Some Tweet just trashed your security company, or a Facebook post about unreturned calls has people talking, or worse, someone who isn’t even your customer leaves a negative review on Yelp — now what do you do? Today, your online reputation is pivotal in the success of your business. 

No matter the size of your business, customers and even strangers are talking about you on social media. What you do about this is called online reputation management (ORM) and is one of the most neglected and misunderstood aspects of today’s business, marketing and media landscape. 

You can’t afford to ignore ORM; studies show that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and as many as 60 percent of consumers will steer clear of businesses with less than four stars. Businesses risk losing as many as 22 percent of potential customers with one negative review. 

Being proactive about criticism can minimize negative reviews and provide a way to show positive and responsive transparency that leads to increased trust. If you start building a history of responsive online interaction, potential customers can see more than just the complaint. They see your polite resolution, turning a negative into a positive. 

Before you do anything else, you must claim social media sites and domains. At a minimum, register the name of your business on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google, Yahoo Local and Yelp. This is critical when it comes to cultivating an online reputation. 

It is pivotal for security industry organizations to keep track of their social mentions. Fortunately, there are some great tools to help: Google Alerts is a free feature for anyone with a Google Account that monitors the internet for mentions of any topic and notifies you; Mention is a real-time media monitoring tool that will notify you when someone is creating a buzz about your business on social media through text and hashtag mentions; Awario is a social listening tool that gives brands access to insights on their customers, market and competitors. 

A negative review can have many different root causes. It could be that a customer is providing a review for the wrong business. It may be a legitimate customer with a completely resolvable issue. It could also be someone who is not a customer and just posting maliciously. You must know what you are dealing with before you reply. Here are a few more important tips on posting replies.

  •  Never ignore a negative review.
  • Respond to reviews as soon as possible and never let it go beyond a week. 
  • Know as many facts as possible about the problem from your end. 
  • Don’t respond emotionally. Stay professional.
  • Keep responses short since long ones look defensive. 
  • Do not provide details about the issue in your response.
  • Thank them, apologize, strive for greatness and connect. 
  • Do not invite rebuttal. 
  • Take the conversation offline.

If someone comments on one of your Facebook posts, follow up with a reply. When you receive positive reviews, reply to those as well, thanking them for being a customer.

Another way to stay engaged is to regularly post positive and helpful security-related information. Be selective in what you post, though, because every post lives forever on the Internet, and posts could come back to haunt you. It is also helpful to follow other businesses and positively comment on their content. 

Almost every business will get a negative online review every once in a while. Some customers truly cannot be pleased, and most know that and will forgive you for the occasional negative review. If you are engaged online, not only is it not the end of your business, it’s an opportunity.