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For small and medium businesses, reputation is everything. From the products you sell to the service you deliver, your reputation can either make or break your business. Many business owners and marketers of SMEs believe that achieving and maintaining a glowing reputation is just about keeping customers happy. The truth is, keeping a positive position in consumer’s eyes requires a much more strategic approach than this. Online presence is critical when it comes to reputation and, with so much user-generated content available to consumers now, keeping a close eye on what is being said and controlling the conversation is critical. Here are a few tried and tested ways that SMEs can keep their reputation glowing.

Focus on search engine optimization

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Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important parts of your business’s online presence. While a small company might only have a limited presence in terms of brick-and-mortar locations, there are no constraints to online presence. Online reputation management with SEO is a powerful way of both maintaining and improving your brand’s reputation. This strategy can put your business in front of the right audiences and help establish your brand as a credible and legitimate source of information. From digital PR to SEO content creation, there are many different SEO strategies that can support your glowing reputation. Not only can publishing regular SEO content improve online traffic by 350% but it can help you to control the conversation around your business. Click here to find out more.

Encourage online reviews and feedback

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A huge 93% of consumers have said that online reviews have influenced their purchasing decisions. When you are looking to build and manage your online reputation as an SME, then you must be encouraging customers to leave reviews about your products and services. There are endless benefits to online reviews for small brands, and one of the most important considerations is that they increase trust among consumers.

A lot of business owners are wary of asking for customer feedback out of fear of receiving negative reviews. Negative feedback is a natural part of any business, and certainly not something to shy away from. If your products and service are generally good overall, then the majority of consumers will leave you positive feedback and improve your reputation. It is inevitable that when asking customers for feedback, you will receive a handful of poor reviews.85% of consumers go out of their way to look for negative reviews because they believe it helps them to make an informed purchasing decision. Having only five-star feedback can result in your brand looking unauthentic and unrealistic, so negative reviews are certainly not something to shy away from.

Encouraging feedback from existing clients not only helps to build an online reputation, but it can help you to improve your business offering. Customers can provide some very useful feedback, which can be used to enhance the overall experience of your brand. In order to keep a glowing reputation as an SME, you need to be listening to your client base and making changes to meet their demands.

Take time to reply to all online feedback

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Just asking for reviews from customers is not enough to keep your reputation glowing. You also need to have a strategy in place to respond to this feedback and take action where necessary. More than half of customers expect a business to respond to a negative review promptly. Not only that, but a massive 97% of online shoppers that read reviews online will also read the business’s responses.

By replying to online feedback, you can help guide the conversation in your favour and maintain your reputation in a way that works for you. If you receive a negative review, then replying to it can give you the opportunity to state your point of view and make amends with the customer. Not only is this great for improving relationships with the clients who do take the time to review, but also helps enhance your reputation among those potential consumers who are reading your reviews online.

Be proactive on social media

For small businesses, social media is such a powerful tool, and you need to be making the most of it. These channels are a completely free way of reaching out to your target audience and carving out a reputation for yourself.

Entrepreneur and author Seth Godin says, “‘Build it, and they will come’” only works in the movies. Social media is a “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.” If you create all the right social channels for your customers but leaving big gaps in between your posts and comment responses, your customers are going to look for brands that are more on the ball. Social media is an everyday part of peoples’ lives and if you’re not making an effort to keep in touch, your followers will quickly realise they need to take their business elsewhere.

Make sure you are regularly posting on social media and keeping your customers engaged with your brand. Responding to online comments and adopting social listening strategies in order to see what people are saying about you is critical for your reputation. Just because a customer isn’t tagging you or messaging you directly, does not mean they aren’t talking about you online. Even these anonymous comments will impact your reputation, so managing them appropriately is crucial.

It’s also important to keep on top of new forms of social media that are just emerging. Platforms like TikTok might still feel quite new, but they have established followers and many brands have already migrated their content across to stay current for a younger audience. Keep tabs on other new channels so you can always be on hand to speak with your customers, no matter where they choose to create their profiles.

As an SME, keeping your reputation glowing is critical for success. It can be the difference between a customer choosing your brand over your competitors and could help your company grow and improve over time. Managing your reputation doesn’t have to be a costly or difficult experience, but it will require some dedication, time, and resources.

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