The internet is a great tool for small businesses, both brick-and-mortar and online. Businesses can reach wider audiences with low-cost advertising and free promotional channels such as Facebook pages.
With these benefits comes a downside, however. It is inexpensive, or free, for those who dislike the business to share their opinions online. Managing negative online comments and reviews can be time consuming and costly, so what’s a small business to do? Fortunately, there are ways for small businesses to manage their online reputation on a budget.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of managing an online reputation is monitoring what people are saying about the business, but some of this can be automated through the use of free tools.
Google Alerts allow users to enter words and phrases, like the name of the business and owner, to generate emails that are sent when new information is published about those words and phrases. A number of free and low-cost services do the same type of monitoring across blogs and social media platforms.
A small business may not be able to control what others say about it online, but it can control the information that it puts out. Publishing positive information about the business online will minimize the impact of negative commentary. Writing regular blog posts on the business’ website, submitting articles and blog posts to reputable third-party websites, and publishing press releases are all ways to pump out favorable web content.
It’s impossible for business owners to delete many negative online comments, like those on most review platforms. Some negative comments can be removed, however, and if the option is available, it is often a wise idea to use it. For example, if a customer writes a negative comment on a business’ website, the business can typically remove that comment in a matter of minutes. On other websites, the terms and conditions usually set forth the type of information a business owner has the power to control.
Use of Third Parties
While it may seem counter-intuitive, investing in a third-party service, like InternetReputation.co, can help small businesses save money on online reputation management. For most small businesses, time spent managing an online reputation takes time away from core business operations. Third parties that focus on reputation management are more effective, quicker, and better at online reputation management than a business in another industry. Net Reputation also offers options that are well-suited to the budgets and needs of small businesses.