If you own a small business, you’ve probably got a hundred more important things to do than taking time to do a Google search on yourself, but this short post tells you why you should make time occasionally to check out who is saying what about you online.

Monitoring your online reputation — what customers are saying about your business online is an essential part to growing your business. Why? Because you need to see yourself as others do. If you are just getting started, there might not be a great deal of chatter out there, on the other hand if you have done a good job of launching your business people may well be discussing your product or service.

As you no doubt already know, consumers are researching companies before they do business with them. They look for prices, they look for information and they look for recommendations.

Potential customers will be far more likely to do business with you if they find positive reviews from others that have already worked with or purchased from you.

And it’s not just customers who may be checking you out online. If you are looking for funding you can bet your bottom dollar potential investors will look at your reputation and what customers are saying about you.

If you are recruiting it’s common practice for job seekers to look for positive and negative comments about what it’s like to work at your company.

Here’s few tips for monitoring what people are saying about you online.

Set up a Google alert. 

You can set up a Google Alert to notify you anytime someone publishes an article or review with keywords related to your company, including names, products and your own name.

Monitor Social Media

Facebook and Twitter are often the first place people go to rave about a product or service, but unfortunately they may take to social media to complain. It’s no coincidence that all major companies have staff who monitor tweets and Facebook posts in order to keep complaints from escalating.

Using a social media aggregator like Hootsuite can help you keep tabs on your social media streams.

Monitor comments on your blog posts

If you blog regularly about your industry, you may well be attracting readers who have an opinion on what you have to say, that’s the aim right?  Make sure you set your blogging platform to either inform you when a comment is posted or have you authorise comments before they go live. Don’t immediately delete negative comments. Often you’ll do yourself more harm than good. A good reasoned reply or discussion can show you care about your customers.

Pay Attention to customer reviews on Google+ and Yelp etc
We recommend to all our clients that they have reviews or testimonial section on their website. Reviews are a great way to turn browsers into paying customers. You should, however, take time to monitor all the review sites (your Google alerts, mentioned earlier, should tell where customers are posting). Make sure you reply in a reasoned manner to any negative review you may have. Don’t wait to reply, a timely reply will have greater weight with your customer. If you made a mistake, own up to it and find a way to compensate them.

While it might not be the most exciting thing you will do with your day, making sure your online reputation is a bit apart of growing your business online.

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