

  • Have a contest to see which employee can get generate the most reviews.
  • Give your employees a bonus or an extra hour of paid time off when they’ve been mentioned in a specific number of reviews.
  • Every time an employee is mentioned in a review, call it out and recognize them.
  • Have a raffle! Anytime someone gets a review, they get a raffle ticket, and at the end of the month, draw a ticket and reward your winner!
  • Use the information you’ve gathered in feedback or reviews when making decisions about raises and bonuses.

Tip #7. Make it convenient for your clients to leave you a review.

Review sites don’t let just anyone leave reviews. If your client wants to leave a review on Facebook, for example, they have to be logged into Facebook in order to do so. The same goes for leaving reviews on Yelp, Google and every other review site. If your clients aren’t already active or don’t at least already have a login on these sites, the chances of them writing a review are slim to none, because not very many people would be willing to create a whole new account just to leave a review they aren’t inclined to write in the first place.

This means that you’ll get a lot more success out of requesting reviews if you do your best to make it convenient and easy for your clients to leave them for you. The best way to do this is to simply ask your clients how they found you. If they found you via Yelp, for example, or Facebook, there’s a strong chance that they already have an account on that platform and won’t have to take the extra steps of creating one.

Another way that you can make it easier for your clients to actually leave you a review is by offering free high-speed internet in your office or store. This way, you can ask them during the interaction and make it easy for them to write a review right then and there, and they won’t have to remember to do so later on.

Tip #8. Show your human side.

If you’ve spent much time talking to customers on the phone or communicating via email, you are probably already well aware of the fact that this method of communication can be dehumanizing. When people are interacting with you in these ways, it’s easier for them to talk down to you or be otherwise nasty because they don’t see your human side. Furthermore, it’s also easier for them to take things you say out of context.

One of the best ways to remedy this problem is by showing your clients your human side through face-to-face interactions. Whenever possible, try to have in-person meetings with your clients. And if your business is one that operates mostly over the phone and/or through email, you can remedy the problem by doing video calls or by sending a quick video thank you after the service has been rendered or the product has been delivered.

The bottom line is that, when your customers can see your face, it automatically makes them more compassionate, more friendly and much more willing to write a review for your business.

Tip #9. Give your customers a reason to write a review!

As we briefly touched on in our last blog, people who have had a negative experience are a lot more likely to take the time to write a review than people who have had a positive experience, and customer service by itself is often not enough to compel someone to leave a review. However, that doesn’t mean customer service isn’t important and that focusing on it isn’t an effective way to generate reviews.

In fact, in order to generate the kind of reviews you want and the kind that will make your business’ online reputation strong, you need to truly wow your clients so that they have something to talk about. Whether this means answering your phone at one in the morning to assuage their concerns, going back and fixing an issue free of charge or going the extra mile in the service you provide is completely up to you, but regardless of what you do, make sure it’s something that will make your clients want to spread the word.

Tip #10. Know when to ask!

So far, we’ve given you a lot of tips on how to ask for reviews, but perhaps just as important is when you ask for them, especially when you want quality reviews instead of just any reviews. For example, if your customer is incredibly upset and in the middle of yelling at you, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a review. On the other hand, if you’ve just solved an issue for them and earned back their trust with great service, it’s the perfect time to ask!

Take the first step towards being in control of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!

When it comes to your business’ online reputation, almost nothing is more important than generating reviews, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle, and luckily, Top Rated Local can help you find the rest of the tools you need to build the kind of online reputation you want. And the best part is that you have absolutely nothing to lose because it’s free to get listed!

List your business with Top Rated Local today for free!

Why You Should Start Asking for Reviews

Reviews are not always easy to come by, but they are an essential part of your business’ success, both online and off. Consider the fact that 97 percent of customers read online reviews, and you’ll see just how powerful they can be, and why your business can’t survive without them.

There’s no better way to get reviews than to ask!

There are many business owners out there who don’t like the idea of asking for reviews. They seem to think that any reviews that result from asking won’t be genuine or honest. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you’re asking you’re asking your customers to write a review based on their experience instead of dictating what you would like them to say in the review. By asking for reviews, all you’re asking for is feedback and for a glimpse into their experience with your business.

