Friday 26 October, 2012
We live in a media culture where it’s no understatement to say that reputation is everything. Right now, reputation management is a growing industry and Internet buzzword. These are professionals that remove negative listings and help your business with PR. But caring for your reputation is about more than just getting rid of bad reviews. It’s something all businesses need to think about from the very beginning.
Reputation has always been important for businesses. Brands spend years building their reputation both online and off. They go to great lengths to control, monitor and protect their reputations.
The difference with the Internet is that everyone has a voice. An offline business has to worry about what the media has to say about them. Word of mouth is also important, but the scale online is different. On the Internet, websites like Yelp and CitySearch, not to mention countless blogs and social media sites, allow anybody to say anything, and anybody else to see it. People have always talked, but what they said could never go viral before. This is why reputation is so much more important online.
Trust Is Key
What creates a good reputation? It’s not the quality of your marketing materials and it’s not related to your PR budget. It’s all about trust. Trust can’t be quantified by Facebook ‘likes’ or number or fans. These measure influence, not trust. Trust is something you can’t quantify but it’s apparent in the way your customers feel about your business.
Market research shows that people look for information and products from companies they trust, especially on social media sites where an increasing number of searchers are being made. This is true not only of social media but every marketing channel businesses use. Your goal in managing your reputation is to make your business the go-to source for your audience.
Trust is important because if you have your customers’ trust, you can weather any economic problems. Your products or services will be seen as essentials and they’ll buy from you even when they’re not buying from others. You’ll also survive any algorithm changes and updates from Google. Even if your traffic drops off, you’ll still have a loyal fan base that will buy from you. Best of all, they’ll tell others.
Building Trust Online
The best thing you can do to engender trust is to let your personality come through online. This is a huge part of building trust and also branding your business. Network, help others, publish regular content, and give away freebies.
Whenever someone contacts you, be as responsive as possible. Reply quickly and help them solve their problems. This shows that you’re there for them and you’re stable, and stability leads straight to trust. It builds a real relationship that’s not just based on them buying from you.
Many online businesses use shady tactics and try to make a quick buck. This is a good thing for those of us who are trying to establish a long-term relationship built on trust. Look at your competition and other businesses online and try to do what they’re not doing. Take that extra step to connect with your customers. This is how you build a stellar reputation.