Admit it. We care about what others think. As a society, we have an innate curiosity about what people are using, where they are going and if they would truthfully recommend something. These opinions can even influence our own actions.

Not convinced? Consider this. Even though it’s almost fall, the thermostat is expected to hit 90 degrees at least a time or two before the crisp autumn weather arrives. But your AC unit has begun making a funny noise. You call your go-to AC guy and he can’t get out for another 3 weeks! Now what are you going to do? In your search for an alternative solution, you turn to Facebook and post “ISO Recommendations” (we love how easy they’ve made it for us!). Your online community gives you several names to consider. You grab your smartphone and check out a couple of websites. While one takes forever to load, the other immediately grabs your attention, with free estimates and a 24-hour guarantee. And when you look them up on Yelp, they have an average rating of 4.4. You make the call and schedule an appointment for the next day. By the weekend you’re sitting comfortable in your cool house, with a new AC guy on speed dial.

Scenarios like this are commonplace today. Word-of-mouth advertising coupled with personal recommendations and online reviews have become a powerful way for businesses to win new customers.

Not surprisingly, the data around the impact of reviews on a business’s livelihood is persuasive:

  • 86% of Internet users read online reviews
  • 91% said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 50% of consumers visit a local business website after reading online reviews
  • 68% of consumers said they are more likely to purchase products or services in-store if there are positive reviews on the company’s website, mobile site or Facebook page

It’s imperative businesses actively develop and maintain their online brand image. After all, sustaining a positive reputation through reviews is no longer a passive business practice – it requires active participation.

Here are 3 tips every business owner should consider when managing their online reputation:

  1. GMB (Google My Business), Facebook and Yelp – create a profile and actively manage them. These three are the biggest players in the online reputation world and must be proactively managed.
  2. The best way to get online reviews is simply to ask for them. Businesses must provide opportunities for customers to leave feedback. Website pop-up asking for a review, link at the bottom of an email message, text message after an appointment – there are countless ways a business can ask for feedback.
  3. Be responsive to all reviews. How a business handles online reviews is just as important as receiving them. Businesses should respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. After all, great responses to positive reviews can help businesses build back trust.

Discover how businesses can maximize their online presence across all of the big review sites. Watch our on-demand webinar, Your 5-Star Guide to Reviews. Our expert panel will discuss the entire journey of an online review, from the first interaction with a customer to the posted response. Vivial will showcase how to create a strategy for receiving new reviews, leaving thoughtful responses and streamlining the entire review process.