Top of Mind: Managing Your Online Reputation

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration hosted Google+ Hangouts with experts to discuss topics relevant to entrepreneurs and small business owners. In this installment on managing your online reputation, SUCCESS’ very own contributing editor and GrowBiz Media CEO Rieva Lesonsky acted as moderator.

1. Set Aside Time

“The key is to not get overwhelmed. Set aside time every day for [managing your online reputation]. Don’t think of this as just something else on your plate. View it as something I’m going to budget some time for, to take care of for initial groundwork. And then later, spend more time reaching out to your customers on niche properties that cater more to where your customers are searching for you.”

―Chad Buechler, Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, Director of Product

2. Get Involved in the Conversation

“Consumers value a business owner’s social presence even more than they value the info on that business owner’s website. It’s a more personal experience and shows the person behind that business. Be there and get involved in that conversation.”

―Kristy Campbell,, VP of Marketing

3. Understand Social Media Niches

“Different sites are used for different purposes and they have different audiences. Moreso than just calling out specific platforms, small businesses should take a minute to step back and think about who they’re targeting. Facebook, Twitter, OpenSky, LinkedIn, Google+―we all have different niches that we’re serving. It’s important to understand those niches and prioritize them.”

―Lana Khavinson, LinkedIn, Senior Product Marketing Manager

4. Make Your Site Friendly to Mobile Devices

“You might want to test what your website looks like on a smaller device. Think about how you might make it easier for your visitors to navigate with their thumbs on a smartphone, for example. Three out of four customers have said that they’ve contacted a business they found on their phones.”

―Soo Young Kim, Google, Head for Marketing for Get Your Business Online Initiative

5. Look at Overall Trends, Not Just the Negative

“Of the distribution of reviews on Yelp, 79% of those are 3 stars or higher. A lot of business owners tend to focus on their negative reviews, whereas consumers are looking at overall trends and what the majority of people are saying and using that information to make a buying decisions. If you have a few negative reviews, it’s not the end of the world. You can’t please with 100% of the people you deal with, 100% of the time.”

―Darnell Holloway, Yelp, Business Outreach

6. Represent Your Business

“It’s really important to think of yourself as a representative or the actual face of your business and become someone who is a thought leader, sharing insights and information, and not to be scared. It’s so much better to be proactive and part of the conversation, versus letting others set the narrative for you.”

―Lana Khavinson, LinkedIn, Senior Product Marketing Manager

7. Support Other Small Businesses

“[We] get to vote with our dollars. Personally, I spend my money at small businesses. I choose to, in my small way, buy from the local florist or support the local diner, and not the fast food chain. There are 30 million small businesses in America, and 74% of Americans work for a company with five or fewer employees. We can help our neighbors by supporting one another, by buying from one another. That’s something important to keep in mind when we don’t have our ‘run-a-company’ hats on, when we’re out in the world as consumers.”

―John Caplan, OpenSky, Founder and CEO

Want more? Check out another “Top of Mind” Small Business Week Google+ Hangout on


Jennifer Chang is the former associate editor for SUCCESS. She has a corgi puppy who has more Instagram followers than a dog should have. Tweet or follow her thoughts and favorite links at @jenzchang.

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