However, if you’re still one of those business owners who is on the fence about asking for a review, you should know that you’re not alone, and today, we’ve set out to help you understand just how important reviews are and why you should ask every customer for one.

8 Reasons to Start Asking for Reviews

#1. Bad reviews come more naturally than good ones.

When we’ve had a bad experience, it’s human nature to want to talk about it and share it. Clifford Nass, who teaches communications at Stanford University said on the matter:

“Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”

You might be surprised to learn that the reasons for this aren’t just psychological; they’re physiological. Here’s what Professor Nass had to say about it:

“The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.”

So you see, the need to share bad experiences is wired into us. In fact, a survey of that was conducted by Dimensional Research found that respondents who had bad interactions were 50 percent more likely to share their experience on social media than respondents who had positive interactions and they were 52 percent more likely to share it on a review site, like Yelp or Google.

#2. Most people won’t write reviews on their own.

While 97 percent of consumers will read reviews before buying a product or hiring a company for a service, according to Pew Research, only about one in 10 Americans will actually write reviews consistently.

Another survey, that was conducted to determine how often customers leave reviews for local businesses found that:

  • Approximately 36 percent of respondents said they never leave reviews.
  • Approximately 25 percent said they almost never leave reviews.
  • Approximately 26 percent said they leave one to five reviews per year.
  • Approximately 8 percent said they leave reviews 6 to 11 times per year.
  • Approximately 5 percent said they leave 12 or more reviews per year.

No matter how happy you make your clients or how much you go above and beyond the call of duty, the sad truth is that most of them probably won’t take the time to write a review for you. However, there is hope, and it lies in asking for reviews!

You might be surprised to learn that, even though so few people will write reviews on their own, about 70 percent of consumers are willing to take the time to write a review for your business, you just have to be willing to ask them to!

#3. Reviews can boost your website’s SEO.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital part of any business’ success these days because it determines where you rank when people search for important terms related to your business, or even when people search for your business name! And the most important lesson of modern marketing is — if your business doesn’t show up on page one, it may as well not exist.

This is not to say that your business isn’t important or that you’ll never get any traffic to your website if you don’t show up on page one, but considering the fact that 75 percent of people never even get past the first page of results on search engines, if your business isn’t listed on page one, you’ll have a much smaller pool of visitors to work with.

How do reviews help with SEO? Reviews help your site rank in a number of essential ways — they can increase your click-through rate, help to establish trust in your business, increase the amount of unique content associated with your website and more. In fact, it’s estimated that reviews make up for approximately 10 percent of the factors that go into how businesses are ranked on search engines — which is a fairly high percent when you consider the vast array of other things Google’s algorithm picks up on, like site speed, site authority, the quality of the content, etc.

The bottom line is that, while reviews probably shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on if you want to improve your website’s organic rankings, getting reviews should certainly be a key part of your strategy.

#4. Reviews make your customers feel heard and important.

Whether you’ve provided someone with a truly great experience or a not-so-great experience, people like to express themselves and want to be heard when they do. When you ask your customer to give you feedback on their experience in the form of a review, you’re demonstrating to them that you truly value what they have to say and care about their opinion.

Even if you or your team dropped the ball with a customer, taking the time to ask them to write a review and share their feedback could help to steady the course. This is especially true if you utilize their feedback to make changes within your business. Because you took the time to ask that they share their feedback in a review and listened to that feedback, they now feel like they are involved in your business and had a hand in shaping your services or products.

#5. Reviews help to increase conversions and sales.

Do you sell products online? Did you know that including product reviews on your product pages themselves could actually help you make more sales? One study found that 63 percent of customers are more likely to purchase a product with a review than a product without a review. Another study found that by simply having reviews on your website, you can increase your sales by up to 18 percent, which is incredibly impactful, particularly since most e-commerce websites only covert at one to three percent.

Not only does having reviews on your products help to increase sales, but as we discussed in our third point, those reviews will also help your products rank higher in search results!

#6. Reviews help you gain insightful feedback into your business.

Most business owners understand how important is it for their customers and clients to leave happy and satisfied with their service, and their number one goal is to earn that satisfaction. If this describes the kind of business owner you are, then you should know that there’s no better way to get real, honest feedback about your business than in a review.

