June 20, 2019
As a small business, actively monitoring and managing your online presence often gets forgotten, but should be an important part of your marketing strategy and long-term business plan. Your customers and clients now turn to Google to learn about your reputation and to decide whether or not to give you their business. If you turn a blind eye to conversations happening on social media, review platforms like Yelp, and mentions of your business on other websites, you’re missing a huge opportunity to not only encourage positive buzz about your brand but also to respond to those inevitable negative comments before they hurt your reputation and turn customers away.
Even if you’re not active on social media or you rarely update your website, it’s critical to know what people are saying about you online. Let’s look at how you can stay on top of these online conversations, effectively respond, and turn a negative interaction into a positive exchange with the potential to benefit your brand.
How to Monitor the Conversation on Social
For smaller businesses, especially those that focus on a local audience, don’t feel pressured to monitor every single social network for mentions of your company. It’s probably enough to focus on the primary social giants which include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These platforms not only have the majority of users, but also are known as platforms where conversations happen, unlike a platform like Pinterest, for example. So, let’s take a look at these three and how to keep tabs on what your audience is saying.
On your company Facebook page, you should try to respond to your followers comments, mentions, reviews, and direct messages within 24 hours. To ensure your audience receives a response right away to direct messages, you can set up an automated reply thanking them for reaching out and notifying them that a team member will respond to their inquiry or concern shortly. Here’s how to keep tabs on each type of interaction on Facebook:
Any mentions of your business will show up under ‘Notifications’ on the top navigation menu of your company page. When someone mentions your brand, it will say XCompany or Individual mentioned [Your business name] in a comment or post. If you click on the notification, Facebook will show you the post that contains your business name. Depending on the content, you may choose to simply ‘like’ the post, leave a comment (“Thanks for the shoutout!), or you may choose to share it to your page.
To see direct messages, check under ‘Inbox’ on the top navigation menu of your company page. There you will see any messages sent privately to your company page. If you respond to 90% or more of your messages and have a response time of less than 15 minutes, your page will earn a ‘Very responsive to messages’ badge. If this isn’t a realistic response time for your business, that’s ok. If you don’t meet this response rate, only people who help manage your page can see how quickly you respond to messages.
Reviews of your business are found in the left hand sidebar menu of your company page. When you click ‘reviews’ you can see how many stars out of 5 you have and how many total reviews you’ve collected. You can also see each written review (some people may just give you a star rating without writing a review) and respond. You should ‘like’ every positive review (4+ stars) and take the time to comment on those that took the time to write out their opinion. This shows your appreciation for your customers’ business and loyalty and encourages those individuals to leave reviews of your business on other platforms as well.
Twitter is all about having conversations, so it’s especially important that you pay attention to conversations that include your business and respond. Here’s how to see what the Twitter community is saying about your brand.
Notifications and Mentions
On your business Twitter page, ‘Notifications’ shows relevant tweets from those you follow and notifies you when someone likes, shares, or comments on one of your tweets. When you click into ‘Notifications’ you can choose to view ‘All’ or ‘Mentions.’ The Mentions tab is important to check regularly, as it only shows you tweets that mention your Twitter handle.
While it’s not necessary to thank users every time they like or share one of your tweets, it is important to acknowledge when someone goes to the trouble of giving your business a shout out within their own feed. Sometimes liking the tweet is enough, other times you can share it to your feed (if that feels appropriate) or reply with a comment. This will help you cultivate an engaged, loyal audience on Twitter and show that you understand the platform is for starting conversations and creating connections, not just promoting your brand.
Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, people may still be talking about your brand on this platform. You can see what people are saying by simply searching for your business name using the search bar. Any tweets that include your business name (even if you don’t have a Twitter handle or they didn’t tag your Twitter handle) will show up in this search.
