Despite 75% of small businesses recognising the importance of having a good reputation online, 40% never look at how their company is rated on the web
Given that the vast proportion of our existence is now mediated through the internet, the way we are perceived online can have massive consequences for our analogue lives. But it seems some businesses are rather blasé about how they are perceived on the world wide web. Research has revealed that whilst over three quarters of SMEs consider having a good online reputation as important, two fifths never check online reviews of their business.
According to Zurich’s SME Risk Index, 15% of SMEs have been on the receiving end of negative comments online, which range from critical reviews, malicious content from rivals or negative press coverage. But whilst businesses might not always be great at checking their rep online, 41% believe that having a good image online will become more important to their company by this time next year.
Taking this into account, it seems more and more small businesses are attempting to take responsibility for the way they’re perceived online. Almost one in ten currently pay someone to manage their online reputation, whilst the same proportion again intend to hire in this position over the next 12 months. And some companies are willing to invest a serious amount of capital in ensuring that their online honour isn’t besmirched; according to the SME Risk Index, 12% of businesses that pay a third party to handle their reputation online fork out more than £2,000 a month.
“Online reputation is an increasing worry for SMEs, many of whom are only just getting to grips with managing a social media presence and website, let alone the effects of negative content posted about their company,” said Richard Coleman, managing director of Zurich’s Commercial Broker business. “In a world where the consumer is increasingly guided by the likes of reviews sites such as TripAdvisor and Trustatrader, SMEs need to get to grips with their online presence and how to manage it.”
Evidently spending a bit of time googling yourself isn’t that self-indulgent after all.