November 17th, 2015

164_A_Int RepThe majority of the population uses the Internet everyday. And when a customer feels they’ve been wronged, it is incredibly easy for him or her to go online and vent their frustrations. So when this happens, how do you handle it? Here are some tips as to how to react to negative brand criticism, so that you can paint a positive image of your business online.

Online reputation management mistakes

As long as you have a successful business or brand, people will always have something to say about it. And when it comes to online reputation management, the goal is to create positive engagement with your customers for the life of your business. So if the discussion about your brand swings negative, here are a few online reputation blunders to avoid.
  1. Ignore negative commentary - when you ignore negative comments or accusations about your brand, anger towards your business can fester, especially when there are a lot people rallying against you. Years ago, Nestle’s brand image was severely damaged by Greenpeace’s campaign against them. If they hadn’t ignored the problem at first, much of this likely would have been avoided. When it comes to your brand, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should respond to every negative comment. If someone is trolling your public discussion boards, then you can give their remarks a pass. However, if the negative post appears credible, you need to address it.
  2. Reacting emotionally - if your reaction to negative comments is to fire back with negative comments, it’s certain to make you look bad. Customers want to do business with a brand that is professional. If you react emotionally or negatively to a customer online, who’s to say you wouldn’t do the same in real life to the person reading it?

How to resolve negative commentary

While you may feel upset by a negative comment about your brand, don’t let your emotions get the better of you by posting something you’ll later regret. Instead, calm down, compose yourself, and follow these guidelines.
  • Figure out what the customer really wants - every customer wants their problem to be resolved, but how they want their issue fixed will vary. Some customers want an apology, others want a refund, and some may simply want the product they ordered but did not receive. Read the negative comment carefully to figure out what would make your customer happy, then proceed in the following manner.
  • Imagine you’re responding to your grandmother - you would never say something rude or hurtful to your grandmother, and you shouldn’t to your customers either. When a customer comes to you with a problem, rephrase it back to them to ensure you understand it correctly, and then explain how you’ll solve it. And just like you would if your grandmother came to you with a problem, be sensitive and do your best to help.
  • Stick to the facts - when engaging with a customer online, the initial comment can quickly turn into a back-and-forth discussion. If this happens, don’t get off-topic when addressing the problem. The customer may try to engage you in a he-said she-said battle, but avoid taking the bait. Respond with facts, stick to the matter at hand, and don’t get caught up in personal accusations.
  • Turn the negative into a positive - negative feedback is an opportunity to improve your business. So be honest with yourself and, if there’s truth in the comment, take a good hard look at your company. Did the commentator point out a glaring problem you can improve upon? Remember, a business is nothing without its customers, so it makes sense to do your best to please them.
To learn more about how to best manage your online reputation, or for assistance with any of your IT needs, get in touch with our experts today.
Published with permission from Source.

October 6th, 2015

164_A_Int RepOn Facebook, the number of likes your business page gets is currency. It shows authority and that your business is popular with customers. So, what would happen if suddenly a dislike button were released? How would that impact your business? You may have recently heard that a Facebook dislike button is in the making. Here’s what you need to know about this polarizing new feature.

For many years people have been clamoring for a dislike button on Facebook. But up until now, perhaps the world was not ready. According to research from Piper Jaffray and the Pew Research Center, the demographics of Facebook users have changed dramatically over the past decade. While 10 years ago the world’s most popular social media platform was frequented mostly by teenagers and early 20-somethings, today over 60% of Facebook users are over the age of 25. And you may have noticed that this change of user is reflected in the posts you likely see in your news feed. While users once posted more pictures of parties, now you’re more likely to see pictures of babies, news articles, or political stories.

So, why does this age difference matter? According to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, he didn’t want the social media network to turn into a forum where “people are voting up or down on people’s posts.” This could quite possibly have been the outcome had Facebook introduced a dislike button while it had a younger fan base.

Will users be able to dislike your business?

It is highly unlikely this will happen. Remember, Facebook is a publicly traded company that aims to turn a profit. Advertisers and brands would not be too happy if their ads or businesses were suddenly disliked, and Zuckerberg is undoubtedly aware of this.

What’s the point of the dislike button then?

