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Managing your online reputation in three steps

You can’t stop people making negative comments about your business online, but there are few simple ways to lessen the damage this can cause your brand. Anna Cairo has three simple steps for managing your online reputation.

Social media is developing into an important tool for business communications. Despite the positive aspects it brings, the nature of social media means that someone airing their bad experience online does so instantly and potentially to a massive audience.

As the online environment becomes more crucial to business, and more people are online constantly (thanks to mobile technologies), increasingly they’ll comment on their experiences to friends via Facebook, blogs, Twitter and so on. This creates a risk that all businesses need to take seriously and manage. Any negative comments from disgruntled customers can potentially be very damaging to a business image if it goes ‘viral’. Staying ahead of these comments and planning for them allows businesses to manage negative experiences, rather than just reacting when an unconstructive comment appears.

Here are 3 simple steps for managing your business reputation online.

1. Conduct an Audit

One of the most important steps is conducting an online audit of your business. This is essential as it allows you to assess your business reputation and see what people are already saying. These conversations are happening with or without your presence, so it’s pretty safe to say there’s probably plenty of information out there already.

Social media sites rank highly in searches because they are considered ‘safe’ websites, so negative comments from these platforms are likely to be highly ranked in searches. This important fact makes it vital for businesses to be a part of the online community, so they can monitor what’s being said about them to minimise the damage.

2. Publish positive content

It is probably unlikely that you’ll be able to have every negative comment or image removed from its original source. However, negative comments content may be connected to content you may have uploaded yourself and forgotten about.  This can be easily removed! It’s content that’s hosted on a third’s party’s site that’s more challenging and most likely stay online if you’re unsuccessful in asking nicely to have it removed.

By being proactive and publishing positive and useful content, there’s a chance you can lessen the negative content visibility and push it down to the lower end of a search. New content should slowly overtake the negative comments in the search rankings as it’s ranked higher than older material.

It’s also important to accept that negative comments will most likely keep coming, as conversation can’t be controlled. Businesses can only track, monitor, negate and correct factual information. Also, be cautious about trying to have negative comments removed as this may cause more damage as it alerts individuals to the content and suggests you are trying to hide something.

3. Tracking and Monitoring

One of the key ways to track and monitor mentions and references to your business is to think about some keywords or phrases you believe symbolise you, your company, and your brand. These can then be typed into a search engine to see what comes up. This can be a time consuming process to do regularly though, so it might be better to let someone do it for you.

What’s more efficient is to set up ‘alerts’ (i.e Google Alerts) with your keyword so that you’re notified each time a post or tweet is published that mentions your keywords. From this, you can easily manage the process and see what is being said.

It’s invaluable that your business is online and building relationships with customers and potential customers. If you’re able to build a solid audience who respects your business, these individuals can assist in negating any negative comments that present themselves in the future.

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Anna Cairo

Anna Cairo

Anna is a social media communications expert. She supports businesses to increase their online presence through social media. Additionally, she also educates businesses around the impacts social media creates in the workplace and how to minimise these risks. She is a writer, researcher and author writing for diverse audiences on a range of topics. Further, she conducts workshops, presentations and is regularly asked to speak to lawyers around social media risk. Anna was recently nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2013. You can join Anna on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Cairo-Consulting/285887488090944">Facebook</a> or visit <a href="http://www.annacairo.com">www.annacairo.com</a>.

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