Geri Stengel

 
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What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Protecting Their Reputations

If you haven’t been convinced of the importance of social media yet – after all, your business isn’t a government in need of overthrowing – maybe the latest news out of England will wake you up.

A soccer player got a court order barring any mention in the press of his tawdry affair. Despite the court order, it all got out on Twitter, which wasn’t included in the injunction. After all, how can you stop the world from chatting?

brand, customer service, small business, social mediaWhy should that matter to the owner of a small business? Because what people say about you, your reputation, determines your ability to  attract new customers and retain current ones. And reputations are made and destroyed in social media.

If a disgruntled customer posts a bad review on Twitter, on Yelp, on any of the other websites that encourage customer evaluation of businesses, you’d better know about. And you’d better know about it right away.

At the very least, that means monitoring social media so you know when your business has been mentioned. When you get an accolade, be happy. When you get a complaint, respond. Fix it. Fix it as publicly as it was made, preferably in the same place it was posted.

The fix can be an apology, a discount, a refund or replacement. It may even be a reorganization of your order processing or a change in suppliers, depending on the complaint.

Learn the basics of monitoring your reputation, then learn how to build a positive web presence. Each social media platform has how-to instructions. Free resources abound. Check out Ventureneer’s free ebook. Although it says “nonprofit” in its title, it’s about small businesses, too.

Start slowly but start. Your reputation is your business.

Have you had an experience with a social media review, good or bad? How did you handle it? How do you keep on top of your reputation and protect your brand?