Asking for feedback in person is great, and while most people will be fairly honest with you in person, some aren’t willing to complain or seem rude in order to get a point across. However, when you ask for a review, it gives them a chance to be truly honest and straightforward about their experience without having to actually look you in the eye.

While not every review will have substantive feedback that will help you mold your business into one that better suits your clients and meets their needs, the more reviews you get, the more insight you’ll have.

One other reason as to why reviews are so important is that they give you a glimpse into how your customers perceive your business. Perception is reality, and when you’re busy helping customers and getting things done in the moment, it’s not always to figure out how your customers are perceiving your business. But when you are able to read their review, you’ll know exactly how they perceive you.

#7. Reviews make your business appear more credible.

Back in the day before people started searching for everything from plumbers to coffee on the internet, most people turned to their friends and neighbors for referrals when they needed to work with a new business or buy a new product. And while word of mouth is still incredibly powerful today, the vast majority of consumers will first look to a Google search on their mobile phone before calling a friend for a recommendation. These days, reviews haven’t exactly replaced word of mouth, but they are the modern-day equivalent.

It’s not easy to trust a business you don’t know or have never heard of with your money, and reviews help to provide consumers with more confidence about their purchasing decisions. If they can see that you have a lot of reviews, they’ll see your business as more credible and trustworthy because other people have vetted your business for them.

It’s for this reason that having a negative review or two is so important as well. If you have all five-star reviews, a lot of people see that as fishy and will automatically assume that at least some of those reviews are fake. Consumers understand that the people who operate businesses are human beings who make mistakes, and when you have a mix of both positive and negative reviews, it brings out your humanity and helps to establish more trust and credibility.

#8. Reviews help to make all of your marketing efforts more effective!

Marketing is an important part of getting your name out there and spreading the word about what you do, but it takes an investment of time and money in order for it to be effective. But luckily, reviews can help to make your marketing efforts more effective and successful for free!! Here’s how:

  • Reviews give your marketers insight into what truly matters to your clients, which will help them to highlight those features in ads.
  • Reviews help your marketers understand the kind of language your clients are using when they search for your product or brand online, which they can use to further boost your organic online presence.
  • Reviews can provide valuable knowledge to your marketers about which product or service gets talked about the most so that they can highlight and feature them on your website and in ads.
  • Reviews tell your marketers which questions need to be answered and which concerns need to be mollified in ads or descriptions.

Now that you know why it’s important to ask for reviews, it’s time to learn how to ask for them, which we’ll be discussing in our next blog.

With Top Rated Local®, you’re in control over your online reputation.

Asking for reviews is an essential part of maintaining the kind of online reputation you want, but a good online reputation involves more than just getting reviews. And with Top Rated Local, you’ll have all of the tools you need available to you to help you build and maintain the kind of online presence you want for your business. Best of all, this one-of-a-kind program helps to eliminate all of those things that trip up business owners when it comes to their online reputation, like fake reviews, competitor reviews and more. Not only does this help businesses keep dishonest and fake information from ruining their online reputations, but it also gives consumers a more honest insight into what working with the business is really like.

If you’re ready to start taking your online reputation into your hands, get your business listed for free today!

Common Myths About Online Reputation Management Part 2

Every business owner wants to have the kind of online reputation that help them get noticed and attract new customers because, in this day and age, the kind of online reputation you have can make or break your business. But it’s important that you don’t let the many myths about online reputation management hold you back from reaching your goals.

It’s time to stop believing the myths about reputation management.

Online reputation management seems straightforward enough, but it’s a topic that’s widely misunderstood, particularly by the people who need to understand it most — business owners! A great online reputation can make a world of difference for any small business, but in order to build that kind of online reputation, it’s vitally important that you know the facts about online reputation management.

That’s why, in our previous blog, we separated the myths from the facts by going over five of the most common myths about online reputation management. Keep reading to learn about five more.

Five More Myths About Online Reputation Management.

Myth #6. You should never ask a client to write you a review.

