Most business owners understand the importance of building and maintaining a strong reputation. Likewise, most business owners also understand how influential both positive and negative press can be. Nevertheless, research would seem to suggest that comparatively few business owners address online reputation management with any real sense of priority.
For example, it’s estimated that around 70% of websites now publish reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers. Nevertheless, less than half of these businesses keep an eye on what’s being said about them on independent websites and review platforms.
Something that often proves to be a huge mistake.
To underestimate the value and influence of independent reviews is to steer yourself and your business down a dangerous path. It’s now known that more than 90% of customers base their online purchase decisions on the reviews and recommendations they read. Just as positive feedback inspires confidence, negative press can drive people in entirely the wrong direction.
To publish positive reviews and ratings on your website is one thing. But do you genuinely expect newcomers to your business to take everything you say at face value?
If you understand modern consumer audiences, the answer is of course…no.
This is precisely where one of the most important yet consistently overlooked aspects of reputation management comes in. These days, the average consumer only needs to head over to Facebook, Foursquare, Google, TripAdvisor, True Local, My Business, Yelp and countless other resources to find all the information they need.
The problem being that as these are 100% independent sites with no direct affiliations, their word is considered gospel. Positive press published on an independent review site can be pure gold. Negative press – having been interpreted as comprehensively honest and trustworthy – having the exact opposite effect.
You can sing your own praises until the proverbial cows come home on your own website. But if you really want to take reputation management to the next level, you need to focus on independent review sites and platforms.
This is something that should be taken into account when requesting the feedback of your everyday customers in general. For the purposes of both reputation management and general continuous improvement, it’s good business practice to actively request the feedback, reviews and general comments of customers. But at the same time, you need to ask yourself one important question:
Would you benefit more form a direct response, or if their response was published via an independent site?
Perhaps the most prominent example of this methodology in action today comes by way of TripAdvisor. These days, restaurants rarely request direct reviews and testimonials from their customers. Instead, they specifically point them to TripAdvisor to publish their thoughts and opinions. The reason being that TripAdvisor has become one of the most popular and powerful platforms of its kind, when influencing the decisions of diners, travellers, shoppers and consumers in general.
To summarise in a nutshell therefore – reputation management involves focusing on far more than the collecting and publishing of positive feedback on your own online assets. Whatever’s being said about you on the more independent platforms out there is what will be interpreted as the truth by the masses.