As a small business owner or someone looking to start their own business, do you have any clue as to what your online reputation is?
In many cases, people would answer no to that question, leaving them and their business dreams up in the air.
Given this is a day and age where just about everyone it seems is on the Internet in one capacity or another, knowing one’s online reputation becomes even more important, especially if you want your business to provide a steady and solid revenue stream.
So, why should your online reputation even matter when all is said and done?
Consumers Go Online to Research Goods and Services
Among the reasons, a 2012 Safe Home Products survey of U.S. shoppers, noted that 91 percent of consumers use online shopping for researching goods and services, while 78 percent stated they were going to spend added time using online shopping moving forward. The bottom line, that means more potential consumers are reviewing your company website, not to mention what you say on social media pages.
As a result of those numbers and others much the same, business owners need to make sure their online footprints will not trip them up.
Among the ways to make sure one’s online reputation is as sound as possible:
- Know why you are online to begin with - You should have a clearly defined reason as to why you and your company are doing social media and other online ventures. Are you doing it to attract more customers, be seen as an authority figure in your industry, or just to keep pace with your competition? When using social media or other online networks, make sure you come across as professional (see more below) and relevant. Doing any less could impact your online reputation with both current and potential customers;
- Know what you want to say - With all your responsibilities as a business owner, do you set aside the right amount of time to be productive online? For some business owners, they distribute the work they want completed with social media, blogging, engaging with customers. Others, however, like to take that hands-on approach. Whichever one suits your style, make sure there is time and effort properly allocated. If you or one of your employees has an issue involving a customer, don’t use social media as your pulpit to rant about it. Not only could you see a drop in business over the matter but it paints you and/or your business as unprofessional. If you are celebrating an event in the office, do not post images that may offend people on your business Facebook or Pinterest pages. What seems innocent to you could disturb others, including present and potential customers. Always think through whether or not something is appropriate for others to view online prior to posting;
- Know what is being discussed - The third and final point you want to note is knowing what is being said online regarding you and/or your company. Too many business owners get sidetracked in their everyday business dealings, therefore leaving them short of time to check their online reputations. Along with customers, there are businesses out there conceivably commenting about you and your company online, offering private information that you may not want public. Conduct a Google search periodically to view what is being discussed about you and your business, especially looking to downplay any negative details
With all that your business stands to lose when your online reputation is called into question, don’t take a chance on just assuming people are seeing and thinking good thoughts about you and your company.
If you do, it could be game over.
With 23 years of experience as a writer, Dave Thomas covers a wide array of topics for various websites, including Reputation.com.