Over the past year and a half, Top Rated Local has been recognizing the top 100 businesses in each state in the U.S., as well as the top five businesses across a variety of industries. We’ve reached out and interviewed the owners of many of these businesses so that we highlight their victories and learn about their path to success.

One of the first questions we ask these business owners is, “What is your secret to such a strong online reputation?” Around half of the business owners we interview proudly tell us that they aren’t afraid to ask for reviews; while, the other half seems to think that asking for a review means that it’s somehow illegitimate. Well, we’re here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for reviews, and it’s actually one of the best ways to ensure that people actually take the time to write you one.

Why there’s nothing wrong with asking for a review.

When you’re asking for a review, you’re not asking for a five-star review or for your client to say certain things in your review. You’re simply asking for feedback so that you can continue to serve your clients to the best of your ability. You’re also asking for your client to share their experience with others so that they can make more informed decisions about what they need.

Myth #7. If you have good customer service, your online reputation will take care of itself.

In this day and age, good customer service goes a long way, and that’s true regardless of the size of your business and regardless of what industry you’re in. However, when it comes to your online reputation, good customer service often falls short.

People expect great service, and oftentimes, it takes a whole lot of time and energy to really wow someone. And even if you are able to make them stop and take notice based on your customer service alone, a lot of people just don’t think about going online to write a review — unless it’s negative of course.

Did you know?

Customers who are unhappy or have had a bad experience are up to three times more likely to write a review on their own than customers who are satisfied or happy. It’s simply in human nature to want to air our grievances.

The bottom line is that you can’t rely on your customer service chops alone if you want a great online reputation. Whether it’s responding to reviews, making sure your information is up to date on review sites or managing your website’s search engine optimization, there are lots of things you can do to make sure you have the kind of online reputation you want.

Myth #8. You can quickly boost your online reputation by posting fake reviews.

If you’re just starting out or you haven’t worked up the courage to ask your customers for reviews, you may be operating under the misconception that you can simply write your own to at least make it look like you have a decent reputation. However, posting fake reviews can do a lot more harm than good, and not only is it a deceitful practice, but believe it or not, it’s also illegal.

In order to help you understand the potential consequences, here’s a quick story:

A few years ago, an undercover operation found that 19 businesses were posting fake reviews on Yelp and Google. These businesses had to pay a $350,000, and if any one of them was caught posting fake reviews again, they’d be permanently banned from registering their business on the site or posting any reviews on it.

As you can see, you risk more than just losing your customers’ trust when you post a bad review; you risk your business’ entire reputation!

Myth #9. People don’t trust online reviews.

It used to be that when you were looking for a plumber or an electrician to hire, your first course of action was probably to ask your friends and neighbors who they’ve worked with. It’s no secret that word of mouth is a very powerful thing, and people are willing to trust the advice of their friends and neighbors more often than not. However, what many people don’t realize is that so many consumers trust online reviews just as much as they trust a personal recommendation — 84 percent of consumers in fact.

If you’ve got a bad review or two, it’s easy to write it off and believe that no one will pay attention to it or put any stock in it, but that simply isn’t true. When someone is looking for a business to work with online, the only way for them to gain any insight into who they are and what kind of service they provide is by reading the reviews, and more and more, people are putting their trust into those reviews.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that your reviews don’t matter or that people don’t believe what is said in them.

Myth #10. The star rating matters more than anything else.

A good average star rating on top review sites can go a long way toward helping you maintain the kind of online reputation you want, but you should know that the star rating only gives you part of the picture. If you’re only looking at the star rating, you’ll miss a lot of valuable feedback that you can use to make your company better and more successful. The star rating can be deceiving.

Consider this:

There was recently a company that got inundated with five-star reviews. Not one of those reviews had a single comment in them. Yes, all of those reviews helped to push the average star rating for the business up, but since they were all added at the same time and contain no information, people who spot them automatically come to the conclusion that they are fake, which can seriously undermine any business’ online reputation.

Getting the facts straight about reputation management is just the first step in the process.

Would you like to build a stronger, more powerful online reputation for your business? If so, you’ve already taken the first step simply by reading this blog series. Now that you know the truth about online reputation management, you have a leg up on your competition, but in order to truly take advantage of that leg up, you need to learn how to manage your online reputation properly, and that’s where we come in.

