Online reputation matters to all businesses, both small and large, but small businesses face unique challenges when it comes to monitoring their reputation online.
Small businesses typically have smaller budgets, fewer resources, and a brand image closely linked with the business owner. All of these elements make diligent online reputation monitoring both critical and difficult to achieve for smaller businesses.
As CEO of one of the top online reputation management agencies, Gottschall provided insight into the unique challenges small businesses may face with online reputation management and how they can overcome them.
Small Businesses Can Approach Online Reputation Monitoring Proactively Through Content
Most small businesses know that their online reputation matters, which is why 88% of small businesses monitor their online reputation at least quarterly.
By proactively tracking their online reputation, small businesses can not only react to negative comments and reviews, but can actively build their brand’s reputation.
One way small businesses can do this is by creating positive content that show the brand in the best way possible.
“Content creation is important in having positive brand content on authoritative websites is important because it’s only on those authoritative websites that they’re going to rank,” Gottschall said.
If you create high-quality content on high authority websites, it can outrank any negative content, such as bad reviews, in the search results pages.
Social Media Allows You to Monitor Your Online Reputation and Reclaim Control Over Your Brand
Small businesses are often running on a limited budget. Social media is a low-cost, high-impact platform small businesses can use to monitor their reputation.
Another perk of social media is that it gives your business unparalleled control over your brand.
“Social media is one of the more controllable spaces because you have a great deal of control over what goes on your Facebook page,” Gottschall said. “If things ever get really bad, you could shut it down.”
Social media gives brands control, but it alone is not enough to properly monitor your online reputation.
“There are a lot of people who think the internet begins and ends with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it’s dangerous to stop there,” Gottschall said. “You have to monitor social media, but you also need to go beyond it to effectively monitor your online reputation.”
Small businesses should also monitor search results pages and third-party reviews such as those on Yelp, to supplement their monitoring efforts.
By Monitoring Your Small Business’s Online Reputation, You May Be Protecting Your Own Identity
If a small business owner is very connected to his business’s brand (or IS the business’s brand), she needs to be aware of the information about her online.
Gottschall said, for example, when you apply for credit, you’re asked questions such as:
• What town did you grow up in?
• What’s your mother’s maiden name?
“If I can go on a website and find your brother’s last name, I have a pretty good idea of knowing your maiden name,” Gottschall said. “A lot of this information can be the missing piece to an identity theft strategy. You want to control the amount of information that appears for you online.”
By monitoring their small business’s online reputation, small business owners are also monitoring the web to protect their own identity and reputation.
Online Reputation Monitoring Is Key for Small Businesses to Survive
People want to shop at businesses that appear to have a tidy digital storefront and take things like reviews into consideration before choosing where to shop.
Small businesses operating on a budget or with limited resources can use social media as a way to monitor people’s conversations about their brand, however, this shouldn’t be the only platform they use.
By proactively monitoring your online reputation in 2019 and beyond, you can ensure your small business’s survival in an increasingly competitive marketplace and protect your own identity as the business’s owner.