5 Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation
5 Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation

You know what you do, so why should you Google your business? Seventy-nine percent of car buyers say using the internet, including social media and review sites, was the most helpful tool when researching a car purchase. If a consumer Googles your business or your industry, what will they find?

To make sure they find you and not some similarly named business, make sure your business information — name, address, etc. — are listed consistently and correctly. Is it “Inc.” or “Incorporated”? “Suite” or “Ste.”? Pick one and go with it. Claim your social sites too. Create your own business profile before someone else does it. Google rewards consistency, and when it gathers information from 325-plus social and directory listings, the more consistent your information is, the higher you’ll rank in search results.

You will notice that, when you Google your business, you’ll see reviews from around the web showcased in the results. That means your “star” ratings from Google, Facebook, Consumer Reports and others could be highlighted for consumers.

With all that in mind, let’s discuss # steps you can take today to define and improve your digital presence.

1. Use Social Sites to Reach Customers.

The first step is claiming the social sites. Set up your business page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Now, start engaging with your consumers. Post content at least three times a week so that, when someone searches for you, they will see that you’re open for business. (Yes, Facebook is a search engine now.) If your last post is from Thanksgiving of 2015, will people think you’re out of business?

Social media is where you can promote your products and services and highlight your offers while also showcasing the values and culture of your company. Your company likely supports many charities — let your community on social know. Remember, every post shouldn’t be a sales pitch.

2. Pay Attention to Your Reputation.

I mentioned earlier that Google showcases reviews from around the web. That’s one pretty important reason to pay attention to your reputation. One other includes the fact that consumers trust reviews from a stranger more than they trust what you say about your own business. If you have no reviews, what will customers think? Nothing bad written about you, but nothing good either.

You have your customers’ contact information. Use it. Send them a brief, three- or four-question survey asking them about their experience with you and if they’d recommend you to a friend. Give the customers who respond positively the opportunity to post their feedback on public review sites, and make it easy for them to do so.

Include links to the sites and seamless integrations when possible. New, positive reviews will push down any negative reviews. You can even text review requests to your happy customers making it easy to get feedback from today’s mobile customers.

Paying attention to your reputation includes monitoring social and review sites for new reviews and responding to the good and the bad ones quickly. When you get a bad review, have a strategy in your response. Don’t make offers of compensation or restitution and don’t get into an argument online. Even if you’re right, you’ll look defensive to others who read it.

Simply acknowledge the response and take the conversation offline by offering the phone number of the highest level of contact. Don’t resolve the issue over email. Don’t give all your attention to the bad reviews either. Make sure you thank the happy customers for their positive reviews.

It’s important to note that there are a lot of partnerships in the review space. Yelp partners with Apple, which means if someone searches for directions to your business on their iPhone, your Yelp rating will show.

You also need to know each site’s terms and conditions. They all have rules for what can and can’t be posted, but none do a good job policing the content. Notify the sites when a review violates the “Ts and Cs,” and be persistent. Sometimes it takes several tries for a review to be removed.

3. Target Social Ads and Increase ROI.

In my 20 years in marketing, I’ve never seen an advertising medium that is more targeted, easier to measure, and more cost-effective than social advertising. The amount of data Facebook collects about its users is amazing — even a little frightening. But all this data is available to advertisers.

You can match your database of customers to Facebook profiles and even people similar to your customers, then place an ad in their newsfeed. Facebook also uses Polk data of car purchases and lease transactions. Put your ad in front of people whose leases are about to expire or who are driving older cars and likely in the market to buy again. Don’t let the first time someone hears about your warranty, your accessories or your extra coverage be when they are in the F&I office. Educate them beforehand.

If you know dealers in a specific area are having a sales special, target your ads to people in the same location. You can also retarget consumers who have visited your website. Place a Facebook pixel on your website and place an ad in the Facebook newsfeeds of people who’ve visited. You can help them along the sales funnel by staying top-of-mind.

Remember to monitor your ads for comments and questions. Facebook is an interactive platform, so your customers expect a response if they comment on your ad. These won’t show in your regular newsfeed, so before you start advertising, have a plan to check for comments and questions from your customers.

4. Track Your Results.

Facebook is made for marketers who love data like I do! You can see how many people saw your ad, how many people interacted with it (by liking, sharing or commenting) and how many people clicked on your ad. Cost per click is typically $2 or less — much cheaper than Google PPC and traditional advertising.

Offline conversions help you track results and sales by using your list of customers and matching them to Facebook profiles. By doing this, even if someone didn’t fully transact through the ad, you’ll know if they saw it.

5. Remember the Dos and Don’ts.

Have a social media policy in place for your company. This should be included in your employee handbook, outlining how employees can post about your company and who can post to your pages. You don’t want your company to suffer because of an ill-timed comment or inappropriate joke.

Don’t auto-boost your posts on Facebook. This is just a waste of money. The targeting isn’t as precise as you would want it to be and sometimes the posts aren’t worth boosting — even if Facebook suggests to you that they are.

We can’t forget Twitter. While many of us are “meh” about it, the people who use it are rabid fans. Search the site for terms that matter to you, e.g. “buying a car” or “car shopping.” It’s the perfect time to jump into the conversation and let the tweeter know about your products and services and even which dealerships you work with. It’s not weird. In social media, this interaction is expected.