Top Rated Local was designed to give businesses more control over the pitfalls that can harm their online reputation, like fake reviews and competitor’s reviews, while also giving consumers a clear, unaltered view of what it’s really like to work with the business in question. And while signing your business up with Top Rated Local won’t be the only thing you should do to take ownership of your online reputation, it’s certainly a good place to start. And the best part is that it’s absolutely free to get started.

What are you waiting for? Your online reputation can be in your control, and Top Rated Local can help. Get your business listed for free today to take the first step toward building the kind of online reputation any business owner would envy!

Common Myths About Online Reputation Management

As a business owner, it behooves you to take your online reputation seriously. However, you can’t possibly take ownership over your online reputation if you don’t have the facts in front of you.

Too many business owners still believe the myths about reputation management.

These days, a business’ online reputation means everything, and managing your business’ online reputation should be at the top of your to-do list. But the problem is that you can’t possibly effectively manage your online reputation if you still believe the many common myths there are out there about online reputation management. That’s why we’ve set out to set the record straight about many of those myths.

The First Five Myths About Online Reputation Management

Myth #1. Your business’ online reputation is out of your hands.

There are a lot of things about your reputation that you don’t have control over. For example, you can’t dictate what’s in a review or determine which reviews people see. However, that’s not to say that you have no control over your business’ online reputation. In fact, you have a lot more control over it than you might think.

Managing your online reputation takes time and energy, but don’t fret; it can be done. And in fact, it’s vitally important to the success of your business that you take ownership and properly manage your online reputation.

There are so many effective ways to manage your online reputation, and you can learn about quite a few of them when you check out our previous blog series — Online Reputation Management Tips All Businesses Should Be Aware Of. However, the first step you should take is to determine where you’re at currently, and a great way to do that is to simply google your business and start reading some reviews!

Once you know where you stand, it will give you the information you need to build the kind of online reputation you’ve always wanted.

Myth #2. It’s better to have no reputation at all than a bad one.

While it’s true that a bad reputation can spell trouble for any business, that doesn’t mean that it’s preferable not to have any kind of reputation at all. Think of your online reputation like your credit score. While yes, the fact that you’ve never missed a credit card payment or had some other ding on your credit may seem like a good thing at first, not having any sort of credit history or score is even worse. Just like with your credit score, when it comes to your online reputation, having zero reviews is just as bad — if not worse — than having negative reviews.

When a potential client or customer looks for your business online, and they see that you have zero reviews, they’ll likely think that your business is brand new and untested, that your business has tried to hide negative reviews or that your business is a scam.

On the contrary, if you have a few negative reviews, it’s not the end of the world. Negative reviews can actually give you a great opportunity to fix a mistake, regain trust and show off your customer service chops.

Myth #3. Reputation management and SEO have nothing to do with one another.

A lot of business owners mistakenly believe that their business’ online reputation is strictly about reviews. However, a lot goes into that online reputation, including press releases, comments on social media and a whole host of other content on the web. What comes up in the search results for your business names plays just as big of a role in your online reputation as the reviews themselves, and that’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

The first few search results that pop up when you search for your business name online say just as much about your business as any reviews do, and if those results aren’t exactly flattering for your business, you can use a little SEO magic to push those results down. This is done by improving the rankings of your website, listings, positive press releases and more.

First impressions matter, and you won’t any search results surrounding your business to be positive. Controlling the results that show up when someone searches for your business online is a vital part of managing your online reputation, and you can’t do that without a good SEO strategy.

Myth #4. There’s nothing good about a bad review.

It’s never fun to hear that an employee dropped the ball or that, even though you tried your hardest, a customer still wasn’t pleased with your business. Bad reviews can feel like blemishes on an otherwise perfect landscape, but as most business owners know full well, they are inevitable. At some point or another, your business will encourage a negative review. But it’s how you respond that really determines how that review will affect your online reputation.

Your first mistake when you get a bad review is to ignore it or try to hide it. In fact, a much better, much more effective strategy is to respond to every review, good or bad. Oftentimes, bad reviews are the result of a mistake or of miscommunication, and while a reviewer may seem incredibly upset online, an apology and a promise to make the situation right will often go a long way to turning a bad situation around. When you respond to a bad review, it puts the power back into your corner and allows you to make a memorable impression. You may even win back your customer in the meantime!

