The need for CEO's to manage their small business reputation online

The need for CEO's to manage their small business reputation online

An online presence is becoming a basic business standard in today’s global economy, and no one should understand that more than the man (or woman) at the top – the CEO.  While companies often scrutinize and monitor their standing on social media, are CEO’s as diligent at managing their presence?  For big corporations, this is standard practice, but for small to average sized companies, this all too often falls through the cracks.

There are some simple and quick steps to remedy this and build your online reputation while also boosting your company’s standing.  Sites like LinkedIn boost your personal, professional standing, as can other industry specific sites, but you want to keep your business front and center, and the best way to do that is through online word of mouth. 

Review sites.  A forum for both positive and negative feedback, you must constantly have the reputation of your business monitored.  If you have a slew of negative reviews, you will lose customers, particularly new business.  More than 50% of consumers between the ages of 25 and 45 years old rely on those reviews before making a decision to use a new business or service, and this is most prevalent in the service sector or for small business.

While you cannot prevent bad feedback from being published, what you can do is openly communicate (preferably in a public forum) to those that gave you a negative review or comment and let them know that you are addressing their concerns.  The reason most people turn to online reviews, especially the less than flattering ones, is because they want to be heard, so let them know you are listening.  As a consumer, it inspires confidence to see a business looking to improve and willing to engage a customer that has had an unsatisfactory experience.

While that strategy can work some of the time, here is something that works nearly every time: encourage clients, customers, and any supporters of your business to write positive online reviews.  Let everyone that uses your business know that their feedback is vitally important to the survival of your business, and you should have a place on your website for testimonials, reviews, etc.  Keep in mind that not all interactions are going to get you a 5-star rating, but most consumers look for an overall rating around 4 to 4.5 stars.  A solid 5-star rating isn’t feasible – someone somewhere is going to find you average.  It’s best to keep that in mind, while striving for an above average rating.

Also, have someone monitor your Facebook page weekly, if not daily.  I once saw a company ignore hundreds of negative comments on their Facebook page, refuse to answer the questions being posted by their customers, and then, slowly start deleting the negative comments.  The issue riled a few media savvy consumers and rather than the company responding to the allegations, the problems became the focus of 4 different network news teams over the space of a week, and cost them thousands of dollars in business.  While that is an extreme example, know that customers are looking to be heard and to have their concerns addressed.  It’s better to respond to each inquiry than to risk any damage to your reputation.