Protect Your Online Brand
With 91 percent of all consumers conducting online research before purchasing a local product or service, it’s important to protect one’s brand. If a potential customer’s online search turns up negative comments about one’s business — such as unanswered customer complaints on social media or poor reviews on rating sites — they may not choose to do business with you.
Monitoring Your Brand
Keeping track of what people are saying about one’s business on the internet may seem like a daunting task, but it’s one worth undertaking. Brand monitoring can help identify problems in a business. Owners may not even know these problems exist, and many times a customer won’t tell the owner directly. But they’ll happily tell the rest of the world about the problems on Yelp, Google Reviews or other sites. By monitoring one’s online brand, one can see how customers feel about a business. In turn, one can better respond to customer needs and expectations. It helps owners respond to complaints and negative reviews before they get out of hand, and it helps maintain a positive and consistent image.
Ways to Manage Your Brand
Encourage Direct Contact
It’s becoming more common than ever for people to vent on social media or write angry reviews when they’re unhappy with a business. Often times, a contributing factor is their failure to get a direct response from the business. Businesses can make it easy for customers to reach a business directly. Businesses can design websites so contact information is easy to find. Owners should respond immediately to any phone calls or e-mails. Businesses should try to deal with the issue directly before the customer posts something online.
Respond Quickly to Negative Feedback
If someone does post something online, businesses should reach out to the individual and ask them to email or call to discuss their issue. Keep further discussion offline if possible. Trying to defend oneself in a back and forth conversation on Facebook isn’t the way to try and resolve the situation.
Track Brand Mentions Online
Reputation monitoring tools can help track mentions of your brand online. There are many out there. Do some research to see what’s available and to see how it can help. For example, Google Alerts, which is a free service, can be set up to monitor the internet for words and phrases you want to track (such as your business name).
The U.S. Small Business Administration has several resource partners that can assist with branding and other marketing needs. Visit SCORE, the America’s SBDC Iowa or the Iowa Women’s Business Center at the Iowa Center for Economic Success for more information.
Learn more about starting and growing your business at sba.gov.
Discover other IT & Data resources to help keep your small business up and running , as well as Marketing & Sales in The Partnership’s Small Business Resources Hub or sign up for the Small Business Resources newsletter and stay connected for information about upcoming events, other resources and the latest announcements in the small business community in Greater Des Moines (DSM).
Dave Lentell is the lead lender relations specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Iowa District Office. He helps coordinate SBA's small business loan programs in the state of Iowa and promotes SBA's programs to the small business community. He has been with SBA since 1993.