Learn about more of the benefits of bad reviews when you check out of the previous blog — 5 Ways That Bad Reviews Can Be a Good Thing for Your Business.

Did you know?

If your business only has five-star reviews, it could actually hurt you. People want to work with honest companies and understand that human beings make mistakes. A negative review or two shows that you are human, and a great response shows that you will go to any lengths to make a bad situation good.

Myth #5. You can hide or delete negative reviews.

Imagine this scenario: you are a busy business owner that goes out of your way to ensure that your customers always leave happy, and out of the blue, you’ve spotted a one-star review among the pack of five-star reviews your customers have given you. In situations like these, it’s easy to panic and try to get rid of the review, but even if it were possible to hide or delete negative reviews — it isn’t — you wouldn’t want to.

As we mentioned in our last point, having a few negative reviews among a lot of positive ones can make your business appear more legitimate and gives you a chance to show off your customer service skills. But there’s one more benefit of bad reviews that we didn’t discuss yet — bad reviews provide you with invaluable feedback.

Contrary to what many business owners believe, bad reviews aren’t typically written by angry ex-employees or competitors who have an agenda. Most bad reviews are customers’ honest experiences with your business, and if you want your business to be the best it can be, it behooves you to pay attention and learn from that feedback.

What if you do have illegitimate reviews?

While the vast majority of reviews on verified sites are legitimate and can’t be removed, there are occasional exceptions to the rule. If you believe that you have a fake review, you might be able to get it taken down depending on the site it was posted on. For example, Facebook will remove reviews that violate their Community Standards. Your first step toward getting a fake review taken down will be to research the policies of the site the review was posted to.

If the review site refuses to remove the fake review, one of your best courses of action will be to respond to the review, emphasizing the point that you can’t find their name in your records and inviting the reviewer to contact you to discuss the matter further.

Want to learn the truth about five more common myths about online reputation management? If so, make sure you check back later for part two of this blog series!

Take ownership of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!

Now that you know the truth about some of the most common myths about reputation management, it’s time to seize control over your online reputation once again. With Top Rated Local, you can avoid many of the most common reputation management pitfalls business owners deal with today, like fake reviews, competitor reviews and more, and your consumers will get an honest look at the kind of experience you offer. And the best part is that getting started is quick, easy and free!

Sign up today to become a Top Rated Local business and to start taking your online reputation back!

10 Ways Your Business Can Give Back to the Community Part 2

If you’ve had a chance to read many of our featured articles about Top Rated Local® award winners, then you are already familiar with the fact that we always make it a point to ask about a business’ mission and how they give back to the world and their community. While most of what we do is focused on a business’ online reputation, much of that online reputation is forged in their community, and it’s a key part in a business’ success.

Building a strong online reputation starts by building a strong reputation within your community.

Contrary to popular belief, your business’ online reputation is not a separate entity than your business’ reputation within your community. In fact, they are a lot more entwined than you might think. If you take a few minutes to think about all of those people who are writing reviews for your business and those people who are reading reviews about your business, you’ll find that most — if not all of them — are people who, like you, live and work in the community. They are your friends, family and neighbors, and what they think of you will absolutely be reflected in your business’ online reputation.

Because your reputation within your community plays such a vital role in your online reputation, in our last blog, we went over five ways that small businesses can give back to the community. Keep reading to learn about five more.

Five Things Your Business Can do to Give Back to Your Community

#6. Donate your services and skills.

When people think of volunteering, they often imagine themselves dishing out servings at a soup kitchen or building a house with Habitat for Humanity, but volunteering can be a lot more personal than that, especially if you’re in the service industry. In fact, one of the biggest ways you can give back and make a name for yourself as a giving company is to donate your services and skills!

As a professional, you’ve been educated and trained, and you have a very special set of skills that you can offer the world and your community. For example, if you’re a pet groomer, you could donate your skills by grooming animals at a shelter before an adoption event. If you are a roofer, you could donate roof repairs to people in need after a hail storm.