To clarify, Zuckerberg never directly came out and said Facebook is getting a dislike button. Instead, he said they are working on a new button that will express sympathy or empathy. And with a now-older user base that’s more likely to share emotive news stories or sad news about family matters, it makes sense for a button like this to be introduced now. Here’s what the Facebook CEO had to say about the new button: “Not every moment is a good moment, right? And if you are sharing something that is sad…like the refugee crisis that touches you…it might not feel comfortable to Like that post.”

Be wary of third party offers to download a dislike button now

Be aware that a dislike button is not available now. While you or your employees may see ads from third parties offering early access to the “dislike button”, do not be fooled by them. If you are tricked into installing or signing up for them, you could risk your computer being infected with malware.

Want more social media news and advice on how to manage your reputation online? Call us today to talk with one of our experts.

Published with permission from Source.

August 20th, 2015

InternetSocialNetworkingandReputationManagement_Aug18_AThe more your company expands, the bigger its online presence will become. This means keeping eye on what your company puts online, as well as what others are saying about you, becomes a vital task. Online Reputation Management (ORM) is important, and here’s how you can get started with it.

ORM is still a relatively new concept, and one that small and medium-sized business owners may not yet be familiar with. Simply put, ORM is the monitoring and protecting of your company’s reputation online. Not only are you looking out for what your company is producing, but also what other people are saying about you.

You only control a limited amount of your company’s message. Consumers using social media control the rest and can often times make or break your company. That is why more and more businesses are investing resources in ORM. While many companies choose to handle their ORM in-house, there are ORM service providers who can take care of the process for you.

Search for your company

Once you’ve determined who will be looking after your ORM, it’s important to see how your business stacks up. The first thing you should do is search for your company on Google. The results are often telling for your business. Being at the top of the search results is a good sign, and shows your website has strong SEO terms and social media presence. If your company doesn’t appear on the first two pages of search results, or the results that come up aren’t what you want people to see, it’s time for your ORM team to get to work.

Bolster your online presence

Creating quality content - to boost where your business shows up in the search results, or push down negative content - is the next step for your ORM. Remember, most people only bother with the first two pages of Google search results, so you want to own those. Other ways to bolster your online presence include registering with online business directories like Yelp or These sites almost always rank very well in search results.

Another positive step would be to expand your social media portfolio to include sites you might not think of right away, like Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and even Tumblr. Being active on just a couple of these channels can further improve your exposure.

Set up a monitoring system

Finally, setting up a monitoring system will ensure your ORM is always up to date with your company's online profile. Signing up for Google Alerts can guarantee you are always informed of new brand or keyword mentions, while tools like Tagboard and TweetBinder will search various social networks for keywords and hashtags related to your business. These are valuable tools to ensure you’re on top of what's happening to your business online.

At the end of the day, your online reputation needs to be not only robust, but sterling as well. That is why dedicating resources to ORM can not only protect your business, but help it grow as well. Clients will find your business easily when they search for it, and the results they do find will be the things you want them to see.

Want to know more about ORM or anything else internet-related? Contact us and we can help your business today.

Published with permission from Source.

May 22nd, 2015

InternetSocRepMngmnt_May22_ASocial media has grown to a great extent in the last decade, revolutionizing the Internet through its ability to connect people and open new business opportunities. Many companies are now aware of the importance of establishing an online presence, and so have created business accounts on various social media platforms. As a business owner, you know that having a good online reputation is essential for business growth, whereas a bad online reputation could bring your business to its knees. Here are some reasons it’s important to have a positive online reputation.

Trust and credibility

Trust and credibility are two important factors and could either make or break your business’s online reputation. If you can over-deliver on your customers’ expectations, there’s a good chance they will spread the word about their experience - and that’s great for your business. Take the time to earn your clients’ trust, and you’ll be rewarded with a strong brand image that will attract more potential clients for years to come.

Increased sales

Customers are more likely than ever to research brands, products, and services online before they make the decision to purchase. Make sure you have social media accounts ready, and ask your existing customers to follow you. Post regularly about your products, along with other valuable content related to the nature of your business to grab your customers’ attention. Personal interaction with customers is a great strategy to boost sales, so don’t let their comments go unanswered - see that you respond in a timely manner to every one of them to show that you value their business.

