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Self-Employed

Five Principles for Managing Your Store's Online Reputation

Every business knows that managing its reputation is critical towards ensuring that customers become and stay interested. All businesses, and ecommerce businesses in particular, need to worry about protecting their online reputation given how many people will search their businesses to see whether they can be trusted.

Simply having a good product and quality customer service will go a long way to protect a store’s online reputation, but you cannot make everyone happy all the time. Here are a few ways in which you can protect your reputation by heading off complaints which some customers may have about your business.

  1. Look on the right websites.

There is more to protecting your online reputation than checking Yelp. Social media websites should have people talking about your business, and it is on you to manage it. Social media marketing is basically about protecting your reputation through the myriad websites out there.

It is impossible for any business to have a strong presence in every social media site, so start by making a presence on the two or three which pertain the most to your business. You should already know which websites are the most relevant. If you don’t, this guide should help you get started.

  1. Understand content marketing.

Your business cannot just make a Twitter account, post a few tweets saying that your business is awesome, and call it a day. Content marketing is a marketing strategy which relies on putting out all sorts of relevant or interesting information to keep customers attracted. A blog where you talk about how your business works is an excellent example of content marketing. Content marketing is cheaper than traditional approaches but requires consistency and a fair amount of creativity in order to compete with all the other businesses on the Internet doing the same thing.

Content marketing could fill a book, but here is a short guide to help you get acquainted with the concept. By continually putting out content, you can cement your business’s reputation as an interesting place which helps people thus counteracting the complaints which others make about your business.

  1. Look into professional services before things go wrong.

Online businesses have a bad habit of assuming that their online reputation is not a big deal, only to panic and overreact when negative reviews or online criticism hits. In fact, the act of hiring a PR firm after your reputation gets hit can make things even worse in the short term. Customers will get suspicious about whether critics’ accusations towards you may actually be true.

While hiring a professional online reputation management firm means additional expense, it is worth it when you consider the importance of your online reputation. Business News Daily has a good list of companies, but take care to do your own research. Pick a company which you can trust, avoid ones which employ shady “black hat” tricks, and do your research.

  1. Engage.

Dealing with online criticism is always challenging and you may be tempted to do nothing, hoping that the criticism just blows over, but what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. A customer can search your website, find a negative review of your business on Yelp or Glassdoor written years ago, and decide to stay away if you have not done anything to counter that attack.

Always try to respond promptly and professionally to any negative reviews you find. If you take a peek at PopularReviews, you’ll see a typical product review site where anyone can sign up and post an opinion about your company. This makes reputation management difficult. While many people lose their civility when sitting behind a computer screen, remember this: if you would not yell and insult customers who come into your stores with a baseless complaint, you should not do that towards those complaining online. Professional behavior may not soothe the person who wrote the complaint, but that professionalism will impress others who read your response.

  1. Do not forget your personal reputation.

We have all heard the stories about how businesses have had to fire employees who post inappropriate pictures of themselves on social media. The employees may gripe about being fired for something they did off-hours, but businesses do this to protect their reputation.

This applies to you as well. Google yourself and take some time to go through past posts on Facebook and Twitter and remove any pictures or posts which may be viewed as inappropriate. If you do employ a content marketing strategy for your business, devote some space to your biography and those of key employees. This will make you and your business appear more relatable while also removing problematic aspects which could harm your reputation.

While the fight to protect your online business reputation is a never-ending struggle, always stay vigilant for threats from your past and present.

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