How Would You Like To Give Yourself A $100,000 A Year Pay Raise?
Well, That Is EXACTLY What You Can Do If You Actively Manage And Market Your Online Reputation.
Did you know that the Harvard School of Business showed conclusively that with active online reputation management you can, in fact, improve your overall reputation score. And if you actively manage your reputation and increase your reputation score by just one star you can increase your revenue by up to 5 to 11 percent. That's an incredible number! Just do the math. If you have a small business that generated just $1 million is revenue… increasing your reputation by just one star could increase your revenue by over $100,000. All by just by actively managing your reputation.
But "effective" reputation management isn’t simple and it isn’t easy. Don’t let anyone tell you different. There are a ton of ways that you can get into trouble with review sites and make matters even worse. There are far to many online reputation management companies that offer to many vague promises and charge way to much money. And it's way to easy to make a mistake and actually increase the ranking of a negative reviews instead of increasing the ranking of positive reviews. When it comes to online reputation management (ORM), it’s best to leave it to the professionals… and here is why.
THE PROBLEM WITH REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
As you probably already know, there are literally hundreds of review and reputation sites with more coming every day. To make matters worse, there are also "complaint boards" like Complaints Board, The Ripoff Report, and Pissed Consumer. The problem is that most reputation management companies use software that does not scan for these sites. Most online reputation management software only works with sites that provide API's - application programming interface. Bottom line: when it comes to online reputation management, you still need to be hands-on. You simply can't automate every process. It's impossible.
So, how in the world is a business owner supposed to monitor all of these site and all the comments being placed on them all while trying to run their business?
Well you could hire a full-time employee to do it. But that just brings it's own set of problems. Like taxes, workman's comp, liability and more. Or, you could do it yourself. But that would take a lot of time, researchs and resources most business owners don't have. But lets assume that you or your employee are trying to manage your reputation across all of these sites. How do you know you (or your employee) are doing it right? How do you know you are not violating a sites terms of service? How do you know you are not going to make the situation worse?
In fact, did you know that you can actually get black listed by several (if not most) review sites for violating their terms of service? For example, Yelp has one of the harshest punishments… they litterally label your business as a "Cheater" for the whole world to see. Just take a look at this screen shot:
So, what do you think this kind of reputation will do to your business. Heck, if you think having a one-star or two-star online reputation is damaging to your business, imagine what being black listed is going to do.
But back to our point. Most review sites (like Yelp) do a poor job of communicating their policies and terms of service.
Let's look at Yelp as an example.
You’ll hear people claim, “Yelp says you can’t ask for reviews!” And they're right. Yelp has pages on their site that supports that very statement. But it isn't easy to find and most business owners don't know where to look. As a result, most business owners get into a world of hurt, simply because they don't know any better.
So are you telling me that just by asking my customers to give me a review or offering a rebate for doing so, it could very well put me in violation of their policies and get me blacklisted? YES. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE SAYING.
Just how bad is the situation between business owners and Yelp? Well, see for yourself. For being a reputation site, Yelp sure does a terrible job with their own. (check it out https://yelp.pissedconsumer.com/).
Bottom Line: Yelp isn't very fair to business owners.
The allegations range from burying 4 and 5 stars reviews in their "not recommended" section" down to bombarding business owners with sales calls and holding their reputation hostage by blacklisting a business. They just don't make it easy. Well, I'll just call a customer service line and get Yelp to help me. Well, good luck with that. Just try to find a customer service number you can call to get help. We'll let you in on a little secret so you don't waste your time looking – there isn't one. And this is Yelp we're talking about. Now just image these same issues and concerns multiplied by the number of review sites and complaints board your business is on.
A BIGGER PROBLEM – YOU HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO PLAY.
It's true. When it comes to your online reputation you have no choice but to play the game. You simply can't opt-out of a reputation site. Your business is on these reputation sites whether you want it to be or not. So, you either actively manage your online reputation or it will manage itself. Look, in the military there is something known as "information dominance." In fact, the United States Navy has created an entire community for this very purpose. Don't you think you should do the same for your business? After all, you either control the conversation or it will control you.
SO WHAT IS A BUSINESS OWNER TO DO?
Well, the simple answer is: you hire the professionals.
Look, when you have a legal problem, do you go to the law library and pull out the books, take the time to do all the research, write and file your pleadings, and go to trial… or do you pick up the phone and call a lawyer? Or maybe a better analogy is that you need heart surgery. Are you going to do the surgery yourself? Are you going to go to med student fresh out of school, or are you going to go to a cardiothoracic surgeon with over 20 years experience?
Why would it be any different for something as important as your online reputation?