Not only does this apply to service-based businesses; businesses that sell products can also get in on the action by donating excess merchandise or out-of-season items.

#7. Have a collection jar.

As you can see, there are many avenues for giving back and being a more charitable business. Some of them take more time and energy than others, and if you’re looking for an easy, stress-free way to give back, you’ll love the simplicity of a collections jar. In fact, all you have to do is pick a charity/cause, make a sign and set out a jar, and your customers and clients will do the rest.

You may not get a whole lot of publicity by setting out a jar, but this is one of the simplest ways to start giving back, and the beauty of it is how little time and effort it takes on the part of the business owner or management.

#8. Offer up your space.

If you have a brick and mortar shop, warehouse or office, another super-easy way to give back is by simply offering up your space for charitable events. Reserving a venue can be pricey, and when nonprofits host events, you can greatly reduce their costs by offering up your space for free.

By offering up your space, not only are you giving back to a charity or organization without actually having to utilize your resources, but you’re also gaining invaluable visibility for your business.

#9. Go green!

In 2017, Cone conducted a survey to determine the importance of corporate social responsibility, and what they found was astounding:

  • 87 percent of respondents said that they view companies more positively when they support environmental or social issues.
  • 92 percent of respondents said that they are more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues.
  • 68 percent of millennial respondents say that they have bought a product that has a social or environmental benefit.

If you’ve been wondering whether or not consumers actually care about the environment, you’ve got your answer, and it’s a resounding yes. Making it a point to go green within your business is a great way to give back to the world and to your community while also curbing your energy costs and reducing your carbon footprint.

Going green doesn’t have to mean installing solar panels on your roof or investing in electric company vehicles. In fact, there are a ton of small changes you can make that make a huge impact:

  • Go paperless
  • Invest in company water bottles instead of disposable cups
  • Start recycling
  • Set your lights on timers

#10. Make giving back a part of your company’s culture.

A lot of people think of giving back as a one-time thing, like a donation or a volunteer way, but if you truly want your business to have a reputation as one that makes your community and the world a better place, it starts with your company culture. To do this, you need volunteerism and charity in your veins and in the DNA of your business.

One of the best ways to instill a sense of community and social responsibility in your company culture is by incentivizing giving back. For example, if one of your employees volunteers at the homeless shelter, allow him or her to dress casually for work or take an extra hour for lunch.

Giving back just makes you feel good, and a lot of times, it will just take a small push from you to encourage your employees to donate their time and/or money to a cause they are passionate about.

Build the kind of reputation you want online and offline.

Your business’ online and offline reputation go hand in hand, and every successful business owner understands the need to have a strong reputation both in their community and online. Making a name for your business as one that gives back and stands behind their community will help to make your local brand unbeatable, and here at Top Rated Local, we can help you make your online reputation one to remember as well.

By helping business owners avoid common pitfalls, like fake reviews, blackmail, competitor reviews and more, we can help you take more ownership of your online reputation and mold it into what you want it to be. In addition to reviews, we utilize five pillars of the customer experience, allowing your clients and customers to highlight what they think is most important, and giving you more valuable feedback than you’d get from reviews alone. Best of all, it doesn’t cost anything for you to become a Top Rated Local business!

Are you ready to build a strong reputation both online and in your community? If so, take the first step by listing your business for free with Top Rated Local today! Visit us online now to get started.

10 Ways Your Business Can Give Back to the Community Part 1

In every interview we have with our Top Rated Local® award winners, we ask what the business’ mission is and how they work to make the world a better place. Not only does this question help to highlight the humanity and passion in our award-winning businesses, but it also helps to highlight one very important piece of success for the modern-day business — giving back.

There are so many ways that your business can give back to your community and the world.

In our last article — The Benefits of Giving Back Your Community — we highlighted just a few of the ways that giving back and becoming a more socially conscious company can benefit your business. If you’ve had a chance to read it, then you know just how important giving back can be to your brand, your business and your success.

Making it a point to give back can help with everything from employee retention to productivity and brand recognition, and if you’d love to enjoy the many benefits of giving back, you’ll be glad to know that you have tons of options at your disposal. Giving back doesn’t have to look the same for your company as it does for another local business in your area, and with a little help from our team, you’ll find that there’s no shortage of possibilities at your disposal.

