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Red For Sale Sign on LaptopEditor’s Note: This is the sixth of a seven-part series from Homes.com on how to manage your online reputation. Homes.com has put together a free playbook on the topic, which can be downloaded here. Watch for this series in RISMedia’s Friday Weekly Business Builder e-newsletter.

When attempting to manage your online reputation, it’s important to get ahead in the game by being proactive. You do this a number of ways: asking clients to post positive reviews, responding to negative comments about your business in a quick and effective way, creating a reputation management team, and putting together an online reputation policy.

Utilizing Satisfied Clients

By asking your past satisfied clients for testimonials and positive reviews on sites we have previously mentioned, like Yelp and CitySearch, you build an arsenal of good to combat any bad. You can even offer incentives, like gift cards or discounts, for any positive reviews your clients post. Promote those links on any marketing materials you have to make sure you’re setting your best foot forward.

Responding to Negative Comments

While it may feel good to slap a knee-jerk, emotion-driven reply on top of a negative comment about you, that’s not going to help your brand. When tackling negative feedback online, you’ve got to approach it in a delicate way. Never respond while you’re angry, be authentic and empathetic, and never put the blame on the customer.

Creating a Reputation Management Team

The more people you’ve got looking out for you and your business’s reputation, the better. Look no further than your dedicated employees. When assembling your team, choose a handful of key players representing different departments (social media, risk management, human resources) that have ownership of the brand. Don’t forget to recruit a team leader – or quarterback, if you will – to take the reins!

Implementing an Online Reputation Policy

To avoid any missteps, it’s important to put together a corporate policy on your social media participation and online reputation management. Define the rules of engagement, and your comment and review guidelines, to be followed to help guide your business’s response to threats. Being prepared before crises arise is crucial to reputation management.

For more information on how you can promote and protect your brand online, including more tips on how to properly respond to negative comments online and direct your reputation management team, download our free eBook here.

Erica Campbell Byrum is the Director of Social Media for Homes.com.

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