When it comes to discussing online reviews and ratings, and brand mentions that top the list of organic search results, small business owners often feel stressed and concerned. “I don’t want my small business on that site. Difficult customers could write negative, untrue things about us!” is the type of thing I hear a lot.

But the fact is: people are going to talk about you whether or not you have a claimed, verified listing on those common sites, so you are better off claiming your small business presence, optimizing your business profile, and then make a plan to monitor and respond as needed to both positive and negative comments.

I invited my colleague and friend, Ronda VanBuren of Bella V Marketing, for a blog Q&A to discuss the topic of reputation management. This is one of Ronda’s specialties, and she’s got a lot of wonderful knowledge to share with us.

Reputation Management 101 for Small Business Owners 

Reputation Management 101 for Small Business Owners

Q: What is Reputation Management?

A: Reputation Management is monitoring and responding to reviews and comments that are shared by people online about your business.

Q: Is it something a small business needs to be concerned about?

A: Yes, according to Podium.com, 93% of people say an online review has impacted their purchasing decision.

Q: What’s the best way to get started with setting yourself up successfully in regards to Reputation Management?

A: To get started, make sure you go into the major review sites and claim your page. Make sure while setting up your page, you turn on notifications for reviews. I also suggest you create a process to monitor, respond, and ask for reviews.  For example: Set a specific time during the day that you respond to your online reviews and send emails asking for reviews from clients.

If you do not collect emails as part of your process, I suggest asking for reviews as part of your check out process.  You can include a postcard that explains how to review your business online in the bag or the receipt holder.

Q: Why should small businesses respond to online reviews?

A: People understand that sometimes, no matter our effort, things will go wrong.  However, what the online review reader wants to see is how you respond when things go south. Do you attack the reviewer for leaving an honest review, or do you apologize and offer a solution?

If you are more of a fact person: “89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews” (BrightLocal)

Q: How does a small business determine what sites they need to check and monitor to manage their business’s reputation?

A: I suggest all businesses monitor the major reputation sites: Google, Yelp, and FaceBook.  If you are in the hospitality industry, I would also monitor TripAdvisor.   

To find more review sites that are relevant to your industry, Google: “[insert the name of your industry]  +reviews” 

Q: How often and what are the best ways to stay on top of online reviews for your business?

A: The best way to stay on top of your reviews is to set up alerts/notifications and create a process to respond to the reviews. If you don’t have time, or would prefer a professional to respond, hiring a Reputation Management Company is a great way to to stay on top of our online reputation.

Q: Anything else a small business should know about it?

A: When responding to a review, personalize your response as much as possible.  If the review is negative, try to take the conversation offline by giving the reviewer your contact information if you do not have it already.  If you do, let the reviewer know you will be reaching out to them to address the situation.

More about Ronda VanBuren

Hi!  I am Ronda.  I am the Owner of Bella V Marketing.  I have worked in the Digital Space since 2007.  I have worked in all aspects of the digital world including SEO, Website Development, Content Management, Video Content and Search Engine Marketing.  My favorite part has always been when everything comes together and the magic happens!  That is why I started Bella V Marketing.  Learn more about what my team and I do at www.bellavmarketing.com.

In my spare time, I love exploring with my family, yoga, wine, and running! This year, I am going to complete my first Ragnar Trail race.

Connect with Ronda Online:

Website: Bella V Marketing
Twitter: @BellaVMarketing
Facebook: @BellaVMarketing
Instagram: @TheBellaVMarketing

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