As a small business owner, you may not often think about your brand . . . or you may think that branding is something that only big corporations need to worry about. But thanks to social media, the role of branding has changed. In today’s world, all businesses—even individuals—need to recognize the importance of managing their brand online. If you don’t manage it, others will manage it for you, which is never a good thing.
Every business has an occasional bad day—and customers sometimes have bad experiences at even the very best businesses. The problem is that today one bad customer experience can become immortalized via social media. For example: when a prospect searches for your business on Google™, it’s possible that someone’s negative rant about your business will come up in the search results . . . and the person searching for you will be influenced by what he or she reads. This is why managing your brand online is so important.
While it’s important that you respond to negative feedback, how you respond is also critical. As Alicia Magda discussed here in a recent blog post, you need to keep your C.O.O.L. when responding. If you’re new to social media, it’s easy to feel defensive when subjected to negative posts that everyone else can see. Just remember that people who frequent social media and review sites KNOW that negative comments often reflect more about a particular customer than about a particular business—and if those comments are handled professionally, that becomes all the more apparent.
I noticed on Yelp recently that a local restaurant had a scathing review amongst several nice ones. The bad one was so bad, however, that it practically overshadowed the good ones. There was another entry, however, a month later written by the same disgruntled patron that explained how the manager of the restaurant contacted her and personally invited her back to the restaurant for a free dinner. This is an example of good online brand management—the manager didn’t respond directly, but took care of the customer offline, which in turn prompted a positive review. This effectively neutralized the negativity of the original post.
There are many tools and practices that can help you effectively manage your brand online. What has or hasn’t worked for you? We’d like to know.