Many people have a negative view of online reputation management and with good reason. It’s fairly common for B2B marketing firms to place online reputation management way down on the list of priorities. That is until they get a bad review and it suddenly becomes an emergency situation and they are getting angry calls from the executives.
It’s more common than not. You are going about your business managing your B2B marketing strategy when a salesperson or executive pops by your desk with a panicked look telling you your firm has a terrible review on Yelp/Google/Facebook. Yikes!
Rather than waiting for this scenario to happen to you, we’ve got a few ideas about how to proactively manage your firm’s online reputation.
Do Claim Your Yelp and Google Business
Start by actively claiming your online profiles on various review sites such as Yelp (yes, even for B2B firms), Google Business, Facebook, etc. Whether you create these pages or not, they may already exist.
After you claim your business pages on these platforms, make sure the email associated with the alerts is checked regularly. Avoid using an “[email protected]” email address. Instead, use your email address or the address of the Marketing Director. This way any new reviews can be addressed quickly, efficiently, and before it causes internal panic.
Next, optimize your business profile on these platforms. Add high-quality images, company descriptions, contact information, videos, and a link back to your website.
Don’t Ignore Social Media
Your B2B firm’s online reputation isn’t solely based on reviews. It’s also based on comments, reactions, and shares of your content on social media. For example, if your B2B marketing includes posting to social media (which it should), a comment on a post that says something negative about your company affects your reputation. The same goes with blog comments.
In a recent presentation called “Hug Your Haters,” the online customer service expert Jay Baer shared statistics about what he calls the “Hatrix” (or who complains about your firm and why). According to a study he cited about complaints, 62% are considered “Offstage Haters” and 38% are “On-Stage Haters.” Off-stage haters typically complain to/about a company directly via email or phone. They want an answer and a resolution. However, on-stage haters complain about a company on social media and forums. These haters are looking for an audience and not really interested in an answer or a solution.
Online customer service has become more of a spectator sport over the past few years, so it’s important than your B2B firm isn’t ignoring social media and allowing a spectacle to take place. It’s also important to address both types of haters and to understand what is motivating them.
Do Respond Professionally
When responding to online reviews and comments, both positive and negative, always be professional. This does not mean your response should be a canned, generic response approved by legal. It does mean that every response should be personally tailored to the client and represent your B2B brand in the best light possible.
Online reputation management for B2B firms is an extension of your customer service department or values. Every interaction online is a chance to demonstrate your firm’s commitment to providing honest, thoughtful, caring service to each individual client. Keep this in mind when responding to anything online on behalf of your firm.
Don’t Get Rattled by Bad Reviews
Don’t let bad reviews cause panic or stress. Why? Bad reviews, even erroneous ones, can be great for business for several reasons:
- They tell you what clients think of your products or services
- They provide input for product/process improvements
- They are an opportunity to showcase your customer service
- They make good reviews credible
Bad reviews are a great way to hear what your clients honestly think of your products or services. They provide candid, honest feedback and can be used to improve what you have to offer. Reviews, good and bad, are also a great way to demonstrate how awesome your customer service is to potential clients. Lastly, they add credibility to all the good reviews you have – yes, it’s true. Think about it: if a company has 400 5 star reviews and not one bad review – do you trust that they are all genuine reviews? Probably not. However, if a company has 300 5 star reviews, 50 4 star reviews, and 10 – 15 2 star reviews – potential clients can see what the bad reviews say and compare them to the good reviews (hence building trust).
If you look at all the benefits that bad review offer (provided there is a balance of good and bad reviews), it makes managing and responding to them a less stressful affair.
Do Ask for Reviews
A B2B marketing strategy should include proactive online reputation management. Your sales and marketing team should be asking satisfied clients to leave reviews online. Make it easy by sending them the links to several platforms (like your Yelp, your Google Business page, or your Facebook page) and ask them to leave a review. Many clients, particularly in the B2B space are happy to leave a positive review if they are happy with your partnership.
Each request for a review should be personalized. Don’t send out a mass email asking for reviews as this will likely cause a spike in good and bad reviews and the review platforms will mark many of them as spam or won’t trust them. It’s better to have a steady stream of reviews over time, not all at once.
Don’t Pay for Reviews
We can’t stress this enough. Don’t pay for reviews, ever. Not only is this practice disingenuous, the reviews often look spammy or fake. This isn’t the type of impression you want to make on potential clients. Ideally, your firm should be personally asking for online reviews from happy clients and allow unsatisfied clients to provide feedback directly to your team (not via an online review platform).
We get asked a lot about online reputation firms. There are a handful of good ones out there that will simply provide the tools to effectively manage your reviews and increase the number of reviews you have from legitimate clients. However, there are a ton of shady reputation management firms out there that aren’t following best practices and their efforts could hurt your firm’s reputation in the long run. It’s important to carefully vet an online reputation management firm or tool to ensure it is following best practices so it adds value rather than hurts your firm’s brand.
Have other questions about reputation management? Let us know in the comments.