Phonebooks are no longer the de facto means of finding a business or product; these days, most people use the Internet to learn more about these things. Recent studies have shown that people are increasingly turning to social media to learn more about businesses, individuals, and products as well. In fact, some new social networks include services that accentuate favorable mentions and recommendations from friends, family, and contacts.
If a potential customer searches for you or your company online and finds mostly negative information, they are obviously less likely to do business with you. For this reason, it is important to utilize a reputation management service like Reputation.com that helps locate negative mentions across the Web. You can then react to these negative comments and reviews appropriately, either on your own blog or social network profiles or directly on the posts themselves.
When responding to negative information, be sure to maintain a professional and positive attitude. Address the specific concerns of the reviewer, do not just talk about how great your business or company is. Do not get hostile or make baseless accusations as you are not speaking only to the reviewer; other readers will be able to see what you have written. This is a great opportunity to prove how helpful and friendly your business is and that it is willing to work with disgruntled customers without rejecting their complaints outright.
Of course, there are situations where responding is not possible or makes little to no difference. A reputation management service can alert you to smear campaigns, exaggerated reviews or claims, outdated or unfairly reported legal issues, and more. You can then respond to these things on your own blog or through your social network profiles. You should be aware that linking out to these sites and posts can improve their standing in the search engines, so be careful as to how you approach the matter.
Most people use the Web to locate companies and research them before deciding whether or not to do business with them. If your company has a negative reputation across the Web, fewer potential customers are likely to trust you with their business. These potential customers expect your website to paint your business in a positive light and are going to search for comments and reviews from others as part of their research. Building a positive online reputation is key to growing your business.