Online insights

Today, it’s very common to see negative feedback on a business’s social media pages. If things aren’t addressed properly, a negative comment or review could be the start of your business’s downfall, since they spread like wildfire online. By establishing an online presence you will gain a valuable insight into what your clients and competitors are saying about you and, if it’s something bad, you can step in and rectify the issue before it goes viral.

Show your best side

Potential customers are online right now, researching your company before doing business with you. Some of them don’t know you well enough to make immediate decisions, and so will judge your business on the basis of the information that is available to them. Whatever the products or services you provide for customers, once the feedback appears online, it sticks. This is a chance to present your company in a good light to attract more customers, which converts into increased revenue.

Always remember that it can only take a few seconds to destroy a brand’s online reputation that took years to build. Contact us today for advice on how to build an online reputation for your business.

Published with permission from Source.

April 17th, 2015

InternetSocRepMngment_Apr17_AWe all know how important social media is to create and maintain a business’s online reputation. As a small business owner, you’ve probably used social media to establish a connection with your customers and share stories that will shine a positive light on your brand. While social media is a great tool to foster your business name, if used incorrectly it could just shatter your online reputation. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when implementing social media marketing in your business.

Choosing the wrong person to manage your accounts

With a vast selection of social media channels out there, it is normal for businesses to have more than one account. But are you employing the right person capable of managing these accounts? Think about it: your company’s social media accounts are used to portray who you are, and to communicate with customers on a regular basis. In short - this is a job that could make or break your reputation, and you should be extra careful when selecting someone for this position.

Expressing your personal opinion

You’re making a big mistake if you let your emotions get in the way when posting content on your business’s social media profiles. Discussing religion, politics, or other controversial issues may turn off people who matter to your business. Unless they’re relevant to the nature of your business, avoid mentioning sensitive topics. Instead, try to keep a neutral tone, since the goal of your social media efforts is to appeal to everyone.

Deleting or ignoring negative comments

Negative feedback can be painful to hear but, if you can put aside your pride, it is a real opportunity for improvement. When customers post a negative comment, deleting or ignoring it can make things go from bad to worse. Customers may think that you’re not taking their issue seriously, and could resort to posting complaints on all sorts of platforms, which quickly become impossible to control. Don’t let things get out of hand - reply in a timely manner and try to solve their problems as best you can.

Posting fake reviews

Another online reputation mistake is to post negative reviews on your competitors’ website to dampen their credibility. This underhanded strategy is ethically wrong. Similarly, hiring someone to leave a good review for your company is inadvisable. Instead, focus on delivering high-quality products and services to generate authentic customer reviews, which can really pay off in the long run.

Being inconsistent

To build a good online reputation, you need to be consistent. Your social media fans followed your page for a reason - they have certain expectations that you will post regular and interesting content. Updating social media with ten posts one day, followed by complete silence for the following few weeks, is a bad example of consistency. Don’t disappear for days or weeks on end. Try to schedule a routine and interact with your audience on a regular basis.

A credible online reputation is an important part of your business’s public image. If you want to discuss how to establish an online presence, contact us today and we can help.

Published with permission from Source.

March 13th, 2015

InternetSocialNetworkingandReputationManagement_Mar13_ACracking the unspoken code to social media business superstardom can be mindboggling. Even if you have the time to dedicate several hours a week to social media, you may still be baffled at where and how to focus your efforts. Look no further, there are some fundamental solutions that can blast your social media marketing to new heights. Here are a few key methods for ensuring social media success for your business.

Why social media is a must for marketing your small and medium business Social media is at the forefront of the “soft sell” revolution. In fact, social media advertising can sometimes be such a soft sell that, when you’re on the receiving end, you may not even know you’re being sold anything in the first place. For example, you may have a friend who posts fun articles from their blog or pictures of their artwork (that they actually make a profit from) on Facebook. You may enjoy their content so much that you decide to share it and pass it along to friends and family. Know what you just did? You just became a marketer for their business. That simple share may just have garnered them a new customer and more profits.

This is why it’s an absolute must to carve out your piece of the pie in social media. You’ll grow your fanbase, and potentially create a following of loyal supporters who are happy to market your business - some of whom won’t even be aware they’re doing it. Here are a couple of tips on how to grow your social media audience.

