Internet usage is at an all-time high: the average American spends 30 hours online every week. (For Millennials, the average is 40 hours!) Another key data point? More than half of mobile-web users interact with companies on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Do you know what people are saying about your brand on the web?
Because the internet offers so many chances for brand interaction, reputation management is more important than ever before. Here are nine best practices for monitoring and managing your business’ online reputation:
1. Optimize your website for Google search
You want Google to treat your website as the ultimate authority on your product (and, ideally, on the market segment in which you compete). Why? If Google ranks your site favorably, it will appear at or near the top of a search for your company name and terms specific to your industry.
KissMetrics provides a great guide on getting your website indexed by Google.
2. Establish a strong social media presence
By creating a Facebook page, Twitter profile and blog – and posting relevant content to those channels – you will both improve your search-engine rankings and improve how you interact with customers and prospects.
We’ve written about social-media tips and tricks in the past, so for reference, check out the RingCentral Connect archive.
3. Set up Google alerts
There are a bevy of expensive tools available to monitor your online presence, but you don’t need to spend a lot to see what people are saying about you across the web. We use Google alerts to let us know when the term “RingCentral” is mentioned – they show up every day in a short email.
Here’s what the notification looks like:
4. Monitor social networks and reply promptly
The simple fact is, people want companies to be available on social networks. According to Arnold Worldwide, close to 60 percent of consumers expect brands to respond to their social-media comments and queries.
It’s generally good to aim for a social response of no more than an hour or two. (Most businesses aren’t nearly this vigilant, so you can really stand out by striving to be responsive!)
5. Respond to reviews and comments
The last time you bought something online, did you read any reviews before clicking “Confirm Purchase”? You probably did! Product reviews are invaluable when you’re shopping online, and they can be hugely valuable to companies, too.
Not only can reviews help a business learn what people do and don’t like about its offerings – they offer an opportunity for the business to turn unsatisfied customers into raving fans.
6. Turn frowns upside down
Segueing from tip number five: the holy grail of customer support is satisfying an unhappy customer. If you can make this happen on the web, so much the better: successfully turning a negative experience around will leave evidence for customers and prospects to see. That, in turn, will help you demonstrate that you care about doing right by your customers.
7. Blog communications
Social networks are great for pushing out short communiques and providing customer support. For “long-form” communications, though – things like new-product announcements or market forecasts – a blog is ideal.
You shouldn’t expect your business blog to succeed beyond measure, or yourself to become the next Tim Ferriss. Rather, look at blogging as a way to share inside information on your company and engage with your most enthusiastic fans. It’s well worth the effort.
8. Ask happy customers to post reviews
It’s bad form to incent positive reviews with gifts or in-kind compensation. But there’s nothing wrong with simply suggesting that your happy customers say something nice about you on sites like Yelp, LinkedIn or Google Places. The worst that can happen is that they’ll refuse.
9. Feature positive reviews on your website/blog
If you have some positive reviews in hand, great work. They’re a marketing asset as strong (or stronger!) than anything else (whitepapers, datasheets, etc.) you may have put together. Why? Two words: social proof. We’re wired to look favorably on things other people view favorably – restaurants, cars, clothes or just about anything else.
Plus, third-party reviews’ objectivity is inherently valuable. When we say we have a great phone system, you may think, “Of course they’re going to say that.” But when an outlet like PC Magazine awards RingCentral Office an Editors’ Choice award – well, it means a little more coming from them.
Hope these tips are helpful. Let us know if you have any more to share!