Five Things Your Business Can do to Give Back to Your Community

#1. Organize or sponsor a fundraiser.

There are so many ways to give back, and one of the most straightforward is to help financially support a cause that you’re passionate about. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to donate a huge chunk of your profits, either. Organizing or sponsoring a fundraiser for the cause or organization is a great way to raise money for that cause.

#2. Sponsor a local sports team!

Sports are as American as apple pie, and kids who participate in sports learn all kinds of invaluable lessons that they can take with them into adulthood, from how to have a healthy competitive spirit to sportsmanship and teamwork. However, not every child in the United States comes from a family that can afford to enroll them in even sports programs at public schools.

In fact, according to a TD Ameritrade survey, 63 percent of American families spend between $100 and $499 every month on youth sports. Fifty-five percent of those respondents said that they cut back on entertainment, 40 percent said they take fewer vacations and 23 percent said they cut back on retirement savings in order to cover the costs of youth sports.

This makes local recreational teams an essential and valuable asset for these people, and as a business, you can play a big part in that by sponsoring a local sports team.

#3. Encourage your team to volunteer.

As the owner of a small business, there are a lot of things that fall on your lap and no one else’s, but you’ll be glad to know that giving back to your community doesn’t have to be one of those things. Sure, you can and should lead by example, but one of the best ways to show the world that your business is one that cares is by giving back as a team.

One effective way to encourage your team to volunteer in the community is by giving them a certain number of paid volunteer hours — this way, they can volunteer for causes they are passionate about, they have more flexibility to choose when they volunteer and they are getting a break from the office and the day-to-day grind, improving their job satisfaction.

Another way you could encourage your employees to volunteer is to have an annual volunteer day where you shut down all business operations and volunteer as a team.

#4. Donate a portion of your profits.

One of the best ways to make a name for your business as one that gives back is to donate a portion of your profits. This can look like many different things:

  • You could donate a percentage of the profits from a specific day or time of the day.
  • You could donate a percentage of the profits from a specific product or service.
  • You could donate a percentage of the profits for categories of services or products.

Whatever route you choose, giving back in this way can benefit your business in a big way. When you advertise that a portion of the proceeds will go to a good cause, you’re also advertising your business and the product or service you want to highlight. Or, if you’re donating your profits based on a certain day or time, you’ll be driving more traffic during your business during those periods. Either way, it’s a win for you and your community!

#5. Support other local businesses.

When people think of giving back, they often think of donating money or volunteering their time, but it doesn’t have to be that straightforward. In fact, your day-to-day decisions, such as who you choose to source your materials from, can have a huge impact on your community, and one of the most effective ways to give back without having to sacrifice a whole lot of your time or money is to simply choose to work with other local businesses rather than large corporations.

There are a lot of great reasons to support local businesses — you’re putting money back into the community, you’re supporting local careers, you’re helping to keep the market competitive, etc. — but as a business, there are even more benefits. When you choose to work with a small business, you’re developing a valuable partnership and establishing beneficial community connections.

One other benefit of working with a local business is the increased access you’ll get. When you work with a corporate supplier, your business is just another number. But when you work with a local company, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with them face to face, which not only leads to better access but also better service.

Would you like to learn about five more ways that your business can give back to the community and make the world a better place? Stay tuned for part two!

Get listed for free on Top Rated Local to start taking control over your online reputation!

These days, it takes a great online and offline reputation to reach the widest audience, and while we can’t do much to help with your local reputation, we can help you take ownership of your online reputation and mold it into whatever you want it to be.

Unlike Yelp and the many other reviews sites out there, Top Rated Local is built on five pillars of the customer experience and designed to capture the overall customer experience like no other option out there. Top Rated Local empowers both businesses and consumers by solving everyday problems businesses face on typical reviews sites, like fake reviews, slanderous comments, blackmail, competitor reviews and more, and if you’d like to enjoy the many benefits of being a Top Rated Local business, it’s time to get started. The best part is that it’s absolutely free to get listed!

Take back your online reputation and become a Top Rated Local business by getting listed today!