Publish content

Every piece of content you publish is an advertisement for your business, regardless of whether you’re directly selling a product or sharing fun information. Not only that, but if you publish valuable content often, your readers will know you’re a reliable go-to source for information on your topic. That leads to a good reputation, people spreading the word about you and, consequently, referrals. You’ll grow your fanbase and online presence simultaneously.

Be human, be genuine

Trust is key. To become a player in social media, your audience needs to trust you. And if you want long term success in social media, that trust needs to be genuine. People can smell a faker, even over the Internet.

So be human and genuine with your customer interaction and published content on social media. If you do, you’ll develop a fan base that truly loves you and will be spread the word about your business without being prompted.

Think about it, how many times have you recommended a business that you love to one of your friends or family? When you did this, you didn’t believe you were marketing someone’s brand, but helping your friend or family member out. You wouldn’t have done this if you didn’t trust this business or believe their product or solution to be genuine.

Give back

To take the point above a step further, why not do a community service project in your local city or town? This gives you an opportunity to document the experience on social media. As mentioned above, this content is free advertising. And if you do something that is unique and genuinely helps your community, people are likely going to share it - growing your fan base in the process. In the end not only do you win, but also your fans and community.

Want more social media tips to help you garner an outstanding online reputation? Get in touch and see how we can assist.

Published with permission from Source.

February 19th, 2015

RepAMost people over the age of 20 would agree it’s not wise to accept a friend request from a stranger on Facebook. That profile image of a voluptuous vixen in a string bikini, that you swore you just saw in a lipstick commercial, is likely a dude who lives in his parent’s basement with nothing better to do than hack your account. But when it comes to LinkedIn, what’s the right move when a stranger sends you an invite? Here are some of the reasons you might want to accept or reject that LinkedIn invitation.

Why to reject

Rejectors of stranger invitations have a common argument that’s hard to dispute. If you connect with a stranger, and a trusted member in your network (who you actually know) asks for an introduction to that connection, you may look a bit silly saying you’ve never met the guy. This scenario can obviously be a bit awkward. And LinkedIn rejection enthusiasts like to use this argument as their trump card to silence the opposition.

To go along with this, they may further ask what would happen if that stranger started requesting introductions to valued members of your network? Again, you might find yourself in an awkward situation.

The core philosophy of any LinkedIn invite rejector is that your network should be made up of people you know and trust. Some people see a connection on LinkedIn as an endorsement of that person. If strangers in your network have a bad reputation that you don’t know about, and others see that you’re connected with them, it could be a bad reflection on you.

Why to accept

More people seem to lean toward connecting with LinkedIn strangers than against. But does that actually make it the right decision? Why do people choose to accept invitations from people they don’t know?

People with 500+ connections appear powerful, even if most of their connections are with strangers. Seriously, think about it. Who would you be more likely to trust, a person with 70 connections or one with over five hundred?

More connections also mean a higher chance of being found. More and more recruiters are jumping on the LinkedIn bandwagon and, whether you’re looking for freelance work or for a new job, LinkedIn is a great place to be found. The more connections you have, the easier it is for you to appear in search results.

What’s more, a higher connection count can lead to your profile reaching a larger audience. If you have a business, feel like you have something to say or just want to speak your mind in a professional manner (save the posts about your drunken exploits for Facebook), LinkedIn presents an excellent opportunity to get your voice heard. And the more connections you have, the more people you’ll have the opportunity to influence.

The choice is yours

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to connecting with strangers on LinkedIn. It comes down to personal preference and objectives. If you want your network to be trusted individuals you actually have a relationship with, then it’s better for you to reject those stranger requests. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more opportunities and are self-employed, connecting with strangers can be a great way to drill up more business.

But there is middle ground, too. Maybe you don’t connect with just any old stranger (like that guy who works for the Bank of Nigeria), but if there is someone who is a friend of a friend or who works in your field, it might be worth connecting with them. Remember, your friends were once strangers too, so maybe that request from Bill who works at your local hardware store will turn into a blossoming business relationship. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

If you’re looking to learn more about LinkedIn and other social media platforms, contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from Source.

