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When local business owners discuss online reputation management, fear is often the overwhelming emotion communicated.

Fear about what our customers might say online about our business, fear masses of people will see a negative review and immediately launch a county-wide boycott of our services, or maybe just fear that we’re going to be found out – maybe we’ve been faking it with hopes of making it all this time.

Whatever our fear is about eliciting, collecting, and broadcasting digital word of mouth about our local businesses, one thing is certain; that fear can be paralyzing.

Our hopes with this post is to examine the fear we experience as local business owners, with regards to protecting and benefitting from our online reputation.

In this age of digital social connectivity it is of the utmost importance for us as local business owners to actively engage our customers. We need to welcome feedback, ask for assistance, and reward loyalty.

We need to be part of the conversation or we are missing a grand opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of our local communities.

Fear (noun) – a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

Why Fear?

When it comes to our local online reputation, a lot of Carlsbad businesses are totally clueless on what the ‘Internet’ says about them. A lot of business owners dismiss the ‘Internet’ as a waste of money, or think they deal in the real world with people actually walking through their doors.

What these woefully unprepared business owners don’t realize is this; although people are definitely walking through the door, they’re also talking to each other online about your business. And the more business owners ignore the online aspect of their business – even if they sell nothing online per se – the fewer customers they’ll see.

Customers today really have the upper hand, they wield the power – and that’s the way it should be in free enterprise system!

What do we want, the corporations telling us what’s cool, what’s hot, what’s not…? (Don’t worry they’ll continue to do so)

We need not fear a customer broadcasting their innermost consumer experience to the masses. We need to welcome the digital social chatter, but that’s not all.

Fear should not be the underlying reason for us as business owners to not openly and effectively communicate with our customers. If bad word of mouth is what we fear, and that fear is preventing us from participating in the conversation, we’re not only doing ourselves a disservice, we’re also being unfair to our local community.

We’re also probably losing money and customers due to the factors responsible for triggering such frightening thoughts.

The people have a right to know what their consumer experience will be like when they choose your business, and whether you fear it or not they will go talk about it online.

To fear the online review is like fearing our own mortality…we can’t get away from it, and it will happen.

Now do we want to be able to put our socks on each day or would we rather remain a shut-in and stew on the inevitable.

You see, if we did that we’d miss out on life!

And if we continue to fear the online review, our local Carlsbad businesses will wither away and die.

Our customers will chat away on Facebook, yip on Yelp, or proselytize on Angieslist. We no longer have a choice, the paradigm has shifted.

How is your local Carlsbad business dealing with this shift toward digital word of mouth?


Disclaimer: This post was originally published on  July 18, we are re-posting now due to recent website issues.