A Quick Guide to Small Business Reputation Management

Management 16 minute read 15th June 2022

Whoever said, “worry about your character, not your reputation” probably didn’t have a business.

Nowadays, a business is just one click away from a wide audience, and thanks to that information, trends and especially scandals and bad news spread like fire. Your reputation can be the difference between losing or making thousands of dollars.

And this is especially true when we talk about the management of a small business’ reputation.

But why is reputation management important for small business owners?

Simply because if you don’t take care of your reputation from the beginning, you’re not going to generate more money. After all, 90% of consumers claimed positive reviews influenced their decision to buy on an establishment. Customers have options, that’s why they’re worried about connecting with a brand that shares their values and they won’t set for less. You can lose them.

Small Business Reputation Management - Review influence

So, if you came looking for guidance on:

  1. What is reputation management?
  2. Why is online reputation management important?
  3. An online reputation management strategy
  4. And the benefits of it

You’re in the right place.

In this quick guide, we give you answers to ‌these questions and tips on how you can start managing your business’ online reputation.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is how you handle or influence the perception your online audience has about your business. In small business reputation management, it isn’t about who you are or what your business does. Is about what your audience thinks of your business.

Your online reputation management is meant to make your online credibility and authority stronger. This, is so that viral videos or angry customers that didn’t get more stuff for free can’t affect the reputation of your business with a single post or review. Because that is how search engines, like Google, get to perceive your brand on the internet.

You don’t want someone typing on Google “restaurants with the worst customer service” and finding yours in the top 10. It’s becoming increasingly more regular for customers to look at online reviews to make purchasing decisions, about 54.7% of consumers read at least four reviews before buying.

Small Business Reputation Management - Review reading

So, we recommend getting on top of your ORM as soon as you can.

Why Online Reputation Management Is Important?

The importance of online reputation management has to do with two things:

Most of your audience finds you online. 78% of consumers use the internet to find information about local businesses more than once a weeThisich means if your online reputation is bad, you’re just reaching the surface of your customer’s base If you identify this bad reputation early on, you can solve the problem from the beginning, and avoid losing sales, customers, and your sanity

So, in short, the importance of reputation management is that it helps you measure your likeability to your customers and audience. Monitor your online reputation and change it if it’s not the wished one.

Your customers can be your greatest advocates, but can also bring you down easily. Businesses still use word of mouth to bring more customers. But social media is becoming more powerful in marketing with the so-called influencers.

It Is Important to Maintain Your Online Reputation?

If you built a solid online reputation in the past and are wondering if you should still track it. The answer is yes, it’s important to maintain and constantly track your business’ digital reputation. Your customers and audience can change what they think about your brand easily. A single bad experience can reshape their perception of your business.

And if multiple customers have a bad experience with your business. Their voices can all come together into a louder message that is going to act as a snowball effect. Which will negatively affect your business.

Keeping track of your reputation and actively tackling problems is an everyday task. People don’t want to be customers of businesses with gender gaps, poor customer service, and discrimination, to put a few examples. So, a wrong perception can lose you employees, customers, and money.

Benefits of Online Reputation Management

Now, let’s talk about your incentives. You should worry about reputation management for small businesses because it:

  • Attracts employees: top talent wants to be in the best places. People don’t want to taint their reputation by working in a place with a negative perception
  • Increases your sales: once again, customers always look at reviews. So if your place has a bunch of bad reviews, customers would rather save themselves the trouble of visiting your place. And as result, you lose sales
  • Increases your search engine rankings: meaning your search engine reputation (Google’s perception of your business), betters and your online content is more likely to appear on search results
  • Gives you authority and credibility: If 90% of your reviews are four or five stars, your place must be good. That’s what people think when looking at reviews, which makes your business trustworthy and the usual place for some of your customers
  • Makes your marketing costs lower: why? Because with a good reputation, customers buy more easily from you. And your marketing doesn’t have to be a constant struggle. ## How to Manage Your Business Online Reputation? As a small business, you probably don’t need to hire a new manager or consultant. What you need is to evaluate your current online reputation; to find where you can get better, fix it and keep monitoring.

