How are small businesses monitoring their online reputations? By using a mix of digital and human resources to scour social media and Google search mostly.
That fact is among the key findings from a recent report from Clutch. The research was based on data from a survey of 529 owners and managers of small businesses (firms with fewer than 500 employees).
Some 88% of respondents say they monitor their online reputations at least quarterly.
Two-thirds of respondents say they turn to social media to find out what people are saying about their business, and 57% say they check results on Google search. Some 42% of respondents say they monitor their online reputation by checking review sites, such as Yelp.
Why is social media the channel small businesses turn to most? In part, because of its popularity. However, another key factor is the interactive nature of social.
As one small-business owner told Clutch: “The biggest advantage of using social media for reputation management is that we can interact directly with commenters and reviewers, and the public can see our responses.”
Are small businesses manually monitoring their online reputations or using digital tools to do the job?
The researchers found that the answer to that question depends largely on the age of the person in charge.
Millennial respondents (age 18-34) use a balanced mix, with a nearly equal share saying they use both types of resources: 69% say they use digital tools to monitor their business’s online reputation, and 68% say someone does it manually.
Gen X respondents (age 35-54) also use a mix, though they lean more heavily on human resources: 75% say someone monitors their firm’s online reputation manually, 57% say they use digital resources.
Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers (age 55+) are the least likely to use technology to monitor their business’s online reputation: 81% say someone monitors their firm’s online reputation manually, and just 34% say they use digital tools.
The use of both digital and human resources to conduct online reputation monitoring may seem redundant, but it makes sense after diving more deeply into the role that each plays.
The researchers found that digital tools and humans often tackle different parts of online reputation management.
As the researchers put it: “Small businesses that use a combination of human and digital resources to monitor their online reputation tend to use the digital tools to collect information, but still rely on people to analyze the information and act on it.”
A savvy cohort of small businesses—it appears to be around a third of those surveyed—are doing it all: They are monitoring social media, search, and review sites by using a combination of digital and human resources.
Ultimately, this wide-net approach is likely the most effective as it gives firms the most comprehensive view of their reputations while utilizing the strengths of both digital tools and people.
Small businesses (and you!) can keep an eye on their online reputations with Agorapulse’s inbox and monitoring. The inbox captures and gives you options to moderate comments and Facebook Wall posts. And monitoring captures the hashtags and keywords that you want to look out for.