First impressions matter, and in today's society, the majority of first impressions are made on a computer screen. Every animal shelter organization aspires to have a strong brand, which is why Online Reputation Management (ORM) is so important. ORM is the process by which an organization handles the (sometimes unpleasant) digital intersection of customer service and marketing, such as online reviews and customer feedback, review outreach, and search engine utilization - all of which are key critical components of brand building. So, how does this affect shelters? Well-practiced ORM brings in new adopters, more donations, and moves pets through the shelter faster - all for free.
With the never-ending list of tasks that come with running a shelter, it's easy to overlook ORM, but you can’t afford to: your organization’s mission and impact depend on first impressions, which often come from online reviews. Here are five quick tips to help you get started with ORM:
1. Start by Claiming your Google My Business page
What does Google My Business (GMB) do?
GMB gives you control as the owner on updates and information (hours, location, photos), reviews and questions.
How do I claim my account?
If you are a new listing, you will have to answer several general questions about your organization, including location, hours, and what kind of organization you are.
If you already have a listing, it will need to be verified under your name so you can have full access. And if you don’t know who owns the account or if you need to change the owner, you can report the issue to Google and they will fix it
2. Respond to ALL Reviews and answer questions about your business
This is where it gets tricky. As an adoption center, great reviews are great! Helpful reviews are even better! But when it comes to negative comments, the water can get a little muddy. Here are some tips for how to navigate responding to comments.
Use the 24-hour rule: Try not waiting any longer than 24 hours to respond, or at least let the reviewer know that you have read the comment and will fill them in with more information soon!
Always thank them for their comments and feedback
If you get a negative review.....
1. Be positive
2. Be direct
3. Be helpful
3. Build an ORM Routine
Set aside 10 minutes a day to check your platforms. It is important to stay current and updated with your review response because it shows the public that you are responsive and solutions-oriented, which are hallmarks of great customer service.
4. Sign Up For Google Alerts
Google Alerts are real-time email notifications that help you keep track of mentions of your shelter and its employees, alerting you of content and conversations happening online. To start, head over to Google Alerts and start typing in keywords for which you want to be alerted. We recommend setting up notifications for your shelter, area + "animal shelter," your shelter director’s name, and other shelters in your region (just to see how they’re doing!).
5. Remember Your Purpose
With social media, and the never-ending to-do list, it is easy to take public, online feedback personally. Remember the incredible mission of your organization and your impact on animals. Reviews are meant for sharing feedback and helping you improve as an organization: don’t take it personally, but take it seriously.