Reputation management is critical. Did you know that 90% of potential customers read online reviews before visiting a business? And 67.7% of consumers report that positive or negative reviews impact their purchase decision.
Some might say there is no such thing as bad press, but if the majority of your potential customers choose to shop with your competitors after reading negative content, you’re the one who suffers.
Shaking a bad company reputation may seem challenging, but brand reputation management is possible. In this guide, I’ll outline everything small businesses and enterprise companies need to know about protecting your brand’s image.
What is reputation management?
The definition of reputation management is the practice of owning and influencing public perceptions of your digital reputation. Originating in the PR world, brand management has infiltrated the online world, broadening through advertising, social media accounts, news articles, and Google search results.
In today’s world, published media isn’t the only avenue to sway public opinion. Brand awareness is everywhere, from reviews to social media site mentions of your brand. A bad reputation might seem inevitable, making managing reputation is essential for a brand or person.
Why is reputation management important?
Building your reputation is vital for all companies, from small to medium businesses to larger enterprises. Small business owners need to get their name on the map to generate leads and improve their conversion rate. Positive reputations could mean the difference between success and failure.
Larger enterprises want to maintain their market corner and beat the competition. Reputation management is crucial for building trust and encouraging digital customer loyalty. A positive brand can improve investor relations necessary to grow a business.
The key elements of a reputation management plan
Creating a reputation management strategy is key to managing your brand perception in the public sphere. Your business should have reputation management campaigns to proactively and responsively manage corporate communications and digital marketing.
From understanding the customer journey to content creation, here are the critical elements of a reputation management plan.
As your business grows, you will inevitably see negative comments here and there. Depending on the size of your business, reviews can significantly impact your business profile. As mentioned, many potential customers read reviews before making purchasing decisions.
You should monitor major review platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Also, consider industry-specific review websites, such as Tripadvisor, for hotels and holidays. Reputation monitoring on these and other review sites is essential to maintaining and managing your online reputation.
Reading customer feedback is just the first step. You also need to respond to build a positive online presence. You should always respond to all reviews — both positive and negative ones. Interacting with satisfied customers benefits your brand identity by encouraging customers’ brand loyalty.
Regarding negative reviews, remember that you’re not just responding to one customer; your response will be read by future customers and impact prospective customer experiences.
Brand monitoring your presence on social media is vital. Look at what your target audiences have to say about you, including mentions and shared media. All businesses must have a social media account in the 21st century. However, social media marketing can be a minefield; it’s far easier to get it wrong than right.
However, monitoring social channels can help you better understand your targeted audience to inform and improve your marketing strategy.
Monitor brand mentions
A brand mention can occur anywhere online, from blogs to forums and can shape public perception. With so much online activity, tracking brand-related mentions is an integral part of a comprehensive reputation management strategy.
Brand monitoring will ensure you keep track of positive experiences, negative results, and information about your industry and competitors.
Staying ahead of the competition is vital but complex in the sheer magnitude of web content. Monitoring your competition will reveal how your business weighs up. You can also use reputation management tools to analyse your competitor’s business ideas and strategies.
How do I monitor my reputation?
The internet is a vast space. Crawling through site after site and news article after article for your brand names is impossible. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Many reputation management software platforms are available to improve your online reputation.
The monitoring tools below will help businesses manage their social media presence to reputational risks.
Podium helps local businesses organise marketing campaigns, encourage positive feedback and improve responses to customer queries.
Birdeye is an all-in-one PR account management platform for businesses to build their reputation score and encourage positive online brand mentions. The platform provides customer insights to inform content marketing strategies.
Reputation improves customer experiences by translating feedback into valuable data for improving your reputation. Target your brand reputation goals with this CRM software.
The Yext platform helps organisations answer customer questions. Yext collects and organises content into a knowledge graph to help businesses deliver a relevant knowledge base.
G2 Marketing Solutions
G2 Marketing Solutions helps businesses manage everything from social media platforms to sales funnels. The software allows you to collect reviews, leverage data to improve customer loyalty and integrates with various tech stacks such as Salesforce. LeanData and SalesLoft.
How to protect your brand online?
Every business needs solid online reputation management strategies to navigate the online business world. Your ORM strategy should detail the steps to improve customer relations and a crisis management plan for the worst-case scenario.
A business’ effective online reputation management strategic plan should be ongoing. It’s not about ticking boxes; it’s an endless blueprint to protect your brand’s online reputation.
1. Know what is out there
As we outlined above, you need to know what is out there. The world of online content is vast. You need to pay attention to what people are saying about your business.
Seek out different types of conversations, as all feedback is valuable, including positive and negative online comments. Use the earlier tools to find feedback on social media platforms and review websites. You can set up a Google alerts notification for your brand name and other industry keywords to access relevant news daily.
SPF brand Black Girl Sunscreen is always on the lookout for conversations related to its products. Using social listening, the brand can chime in on a relevant question — despite not being tagged — and introduce itself to a potential customer.
2. Create a brand management plan
Once you know the overall reputation online, you need to focus on a strategy to improve and maintain it. Known as an online reputation management ORM plan, your online reputation managers will employ practices to improve people’s experiences when interacting with your business.