March 28th, 2012

Twitter has become a massively popular social media tool - a way for businesses to get their name out there and provide instant updates on what they are doing. This can go two ways as customers can also interact with, and provide thoughts about your business. At times these reviews or tweets can be a little negative. The unfortunate thing about this is that all people subscribed to the feed will see the negative remarks. Do you know what to do when you get negative tweets?

Traditionally, the general rule regarding complaints was that a disgruntled customer or client will tell up to 20 people when they are unhappy, versus 5 when they are happy. When a complaint is made on Twitter, chances are very high it will be seen by more than 20 people. Complaints on Twitter should be taken seriously, even one complaint could damage your online reputation. Here are a few tips on dealing with this new breed of online customer service.

Ensure Team Alignment If you have more than one person looking over your social media accounts, or someone other than you looking over it, you need to be sure that they are experts on your products and services. This is important because it is them who will be responding to questions and complaints. If you don’t have an FAQ section set up, it is a good idea to establish answers to the most commonly asked questions, as well as answers or responses to any frequent complaints. This will provide you and your employees with a way to quickly handle displeased customers.

Prompt Response is Key Oftentimes, a quick response will go a long way in dampening the complaint. As people, we like to be acknowledged and when it is done promptly, we are more likely to be open. Many complaints are made when people are mad, and as such, the complaints tend not to show the whole picture. If you quickly respond, ask for more information or suggestions on what you can do to help, the complainer will often give you valuable feedback to use. If the complaint is serious, it is a good idea to acknowledge the complaint briefly, and then pursue a private dialogue. The average window to respond is 2-3 hours from the time of the complaint, so try to at least acknowledge the complaint within that time.

Personal Responses go a Long Way As with any response to complaints, it is a good idea to personally respond. If you use a company account, the response or apology will be read as insincere, and potentially make the problem worse. Many people feel valued when they are contacted from the owner’s or manager’s personal company account. In small businesses like yours, it is a good idea that someone at the very top replies. This will make it look like you care.

Word Limits, We Don’t Need No Word Limits The 140 character limit is usually not enough to explain yourself, or conduct damage control. So, don’t limit yourself to just the 140 characters. Use the space to acknowledge the complaint, and ask the person who lodged the complaint for their email so you can help them.

Pick Your Battles Remember one of the most important sayings in business: “You can’t please everyone, all the time.” There will always be people who complain simply because they can. In an ideal world, you would be able to personally address and solve each and every complaint, but chances are high you won’t be able to do that. Use your business sense about the complaints, or have a colleague look at the complaint and debate about what you should do.

With careful responses that are prompt and personal, there is a high chance you will turn the complaint into praise, and not only keep your client, but look good while doing it. If you have any questions about Twitter or any other social media tools, please give us a call.

Published with permission from Source.

January 24th, 2012

While professional social networking site LinkedIn is much used by many businesses, many organizations only skim the top of the potential benefits. These tips will help you improve the way you utilize this unique social networking tool.

With a still-growing user base of at least 120 million, LinkedIn has become THE professional social networking tool of many businesses. While Facebook is still the major network on the personal side, LinkedIn's importance in the business-to-business world is growing.

With LinkedIn, your social networking strategy doesn't have to be complex, and smaller companies, in particular, can quickly see results with just a little effort. Here are a few pointers to help you maximize the positive effect of your LinkedIn connections.

Be comprehensive. "Short and sweet" may be the rule of thumb in any other kind of forum, but for professional purposes it's always best to include as many credentials about you and your business as possible. It's helpful to give potential clients and connections the full story on your strengths which means listing past employment and work experience, academic backgrounds, pertinent skills, competencies and certifications, and even educational backgrounds. It's important to understand that many of the people who will enlist your services will only have your online credentials to go on, so give them a complete picture of what you've done and can do.

Customize your URL. When you create a LinkedIn profile, the site auto-generates a URL for that profile. But did you know that you can customize and change that URL? By changing it to reflect your business, it makes you much easier to remember and find.

Be involved. Much like in Facebook, a LinkedIn profile is useless if you simply post and forget. It's essential to keep your info up to date, and interact with people by posting questions and comments. Proactive, educational input into the groups that serve your potential clients will build a good impression with professionals who are looking for the services or products that your company supplies.

We are always ready to help you build your business, so let us help you build your customer connections.

Published with permission from Source.