It’s easier said than done, but here’s a five-step strategy you can follow with free tools.

5 Step Online Reputation Management Strategy for Small Businesses

Let’s start with the five-step process strategy to improve your online reputation and keep managing it.

1. Evaluate your current online reputation

If you’re going to improve something, you have to make sure you understand how deep in the mud you are. You can audit your online reputation by:

  • Using Google Alerts. Enter your business name and related industry terms to pull out news and content regarding sites where you’re mentioned. And get to know if your online reputation is bad, good or if you simply don’t have one.

Small Business Reputation Management - Google alerts screenshot

  • Type “[business name] reviews” on Google and you’ll see a variety of reviews from different sources

  • Look at what people are saying about your business on social media. What is the general sentiment? and are there complaints that can be converted into feedback?

  • Pay attention to your Google My Business account (GMB). Statistics from Google Maps show that 86% of users use this platform to search for local businesses. And the thing is 56% of businesses haven’t claimed their GMB listing. If you’re part of that 56%, it’s time to go claim your account or create one

Small Business Reputation Management - Google My Business GMB screenshot

Once you’ve reviewed these social channels, you might have an idea of what people don’t like about your business as well as what they love. Which brings us to the next step.

2. Address reviews good and bad

There are three types of reviews that you should worry about:

  • Reviews within your business: meaning reviews from your employees on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Having bad reviews on sites like this means top talent doesn’t want to work at your business. So to fix this, you have to make changes from the inside out. If employees are complaining about an inflexible schedule, try to be less strict. If it’s about money, offer some other benefits. And if it’s about a work environment, being friendly doesn’t cost you anything.

  • Reviews from your customers: these are the reviews you find on GMB, Yelp, OpenTable, or even TripAdvisor. Reviews from customers are real face-to-face experiences of people that have visited your business, so this is like a gold mine of feedback and opportunities to improve your business.

  • Reviews from the common public: these are reviews from social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which can also be comments or reactions.

You have to identify reviews with the strongest sentiments about a specific thing they didn’t like about your business. Meaning a comment like “I hate coffee, don’t know how you guys can enjoy this place” shouldn’t be your aim. Something like “the bathrooms of the establishment were so dirty. Worst experience”, that’s something you can change.

And, remember to always answer reviews, good and bad. Take good care of answering bad reviews, this shows your audience you want to solve their problems.

3. Do partnerships or events

When you have tackled reviews and made changes, it’s time to proceed with making your reputation better by either partnering with influencers or preparing an event.

The thing with influencers is they have the power to influence what their followers think about a brand. So, if you have a cafe or restaurant, you can agree with influencers in your niche, like those people that go around trying food from different restaurants and posting about it, on payment for a post.

About the events, you can release some kind of promo, discount, or new menu selection to bring more people in. To promote this you can post it on social media and put a time limit on it, a month or a week, this works especially well with holidays. And will attract people that are curious about your business.

4. Keep monitoring your reputation

Here are some quick tips:

  • Put up alerts in Google Alerts using the name of your business and related keywords This will alert if you’re mentioned on the web, so you can see if it’s bad or good
  • Look at the comments and general sentiment of your social media daily
  • Constantly improve your on-site experience, whether a customer looks disgusted or it’s just going to make customers happy

5. Repeat

Pretty self-explanatory. Repeat the process, a reputation isn’t built in a day. And it isn’t something you do once and forget about it.

Build Your Reputation

Reputation is important… in business.

You don’t just sell a product anymore, you also sell your image and value. That’s why it’s important to differentiate yourself, and your offering and make your customers like you (remember, be nice). After all, your business reputation is what makes customers go from popular and big coffee chains to the local coffee shop that uses ecological cups.

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