A business’s reputation used to rely on word of mouth. This is still true. But the web can now broadcast a person’s word of mouth to thousands or millions of people in a heartbeat.

A 2020 survey by BrightLocal found that 93% of consumers use the internet to search for local businesses and that 87% read online reviews of local businesses. The numbers don’t lie. They prove that managing your online reputation is more important than ever. In this article, we provide three areas to look at to manage your business’s online reputation.

The social media platforms relevant to your business

Every article you read about online marketing will mention social media. It can be hard to manage everything from LinkedIn interactions to Tiktok dances. Unless you have a ton of resources to dedicate to social media marketing, you’ll likely have to pick your battles and decide which channels to hone in on.

For example, local professional services, such as accounting or law firms, will likely receive a better return on investment by posting regularly on LinkedIn than on Tiktok. In contrast, an e-commerce business can go viral on Tiktok and see sales skyrocket overnight.

Looking at your competition’s strategies can reveal which social media platforms are best for your business. But trying out unconventional methods can create new opportunities too. While you may think real estate agents would usually use LinkedIn, many find success on Instagram and Tiktok by creating short clips filled with home buying and selling advice.

Another method is to dip your toes in each social media platform and see where you’re getting a return on investment. If you notice that your accounting firm’s Tiktok is bringing in more business than LinkedIn, it may be a better area to invest in. There ultimately are no hard and fast rules for social media, so it’s a great way to get creative.

Google reviews and other review sites

When anyone Googles the name of your business or organization, it’s common that one of the first results is a star-based rating via a Google or Yelp review. A Harvard study found that every one-star increase in a Yelp review increases leads by five-to-nine percent.

Long gone are the days when angry customers would write to the paper about their poor experience. These customers can now just give you a one-star rating instead.

To ensure you have the best digital ratings possible, it’s crucial to ask happy customers for a review. The more reviews you have, the less of an effect you’ll see from the one-off negative reviews. Don’t only make it a habit to ask for a Yelp or Google review. Make it part of your organization’s process.

If and when you receive negative reviews, it’s essential to respond correctly. You may want to defend your business, but you must understand that your response is public. Some may use your answer to a one-star review to interpret whether the review is legitimate. For example, if you apologize and explain the situation that an upset customer faced, it may help you salvage the relationship with them and those who read the review. But a business owner who tells a bitter individual on Yelp or Google that they’re naive or a fool is only hurting their own business.

Keep track of what people say about your brand

Press and bloggers are always writing about their experiences with different businesses. This means that not every review will be a formal Yelp or Google review. Keeping track of what people are saying outside of reviews, such as via news articles, blog posts, tweets, or Instagram posts, is just as essential as star-based reviews.

Google Alerts is a terrific way to monitor your mentions. You can track anytime an article shouts out your company. Keeping an Instagram and Twitter account active also allows you to see what others are saying.

If someone says something negative about your business or product, treat any messages to them as a public response. If you respond rudely, it may anger an unhappy customer even more and push them to put you on blast — that includes posting your conversations publicly.

Your online reputation is critical to your brand. Social media, online reviews, and tracking what others are saying are essential components to your online reputation. Doing so ensures that your business is perceived reasonably and positively in the digital light.