Leslie Park Lynn is a 15 year restaurant industry veteran.
How potential customers view your restaurant brand online can make or break their decision to do business with you. When people are talking about you online you need to know about it and monitor what they are saying. Online reputation management is one of the most important management tasks in any business but especially for restaurants. Personal recommendations or word of mouth is what most people turn to when making a decision to visit a new restaurant. And, with the reach of the internet, taking care of your online reputation has never been more critical.
Online reputation management centers on three primary goals: building your brand, protecting your brand and repairing your brand when necessary. It’s a big a job and not any easy one. So how is a busy restaurant operator supposed accomplish all that and run the restaurant too? Technology.
Today there are a whole host of online reputation management technologies to choose from. While basic services are pretty similar, there are some that offer super sophisticated tools to give you a view into what’s being said about you and into the health of your overall presence online. Choosing one that’s right for you is simply a function of comparing features and costs and deciding how in-depth you want to go.
Building and Protecting Your Brand
Content creation and promotion helps to put your restaurant in the best light possible when you appear in search results on search engines such as Google. This helps to push down any negative content that may be out there and helps build a good reputation on top of it. The goal is to fill the first page with positive brand information and send anything negative to pages 2 and 3 where people seldom look. Working to improve Google auto-complete is also part of that strategy. Auto-completes are the suggested search terms that Google shows you as you begin typing in a search phrase. Some of the more sophisticated online reputation management companies such as Go Fish Digital, have developed ways to rebuild auto-completes and keep negative ones out. Also, building and maintaining a good, positive and accurate page on Wikipedia is a great strategy since Wikipedia consistently ranks high in search results.
Working to improve reviews on sites such as Yelp and others is an important part of protecting your brand. Many don’t know that review sites will sometimes filter out good reviews if they question the authenticity of them. On the flip side bad reviews can be challenged if they do not meet all the guidelines set out by the review site. Online reputation management companies have gotten good at working with review sites to minimize the bad reviews and promote the good ones. As a restaurant, these may be some of the most important areas for you to manage as a large majority of your potential customers will search for reviews before making a decision to dine with you.
Monitoring Your Brand
Knowing what is being said about you as it happens is a key strategy in protecting your brand. Online reputation management companies have developed software that maintains a vigilant eye on the internet and captures activity in real time allowing you to react and respond quickly. There are few more damaging situations to your online reputation than a bad review that sits unanswered. There are also companies that can measure your level of influence across social media which is a metric closely tied to reputation. With this type of information online reputation management companies can formulate long and short term strategies to protect and grow your brand online. Software such as Hootsuite allows you to consolidate all your social media messaging into one place so it remains consistent and well timed. It has the ability to schedule messages and posts and provides good analytics to help you fine tune your strategy.
It’s A Function of Budget
Whether your budget for online reputation management is large or small there is a solution that’s right for your business. Companies such as Reputology offer very affordable services while bigger companies like RMC, who work with big corporations, can be quite but pricey. But, there are lots of companies to choose from and with a little research you will find one that will accommodate your budget while giving you the features you need.
Today building, monitoring and repairing your online reputation has gotten easier than ever. Make sure you are doing something towards these important goals because in today’s internet driven world what you don’t know can hurt your business in a significant way.