Reputation Management 101: Claim Existing Properties
Unclaimed ratings and review site properties are a lot like high school gossip. There's talk about you behind your back. Some of it could be complimentary and positive, based on facts or first hand experiences. But the majority? Let's be honest here, it's the result of people who have an axe to grind. Whether it was because you looked at someone funny, or the fact Jonathan asked you to be his lab partner in Bio class and not Cally, being oblivious to or not confronting these negative remarks won't do you any good. It’s more likely that it will just make it worse.
This is the same for ratings and review sites. While not all social properties, ratings and review sites provide the same value to every industry, until you take the time to see where your business (or businesses) shows up online, you'll never know what's being said about you.
Ignoring comments won't make them go away, it just lets the fire burn. Your best course of action is to claim your listings and confront these reputation tarnishers head on. An unclaimed review site becomes a dumping ground, inviting people to pile on their worst experiences. Not only can you pick up on useful tidbits of data within those reviews, more importantly you can start showing the public that there's a human element behind the account, listening, monitoring and attempting to resolve issues. To new users visiting the site, that is reassuring and shows your brand cares.
A manual approach, going through each network to find your listing(s) can be time consuming. Luckily, tools like GetListed.org can help you find your listings that currently exist, and whether or not they've been claimed. For every review site, you'll follow the same steps more or less. Below, I've boiled down the steps to claiming properties on a few sites to expose you to the process.
Google Places or Google+
- Create a Gmail account which will also serve as a Google+ profile.
- Locate your business: https://plus.google.com/local
- In the 'About' section, select "Manage this Page".
- Follow the phone verification steps.
- Occasionally, Google+ only offers postcard verification. It's a longer process, so be sure whoever is in charge of the mail knows it's coming.
- Create your free Yelp business account. (Note: for efficiency sake, use the Gmail account you've already set up for claiming your Google properties.)
- Upload a profile picture and give yourself one of four position titles: Owner, Manager, Employee or Customer Service.
- Search within Yelp to locate your listings.
- Select the 'Work Here? Claim This Business' link located in the listing details.
- Follow the link and phone verification process.
- If a page has already been created for your business by someone else, report it by clicking on the gear icon adjacent to the 'Like' button, and follow the steps to take it over.
- If the page is unclaimed, it tends to be a little easier. Facebook lays out the process well. You can find all the detailed steps here: Claim Your Facebook Page
YellowPages, CitySearch, Yahoo and Bing all have similar formats and claiming processes. The common elements with these, as with the previous platforms, is to have a dedicated email address in place and to have accurate phone/contact information for verifying.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reputation management. Claiming existing pages, transferring ownership and creating ones where they don't exist are just the start. The added value of doing so comes when your pages are optimized with full details and descriptions (calling SEO enthusiasts). Acquiring more reviews for each property strengthens the effect even further.
There's a lot more left to do after you claimed your listings, but this is just reputation management 101. Finish this course, then move on to the harder tactics. If you have questions, leave them for me in the comments or tweet me at @_pdavis.
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