Your plan should address the following:
- A consistent tone of voice for positive and negative responses.
- Who will manage online conversations and social media profiles?
- How do you decide which comments, reviews, or mentions need a response?
Designate specific people to conduct continuous research and monitor brand mentions. Those in marketing or sales roles are likely already equipped to deal with customers. Most comments divulge real interactions and experiences with your brand. However, if you spot a fake review, don’t respond. Instead, you can remove it from Google.
Depending on the size of your brand, it’s not always possible to respond to every single review. Therefore, you should strategise how you can prioritise them. For instance, you may respond to customer questions first or create a specific set of circumstances to dictate when you respond.
Business responses should be consistent and positive. Respond to both good and bad feedback in a helpful, polite tone that shows the customer you have taken their comment on board.
3. Take action with comments, feedback, and reviews
At the heart of PR is spinning the online conversation to reflect well on you. Not all businesses can be perfect 100% of the time. Therefore, you’ll need to develop a strategy to respond to negative feedback. Paying attention to criticism is vital. Turn poor reviews into actionable areas for improvement and innovation.
Home Depot’s response to this negative review is a great example all brands should emulate. Instead of hiding the comment, the customer service team thanked the customer for the feedback and apologised for the experience. The company also invited the customer to contact them and provide more details.
Taking the conversation out of a review thread will allow you to gather more information about the incident and repair the relationship.
Pro-tip: When possible, resolve matters privately and keep the details to yourself. If a public statement becomes necessary, keep it brief.
This example by a fine dining restaurant in the Philippines proves that explaining too much after receiving a negative review may backfire. With the entirety of social media weighing in, many felt like the restaurant owners were trying to deflect blame.
If you want to remove negative feedback, encourage customers to leave a review. Most of the time, only dissatisfied customers will leave a review. However, ask all your customers to leave feedback for a more balanced scorecard.
4. Promote positive aspects
Good reputations attract more customers. While you cannot always help poor reviews (and you should listen to the ones you get), you might wish to push down negative feedback so potential customers can see success stories.
Many brands post positive reviews as part of their content marketing strategy on social media. It’s not only an effortless way to fill up your calendar but also a strategic technique to promote your products.
Popular athletic wear company Outdoor Voices (@outdoorvoices) regularly uses product reviews as part of its Instagram social calendar. Seeing reviews on social media can be the additional nudge your customer needs to proceed with the purchase.
Many marketing strategies promote online information, from paid media to a sponsored partner program with another brand that reflects your values.
Be open, honest, and transparent about who you are as a business and what you believe in. Transparency is more important than ever in a world where information flows freely.
5. Search engine optimisation (SEO)
SEO strategies are vital for all aspects of marketing. You can use search engine optimisation to boost positive google results and push down negative search results through link building, digital PR, and content creation.
6. Tap into potential trends
Once you have responded to negative feedback and boosted your brand’s online reputation with SEO, you need to continue to spread your business values. Managing reputations online doesn’t start and end with a negative review. It would help if you constantly worked to build a positive reputation for your personal branding.
Forecast social media trends and take action to encourage positive reviews over time proactively. With continuous PR, one poor review will have far less damage.
Big tech companies try to boost their reputation through employer branding on trending social media apps like TikTok.
For instance, Canva encourages its employees to share “day in the Life” videos accompanied by the hashtag #canvalife. Giving the public a virtual tour around their office and attaching faces and names to Canva humanizes the brand and encourages positive engagement. The hashtag has over 13 million views to date.
Reputation management originated with public relations. Today, it refers to managing, maintaining, and improving a business’s online reputation. Online marketing is a way to manage your business’s reputation. Examples of reputation protection include:
- Responding to customer reviews.
- Social networking.
- Search engine optimisation.
- Promoting positive content.
Managing your reputation can help businesses grow and thrive. Promoting a positive brand image can outrank negative content to boost sales, enhance reputation recovery, improve visibility, build trust, and generate good business insights. At the end of the day, you want to impress your customers.
Frequently asked questions
How do I create a reputation management plan?
Research what people say about your company online. Use positive and negative feedback to create actionable insights.
- What are you doing well?
- Where could you improve?
- Which areas have gaps?
Put steps into place to improve your reputation with positive content, utilising SEO and social networks. Speak to a reputation management company about your PR plan.
What is reputation management in social media?
Social media is a challenging landscape for businesses to navigate. Reputation management planning involves:
- Responding to negative comments.
- Engaging with like-minded platforms.
- Creating a positive brand image.
Controlling and influencing the audience’s perception through social Media requires careful planning and strategising.
How to improve social media reputation?
Create a plan to improve your social media reputation that considers tone of voice, brand values, and consistency. Ensure you know who responds to comments and when, and create a crisis management plan for emergencies.
Founder of Earned Media. Nick specialises in SEO and he has been working in the industry for over 12 years. He is a recurring digital marketing expert guest on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7 network TV. Nick is a member of the Entrepreneur Leadership Network and regularly contributes to many top business publications. Nick has also guest lectured on SEO and content marketing at the University of Technology Sydney.