A new phrase/job/concern has arisen since the advancement of social media: Online Reputation Management (ORM).
We have gone from 1) hurry up and get out there! To, 2) spread your message on every possible social media platform that’s humanly possible! Moreover, now, 3) make sure somebody is in charge of your ORM!
What was once an activity you, as a small business owner, could do in a few spare hours during the week, has now become a full-time job. Moreover, let’s hope it is not yours since, as important as managing your online appearance to stay viable and attract the attention and pocketbooks of your customers is, operating your small business is your most important task. Don’t weave the two until running the business becomes maintaining your online reputation.
Talk on the street, however, is that web visitors hate one thing the most about a businesses website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed: its emptiness. Otherwise called a virtual property “ghost town.”
Where’s your Ghost Town?
Possibly it is time to take stock of your online reputation and highlight any ghost towns–those social media caves into that you moved, built a fire, and ultimately forgot about in the pursuit of other, bigger fires. The longer the list of your online resources, the more time you are involved with stoking the fire, keeping the flames hot.
Once you put yourself out there, you had better be committed to keeping your presence active, or your credibility slowly– sometimes immediately, if you make a bad first impression–chips away. How many properties do you currently hold, and are your fires stoked?
Evaluating your online presence and making an ORM plan
If you do not already manage a list of all the places your company lives on the web, you should. List every property, from your site to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google +, Tumblr, and others. Is your business listed or being evaluated on websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, or Yellowpages? List those, too. All of these properties and listings online are adding to the overall brand of your company.
Determine the following each social media platform addresses. Your message and brand are being interpreted by your clients, potential customers, rivals, partners, ancillary service providers, and those who just stumble upon your business without a pre-conceived idea of what you stand for. Whom are you interacting with, and where?
Eliminate any those that do not further your goals, speak to the audience you are most trying to contact or engage with, or that you are not motivated to keep up with, even if it is a good fit for your business. Silence leaves the customer/visitor their internal conversation about your company.
Four questions to ask yourself about online reputation management for your business Once you have revisited all of your caves, sweep out the cobwebs, and felt the warmth (or lack thereof) of your fire; you are ready to control your online reputation. You have three choices: do it yourself, delegate an in-house staff member, or outsource. Your action plan should cover the following questions:
1. Do you have reputation obstacles stemming from bad reviews, a lack of online presence, or offensive media coverage? If managing your reputation is driven by poor business methods or customer reviews, you have more work ahead of you than just animating your social media hangouts. This is where you step back and re-evaluate your methods, logistics and operations, and workers. Establish your business internally before you strengthen your public image.
2. Are you consistent from place to place? Is your online activity accurately indicating your company goals? Associate your brand with your current message, and revise as needed.
3. Where are customers socializing with your content the most? Refine those, and learn to combine other platforms into the most useful of your social media platforms. Study various software that can help you control all of your pages, such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
4. What is your ORM timeframe? Plan a schedule and reporting method to either hold yourself or staff member accountable for your online reputation management process, or research organizations with whom you can outsource. High profile companies like Reputation.com take on objections to your business’s reputation, while content media firms help establish your brand, provide a plan and tools to relate with your audience online through blogs, videos, and other content, and offer analytical instruments to track your progress. Don’t let your business become a ghost town by overwhelming yourself with social media presence. Make a plan and move ahead with a roaring fire!