Online communities drive the web, they are the spark which helped create the internet and the engine which continues to power it.
Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email newsletters can provide a good solid foundation for a thriving online community. They give you the opportunity to gain meaningful feedback and receive ideas to help you improve and grow your business.
Just the fact that you ask for a response or reply to a question posed by one of your customers online, will have a massive impact on the way your company is perceived and its reputation as a whole.
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It is fair to say, if you’re not constantly monitoring and improving your company’s online reputation, you could be sending potential customers to competitors. Although you can’t control what others say about your brand online, you can manage how your business comes across on the internet with a few helpful tools, tips and tricks.
Start by simply searching for your company’s name – and the names of your products and services – on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and see what types of information come up. Search using the exact title of your business, along with common misspellings of it. You’ll also want to run an image search using your company’s name.
In an ideal world, your business’s actual website, along with some favourable, accurate news and reviews, should dominate the majority of the first page of search engine results.
To find out when your company has been mentioned online all you have to do is create a Google Alert. These are free, real-time emails that are sent to your email address automatically. You can set up multiple keyword-based alerts to notify you when relevant new web content is published about your products, services and events and those of your competitors.
It’s just as crucial to monitor your competitors’ online reputations just as much as your own. And remember, your company’s website is your first line of defence when it comes to your online reputation. Does it contain compelling brand messaging that clearly demonstrates what your company does?
More importantly, does your company’s website URL directly mirror your actual business name? If not, you should immediately acquire an exact match domain name, so consumers can easily, quickly find you online.
Word-of-review is now more powerful than word-of-mouth, so it’s critical to analyse and understand what people are saying about your company on review sites that are relevant to your specific line of business.
Use your online community spaces to share good stuff about your business too. This could be reviews of your products, pictures that people post of them or videos where people are enjoying what you create.