Brands and businesses are fully aware (or should be) that they must monitor digital coverage and chatter in order to stay ahead of potential crises—and in fact, most small businesses (88 percent) monitor their online reputation at least quarterly. But according to new research from B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch, monitoring is only one part of an effective online reputation management strategy.
The firm’s new report shows that small businesses should be more proactive by managing customer reviews, promoting their brand on social media, and diversifying their communications strategy.
Here are Clutch’s recommendations:
Respond to reviews and ask happy customers to write positive reviews
Responding to reviews is important, but businesses can do more to grow their collection of positive online reviews. The research found that only 40 percent of small businesses encourage customers to leave positive reviews.
According to Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of internet marketing agency SEO Image, a positive review can go a long way in building a brand’s reputation. “It’s not hard to get a happy client to write a review, but it does take a little bit of nudging,” Rabinowitz said, in a news release.
Promote your own brand on social media through valuable content
Social media is an effective tool for businesses that want to monitor and manage their online reputation, but it can also be an invaluable brand-building tool.
Most small businesses, however, use social media as a reactive rather than proactive tool: Only 44 percent of small businesses promote positive content about their brand on social media.
While positive content may include highlights of positive reviews and testimonials, it can also include original or curated content that addresses the needs and interests of the target audience.
“You want to help your target audience make the best decision for them—not just say how great you are,” said Lauren Elliott, marketing communications manager at web design and internet marketing agency TheeDigital, in the release.
Use multiple communication channels
Small businesses should also consider adopting an omnichannel communication strategy that includes online and offline channels. Nearly two-thirds of small businesses (64 percent) share announcements with customers using 2 or more communication platforms such as email, social media, and direct mail.
Businesses should consider their audience, the message they want to convey, and the message’s call to action when deciding where to communicate a particular message to consumers.
A business’s online reputation starts with consistent monitoring, but it doesn’t end there: In 2020, small businesses need to encourage customers to leave positive reviews, promote their own brand on social media, and adopt an omnichannel communications strategy.
Clutch surveyed 529 small business owners and managers in the U.S.