There are millions of Google searches being made every single day. If you are a startup, there is nothing worse than having someone out there smearing the name of the business before you can even get started. This is why reputation management for startups is so important.
Bigger companies are able to deal with this, but if you are just getting started, this can cause a lot of damage to your business and it can even affect your business growth.
Upset customers and disgruntled co-founders can easily bring down a company before they can even gain momentum. Now is the time of owning your reputation. Today, the questions to ask yourself is, how much risk are you exposing yourself to by not working on your online reputation from the first day?
The Truth is your Startup Needs Reputation Management as Negativity is Going to Happen
You might be asking yourself why you can’t repair the damage if it happens. The question here is no if it will happen, but when it is going to happen. More than half of the population doesn’t trust brands. Even if your company is the greatest in the world, you will still have to deal with some negative PR at some point. And the painful part is that it will not necessarily be justified.
One of the best ways of countering this is by making sure you are acting now. If you currently have over one hundred positive reviews, one negative will not have any effect. If you happen to have one review and it turns out to be negative, then you are in trouble.
You will not be able to Notice the Damage for some Time
Even if you have Google Alerts set up, you will not be able to catch all the people posting negative stuff about the business. You might not even find it on Google. It can be in the form of a social media post, which isn’t indexed by Google, or can be even through a private message.
You will not realize that something has gone wrong until you start feeling the consequences. You will then have to go into damage control mode, as opposed to ensuring that the damage doesn’t happen in the first place.
Effective Reputation Management for Start Up Businesses Begins with Effective Monitoring
Monitoring is very important because it is the only way to know what is going on, however, it is not possible to manually monitor each and every update being made about your brand. This is why you should make the reputation monitoring fully automated. This can be like setting up Google or Bing Alerts for your products, brand name, your name, and key people in your organization.
When you set up these alerts, you will be getting updates straight to your email inbox any time there is an update.
The use of reputation management tools has become a must;
Google and Bing Alerts are not effective enough because they don’t cover all the different aspects of monitoring. This is why you should consider good monitoring tools.
There are many different options when it comes to online tools to help businesses in monitoring their reputation online, and there are some that are free.
You should do a Self-Audit so you can see Where you Currently Stand
Do your research: What are people saying Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn? How about Google or Yelp reviews? Once you have a rough idea on how your brand is viewed, look at your competition. How do you compare to them?
You will then need to set up goals to boost your brand online. You should try making them timely and specific: Pick two or three that you are going to focus on for the next quarter. Maybe you want a couple of Yelp reviews in the next month or two, or maybe you remember that you have not updated your blog in the past year. Use the self-audit as a way of setting your goals.
You also need to have self-audit check-ins throughout the year. You should pay close attention to community-contributed sites such as Google and Yelp reviews; search engines tend to put more weight on them when it comes to results, and this is why it is an important aspect of your online reputation.
Getting a reputation hit can make you lose money. It is far much cheaper to get a reputation management service now than trying to repair it later on. You will find that it is very hard to bury a bad reputation through positive reviews from the ground up. Before you remove the negative rep, you will need thousands of dollars, and you will end up spending a lot of money.
A single star loss on platforms such as Yelp can have a lot of negative effects on your business.
How Can You Get Started with Online Reputation Management?
When starting a company, it can be hard to consider spending money on things like reputation management when your focus is entirely on your products and making your first sales. Companies that are able to consider online reputation management end up performing far much better in the long term.
Many startups fall victim for not thinking about the company in the long-term because most of them are not in a position to look at the future. You should take a different approach, and you will most likely get better results.
- The first thing you will need to do is encouraging your customers to rave about your company. Encouraging them to leave positive reviews will go a long way. You can do this by offering them exclusive discounts.
- Setting Google Alerts for the company name, your name, and your products and services. When you do this, you will get an email anytime someone mentions you online. Each time you get an alert, investigate to see whether someone said a negative thing about you.
- You should also interact with customers regularly.
- You will need to have an online content strategy that emphasises interactions with the customers.
- You should also show off the personality and expertise of your company by publishing shareable and relevant content like blog posts, case studies, social media posts, press mentions, testimonials, and other materials on a regular basis.
- You will then need to interact with customers who comment, like, or engage with your content. This will help you create positive interactions that will win over the customers and also enhances customer loyalty.
- You should also make it easier for the customers to complain to you directly -so you get the chance of fixing the problem.
- You will need a proactive approach when it comes to maintaining a good reputation online, never use the reactive approach. If you find that you are only responding when there is a problem, then you are not doing any favours for your online reputation.
- You should be prepared for the negative reviews too;
- Being a founder or a key person for the new company, you should be asking your customers to leave reviews online on Google, Zomato, Facebook and many others. A great way of encouraging positive reviews is through a social media customer serviced channel, but you also need to look at other tools and technologies so you can improve customer relations.
- Encouraging customers to give you positive reviews can be an uphill task, but you should always remember there is no way of stopping negative reviews. No matter how good your reputation is being managed, there comes a time when your business is hit by a negative review. It will take about twelve reviews to dissolve the effect of the one negative review. This means you should be getting positive reviews so as to suppress the negative ones. In order to achieve this faster, consider reaching out to your most loyal customers.
- You should consider responding to negative, but you should watch out for cyberbullying and defamatory tricks used by some competitors;
- Getting a negative review or comment is not a pleasant experience, and you end up feeling annoyed and frustrated, but this is the point where you need to take a deep breath. You should never respond to a negative review or comment when angry; talk to the team so you can come up with a good response.
- You should develop thought leadership in the field you are in.
- Panel opportunities, speaking engagements, awards, networking events, and collaborations are some effective ways of building a reputation for your company.
- These opportunities will come with some form of recognition, and this will help in making a stronger case for why customers should trust you.
- Trying making the brand see as an industry leader, and you will be able to get the rewards.
Hiring an expert to handle your Online Reputation effectively
A startup will need thousands of work hours and even tens of thousands, to move to the next level, and having a small reputation can mean the end of your company.
You might be able to set aside an hour to manage and monitor your brand reputation when starting, but the business will grow, and this forces you to get an expert to deal with it. The person handling this should be experienced in managing the reputation of a business similar to yours. You can hire a full-time employee, or you can go the easier route of outsourcing to a reputation management firm.