Did you know that  2/3 of people are more likely to buy from a store if they find positive comments about it online?  Or that 1/2 of people are less likely to buy if the comments are negative.

Your business’s online reputation is comprised of:

  1. What you say about your business – your Digital Footprint
  2. What others say about your business – your Digital Shadow

As you know, everybody has an opinion, and today they’re sharing them online like never before.  They’re not just posting in Facebook and Twitter anymore, they’re using sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google, OpenTable, and dozens of others.

Consumers are having conversations about your business online, and users trust user generated content more than traditional media, so when people are talking about your business online, it makes sense to know where it came form and how to handle it.

Focussing on these four areas can help develop a winning online reputation that is both positive and visible.

  1. Listings & Visibility
  2. Reviews & Mentions
  3. Competition Monitoring
  4. Social Marketing

Listings & Visibility

To help people find your business, make sure it is listed where customers are looking. Google is the obvious place to start, but it is only one of dozens of sites that people use to look for businesses.  They use sites like Bing, Yelp, 411.ca, Weblocal.ca, YellowPages.ca and many others. Some people even expect the GPS in their car to know the name of your business

You also want to make sure the listings are accurate and up to date. If your address shows up 3 different ways on 3 different sites – or worse, has old location information, how is a new customer to know which one is correct, let alone find you? You’ll make customers – and Google – happy by having up consistent information anywhere your business is listed.

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Reviews & Mentions

Online reviews are gold. They are word of mouth advertising – people telling other people about your business.

Here are 3 steps to being successful with online reviews:

  1. Engage the reviewer.Respond to every online review: good and bad.   Why? What would you do if someone was in your store or at your business reviewing right now?  You might thank them for the review, you might make a recommendation if they couldn’t find something, or you might want to try to fix the situation if they weren’t happy about something.  You want to do the same online.
  2. Think of reviews as management tools- Good reviews: accolades, goal settings
    – bad reviews: staff training, policy issues
  3. Harvest user generated contentEncourage customers to leave online reviews and then publish review highlights in your other marketing materials

Competition Monitoring

With the tools available today we can monitor what are competitors are doing online and elevate our own presence.  We can watch and do things like:

  • post more social updates than they do
  • aim for better reviews
  • compare placement in searches for different keywords and develop content around our own weaker ranking terms
  • watch for their offers, then jump in at the right time

Social Marketing

Successful social marketing is about three things:

  1. Building fans
  2. Generating leads
  3. Customer service

Here’s 3 ways to build fans:

  1. Post interesting and relevant content. remember to vary the posts. no one would watch a tv channel with 24/7 commercials, why would they do that online
  2. Connect with influencers
    turn potential customers and loyal fans in to active brand ambassadors
  3. Create coupons, deals, and social offers

Having a fan base is great, but likes don’t always = dollars

.. every day though customers are declaring their intentions on social media. These are real time leads. as in twitter search: need a plumber, keys locked in car, etc.

Social media gives local business the revolutionary opportunity to connect with nearby customers who are ready and willing to purchase. Social media isn’t just about followers and likes. It can also be used to generate leads and conduct customer service in order to gain return on investment.

97% of consumers are looking for businesses on the web. It’s crucial to have accurate listings, positive reviews, regular social activity, a robust website, and successful ad campaigns. The better a business performs online, the more customers it can attract.