When managing your business’s reputation online, even the smallest errors in judgment can balloon into potentially catastrophic mistakes. Particularly if yours is a small business, be sure avoid these eight common reputation management mistakes that could do serious damage to your business.
- Making promises you can’t keep. If you make a claim on your website or your social media accounts, you need to be able to deliver on it. Customers will notice if you’ve made false promises, and your reputation and credibility could suffer as a result.
- Badmouthing a client or a customer. Whatever you do, never badmouth a client or a customer on your website or your social media pages. Remember, the goal of cultivating an online presence is to attract customers — not repel them. Badmouthing a client or customer is sure to make a poor impression on other customers and will hurt your business in the long run.
- Deleting or ignoring negative comments. Deleting or ignoring negative comments is one of the most common online reputation mistakes, and it is potentially the most costly. You can’t just sweep a negative comment under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. Whether an unhappy customer has posted a frustrated post on your Facebook page or left an unflattering review on Google, it’s up to you to address it head on in a way that is helpful and nondefensive. By taking the time to deal with these negative comments, you will show customers that you care.And remember, when it comes to responding negative comments, make sure that you do so in a timely fashion. Otherwise, you could find yourself in hot water. Consider Southwest Airlines. When customers were charged multiple times because of a glitch and expressed their displeasure with the situation on Facebook, the company didn’t respond right away. It did, however, go through with a scheduled photo change on its Facebook account, which created the perception that the company had ample time to change pictures but not enough time to lend a helping hand to customers. Details like this matter on social media.
- Posting fake reviews. Posting fake reviews might seem like a convenient quick fix for small business reputation management, but in the long run, it is a horrible strategy that is bound to backfire. Customers can smell fake reviews from a mile away. The moral of the story is that when it comes to social media, honesty is always the best policy, a lesson that Wal-Mart is all too familiar with. The company’s PR campaign covertly sponsored a couple roaming across the U.S. in an RV. The couple passed their nights on the road in different Wal-Mart parking lots and they questioned various Wal-Mart employees as they traveled to gain insight about the Wal-Mart experience. Astoundingly, each and every one of the employees absolutely raved about their employer and how much they loved working at the store. When the company published the scam, astute social media users quickly realized that Wal-Mart was trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Wal-Mart eventually had to apologize for its deception.
- Sending intrusive personal messages. Social media is just like any other space — you need to respect personal boundaries. That means don’t send a customer a Facebook message at 4 a.m. recommending a new product. Be aware of what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, and act accordingly.
- Posting updates that are boring or irrelevant. It is crucial to tailor your social media and blogging content to the wants, needs, and preferences of your target audience. If your posts are perceived to be irrelevant or boring, customers will quickly become annoyed. You will lose followers and customers.
- Discussing politics. Being any party’s biggest supporter doesn’t mean you need to let all of your customers know it. In fact, it’s always best to keep your personal political views and opinions off your brands or companies social media all together. Just look at Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy. He made a comment about supporting traditional family values after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last summer. While the statement may have been small, it set off a huge controversy, and the brand quickly found itself in the midst of a political maelstrom. Gay rights activists held “kiss days” at restaurants, and people across the country organized boycotts of Chick-fil-A.
- Making grammar or spelling mistakes. Always proofread before you publish. Grammar or spelling mistakes in your social media posts, blog posts, or website content are a huge turn-off to customers and will damage your online reputation.
In order to mitigate the risk of making embarrassing online reputation mistakes that could damage your business and your bottom line, you need a coordinated small business marketing strategy. Your best bet is to contact a professional who can help you develop a comprehensive online marketing strategy and ensure effective small business reputation management.