An interview I conducted for my upcoming book was on the topic of social media…
On a Quest to Build a Strong Online Reputation for your Small Business?
Online reputations are just as important for Small Businesses as an impeccable balance sheet and financial record. Nowadays most client-business relationships are built online; this is a given fact. More and more consumers search for and buy products and services online now than ever before.
With that in mind, your quest should be to build a solid and trusted online reputation – it’s a critical requirement for the success of your Small Business.
But what does online reputation mean?
It’s a complex and ongoing activity of building a coherent and uniform image throughout online channels where your business and your audience are present.
Questions to get you thinking:
- Do you regularly share valuable information on your website?
- Do you use a similar tone of voice through your website and across your social media profiles?
- Are you listening to and engaging with your followers on your blog and social media profiles?
If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, you are on the right path to building a healthy and sound online reputation for your Small Business.
Building a solid online reputation for your business is something you need to work on regularly and consistently. It’s not a set-and-forget strategy. The ideas below will give you some ideas to develop your Small Business’ online reputation:
1. Be authentic across all platforms
Don’t build a false image for your business or entice people with promises you cannot keep. Consumers will not be tricked by a business which has one message on social media, and a totally different one on its website and then a different one in their local offline store. Stay true to your business’ culture and personality across all online and offline platforms, your customers will respect you for it.
2. Do not oversell your business on social media
Social media is an online forum where people want to meet friends, see photos and videos and read interesting, funny and useful information; generally, they are there to be social. They will follow businesses because they are interested in their content and, of course, any offers specifically for followers, but they will become annoyed if every post you make is a sales pitch.
Create a good content mix on your social media profiles. Use topics such as “tip of the day”, “latest news”, “funny photo” to keep your followers engaged and you will see that they will be more responsive to your self-promotions.
3. Talk with your followers, not at them
When your prospects start interacting with you online, use that as an opportunity to build rapport and trust. Answer their questions, acknowledge their input and always show respect. In short, prove to them that you are listening, that their comments matter to you and that you are willing to help them.
4. Be (almost) everywhere your prospects are
People are active across a lot of different online and social media platforms and so should your business. It is important to be active on as many of the social media platforms where your prospects are. But start with the one that makes the most sense to you and add others once you’ve mastered the first.
5. Be seen as a valuable (free) resource
Whatever type of content you share, either on your blog, website or through social media, make sure that it is meaningful to your prospects. Ask yourself “will they find this content interesting, entertaining or helpful?” If your content satisfies these criteria, you’ll be creating a valuable content strategy which, ultimately, validates your Small Business in the eyes of your prospects and existing customers, and helps build your business’ reputation online.
As Small Business owners, you have a unique opportunity to use all your business’ online platforms to project it as a knowledge leader in your industry: a business worthy of their business.
Do you have any questions about building your business’ online reputation? Post them in the comments; I’d love to answer them.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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