In today’s PR and feedback economy, small businesses and startups must carry a strong web presence to grow. Many companies make the mistake of only utilizing a single website and a Facebook account as their presence. Think back to the last time you wanted to buy a product or service, did you only survey the company’s website, or did you seek word of mouth from previous customers on neutral third party sites for additional opinions?
The Internet allows content creation to the extreme, from social media to review sites like Angie’s List, your brand has unlimited possibilities for exposure that can make or break your business’ image. Businesses should be proactive in managing their brand by following the following techniques:
Achieving the top positions in search engines through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has historically been the main option for businesses to achieve greater online visibility; nevertheless, social media networks have gained a following strong enough to sand alongside SEO when gaining visibility. Millions of users span the various social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and now Google+. Small businesses should take advantage of the heavy social media usage by creating fan pages for the major social sites.
Businesses will need to keep their social media channels updated regularly. A neglected account is worse than no account at all and will only lead to negative PR; however, keep in mind that posting too much can lead to followers becoming annoyed and eventually stop following.
For example, a car dealership, after building a small following, posted close to twenty used cars consecutively on their Facebook wall, which led to over half of the dealerships 500+ followers to unfollow and some to even post on their wall in outrage for crowding their newsfeed.
Protecting the Company Image
Forums, discussion boards, and social networking sites can easily being a breeding ground for negative comments about your brand, and if a potential customer browses these comments while researching your business, odds are they will immediately start researching a competitor with a better image. To protect your brand from any potential cynics, online reputation managers must continuously be vigilant.
Businesses should also perform keyword searches on search engines to see what press is related to your brand. The best keyword searches are the ones that customers themselves will use. For instance, a term used to find complaints or reviews on your company could be “VA Mortgage Center reviews“. After finding all undesirable reviews, more advanced SEO techniques should also be used so that only sites that portray your company image are shown on the first page of results.
Complaints will happen, so be prepared in advance. Whether it is a complaint on your Facebook wall or on a neutral reviews site, handle it with speed and care. Do all you can to show the customer you are trying to rectify the situation. In some cases, nothing can be done to please a customer, but you should still do your best to show other customers that you are willing to resolve reasonable complaints. Keep in mind that not only negative reviews are worth commenting on. Thanking a customer that gives a great company review is a good way to build a brand advocate and encourages positive reviews on future purchases.
Brand management can lead to national and even global recognition, while minimizing PR disasters and complaints. If clients are able to easily find your business on one of the many channels available and see nothing but good things, you can guarantee your brand management efforts just resulted in a lead for the company.
About the Author: Matt Polsky is the Senior Content and Reputation Manager for VA Mortgage Center.com, providing insights learned from the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.