Instagram is known for its ‘influencers:’ Users with established credibility, large followings, and who can influence their audience through their posts to try new brands, adopt certain lifestyles, support an important cause, or to take action in some other way, fall into this category. It’s worth noting this type of Instagram user here because if your brand can create a stellar online reputation, and if you have the right kind of service of product for the platform, an influencer may feature your business in a post. Influencer posts are seen by thousands of people so this is a great way to spread brand awareness and reach new customers.
Notifications, Tags, and Mentions
But what about monitoring the conversation on Instagram? For this platform, you’ll find any notifications, tags, mentions, and follow requests under the heart icon. Make sure you take the time to regularly respond to comments on your posts and mentions of your brand on other people’s platforms (especially an influencer’s!). When someone tags your business in a photo, it’s good practice to like the photo and leave a comment, if appropriate.
You can also receive direct messages, found under the paper airplane icon in the upper right hand corner. (Note that this is only visible through the app, not on your desktop.) Mentions of your business in stories will also appear here.
To find other conversations about your business (those captions and comments that don’t include your Instagram account handle), go to the search function (found under the magnifying glass icon) and type in your business name. This will show you related accounts, tags, and places. Check under tags to see if anyone is talking about your brand using a hashtag, and use places to see if people are tagging your business location in their posts.
Tools to monitor your reputation on social
If you find there’s simply too much chatter happening online around your brand to manually keep track of it all, 1) congratulations! and 2) you may need to use a tool like Social Mention to track activity across your platforms.
How to manage your reputation on online review platforms
Yelp is yet another online platform where people may be talking about your brand, even if you don’t manage your own Yelp account. This is because anyone can create a profile for a business, allowing others to then post reviews, photos, business hours, and more. To take control of your listing, follow these simple instructions from Yelp to claim your business. Once you’ve claimed your listing, you can track and respond to reviews, add your own photos, and update information such as your address, hours, and offerings.
Responding to Yelp reviews
Many business owners wonder, do I have to respond to every single Yelp review? The short answer is, yes. If you want to build brand loyalty and attract new customers, you should dedicate at least one team member to respond to all Yelp reviews. Positive reviews often only require a short, ‘Thank you for the kind review—we’re glad you had such a positive experience!’
Try your best, however, to write a custom response for each review to show that there are caring people behind your brand and that you take the time to listen to all your customers.
Positive reviews on Google can improve your SEO, create brand loyalty, and attract new customers. Like Yelp, in order to respond to reviews, you will first need to claim and then verify your business listing. Once you’ve completed this step, you can read and reply to reviews.
Responding to negative online reviews
Regardless of the platform, negative reviews should be handled in much the same way. While it can be tempting to ignore or send a defensive response to negative reviews, neither of these strategies will help you gain more customers or make amends with the disgruntled reviewer. Instead, take negative reviews as an opportunity to learn about your audience and improve the way you do business. Respond professionally and kindly. People understand that bad reviews happen but how you respond to them (and if you respond) makes all the difference.
Here are a few basic guidelines for crafting an effective response to negative feedback:
Negative reviews and comments are always a bummer, but don’t let them discourage you. People like to complain, and unfortunately, someone who feels slighted is more likely to take the time to publish a review or post a comment than those customers who are happy with your service or product. This is why it’s necessary to reach out and ask for reviews on social, Yelp, and Google from your best customers.
Every once in a while, a business can become the target of defamation. This type of unfounded negative review can cause long-lasting and undeserved damage to your reputation. To learn more about these ‘online reputation bombs’ and when to take legal action, check out this post from Neil Patel.
Your online reputation matters
When it comes to managing your online reputation, the most important strategy is to listen to what people are saying and respond as you would in a face-to-face interaction. This means taking the time to send your thanks for positive reviews and comments and to respond with patience, understanding, and kindness to negative reviews. You can’t control everything people say about you, but you can control how, and if, you react.
You know what else can affect your reputation? The security of your website and how you manage your customers’ data. Check out the following blog posts for more information on how to run a secure business your customers can trust:
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