Why businesses in Zimbabwe must claim their online listings

Last month we came across a tweet with a screenshot of a smartphone map app where the LongCheng Plaza in Belvedere’s online listing was marked as Zhing Zhong! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term Zhing Zhong, it isn’t exactly politically correct. If you do a search for the term, what comes up is the following:

“cheap, fake or sub-standard products of Asian origin. These kind of products are mainly rejects from mass production in China that are dumped on struggling markets.”

As far as LongCheng goes, having that listed as their name wasn’t really the best look. Any business or brand that wants to uphold a certain reputation and get the right message across would not want to misrepresented in any way shape of form. Fortunately, in this particular case, the listing was corrected and they were able to save face.

Now, imagine a situation where someone sets up an online profile using your business name with a custom url (for example Facebook.com/LivingZimbabwe) and makes it look like an official channel used to engage with customers. Once up and running, they can put up whatever content they like and also communicate with current and potential customers and depending on the nature of the content, they could be doing serious damage.

If the content being put up by someone purporting to be you, it could wreak havoc and see a business spending a lot of time and resources to try and make amends and rebuild their reputation.

So, what can be done to avert such a crisis? If your business or brand doesn’t already have an online presence, it may be time to build one or at a minimum, claim your brand or business name online. This can be a simple as buying a domain name such as a co.zw, .com or any other suitable extension.

Other steps that can and probably should be taken include:

  • Setting up a Google My Business (more so for brick and mortar businesses)

  • Establishing a presence on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and the list goes on

Apart from registering a domain name, the good thing about most of the options listed above is that they are free to set up.

Yes, some may say Zimbabwe is not in that sort of digital space yet. But, the world is becoming increasingly digital and there will be a need to have a presence in this space, not to mention the benefits that come along with it. In a business context, those benefits could include an increase in revenue and brand recognition.

If you have some time on your hands, listen to the podcast below on a discussion about online reviews for local businesses. It may seem very Western-centric rather Americentric and some features may not be available in Zimbabwe but the ideas discussed can be adapted to fit your purposes.

One thing to remember is that claiming your identity on the major networks doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be active on all of them. The need to use them may arise in the future and if this does happen you will not have to worry about having brand consistency across the web.

Are you convinced that you need to take control of your online presence?

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