What others say about your brand and product is very important. This is because customers research businesses online before deciding whether to buy.
A recent study found that 98% of consumers used the internet to research local businesses in 2022.
Image via BrightLocal
Whatever they find about your business online can influence their purchase decision. You want to learn the best online reputation management tactics to monitor what others say about your brand and act on their concerns.
It’s easy to believe that reputation management is for large corporations with a dedicated PR team, but that’s not entirely true.
Advancements in technology mean there are more avenues for customers to leave reviews that can harm the reputation of your small business.
This article examines brand reputation management and the strategies you can use to improve your brand image.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Brand Reputation Management?
Every brand has a reputation that precedes it.
As such, brand reputation management monitors how others perceive your brand and takes the necessary steps to maintain a positive brand image.
The practice comes from public relations, where brands use advertising and media coverage to create a positive public image.
But with the growth of digital communication channels, an effective brand reputation management strategy now revolves around monitoring and protecting a brand’s reputation on online platforms.
There’s now more reputational content in public than ever before from sources such as:
- Online review sites
- Search engine results pages
- Social media
- User-generated content
All this information can help or harm a brand, hence the need for brand management to protect your brand online.
This continuous process helps you stay on top of your brand perception and respond to potentially damaging comments.
But online reputation management is not just about erasing negative commentary about your brand. It also involves tracking the positive comments about your brand and using the information to build your brand online.
Why Is Brand Reputation Management Important for Small Businesses?
Many consumers go online to learn more about a business before engaging. The customers could be looking for complaints or positive reviews by past customers about the brand’s product or service.
But that’s not all they are after when looking up a business online. They also want to see how the company responds to customer reviews.
A recent Qualtrics customer experience survey found that 63% of customers want businesses to better listen to customer feedback. Customers want brands to use the reviews and complaints they receive to improve the brand experience.
Image via Qualtrics
It is also evident that brands that respond to customer feedback, both positive and negative, are more likely to attract more customers.
According to BrightLocal, 88% of customers are likely to buy from a business that responds to all the reviews it receives, whether positive or negative.
Image via BrightLocal
As you can see, businesses with a clear reputation management strategy attract more customers than those without it. This helps them manage business spending since they don’t have to spend a lot of resources on advertisement and marketing.
How to Create a Brand Reputation Management Strategy
Now that you know the importance of brand reputation, let’s go over the steps of creating a comprehensive brand reputation management strategy.
Audit Your Brand Reputation
To build a positive online reputation management strategy, you first need to research the internet to find out what people say about your brand.
Are people enjoying your products and sharing rave reviews on social media? Or are they disappointed with your high pricing that doesn’t match the quality of your products?
These are some of the things you want to pay attention to when auditing your brand sentiment online. Focus on all feedback and conversations to properly understand your public perception.
Decide Who Will Monitor Online Conversations
Since brand reputation management is a continuous process, you want to assign the role of monitoring the conversation around your brand to a specific person.
This individual will consistently audit your brand reputation and identify issues that need your attention. If your business lacks the resources to hire a dedicated brand reputation manager, employees with customer-facing roles are good candidates for this position.
To make it easy for the brand reputation manager to monitor online conversations, equip them with the right online reputation management tool.
An Agorapulse alternatives curated list by Attrock highlights the best tools that help to manage your social media presence.
Determine Which Reviews Call for a Response
Some individuals purposefully troll your business with comments instead of sharing legitimate experiences with your brand. They aim to diminish your reputation; you do not need to respond to such comments.
You should anchor your brand reputation management plan on actively responding to genuine feedback from users with real experiences with your brand. This means you need a way to spot and remove fake online reviews that can tarnish your reputation.
Luckily, fake reviews are easy to spot, and you can identify them by doing the following;
- Study the details keenly – The reviewer may share false information that has nothing to do with your business. For example, the user may say they didn’t like a particular feature in your product, yet your product doesn’t contain the mentioned feature.
- Look for complex words in the review – To sound genuine, the fake reviewer may use complex words to describe their issue with your products. The extra effort indicates the reviewer is trying hard to create a believable story.
- Check the name and avatar of the reviewer – Fake reviewers often hide their real identities when sharing false information online. When you come across such a review, immediately report it so it can be taken down.
Develop a Tone for Engagement
Lastly, you want to develop a brand voice to use when responding to feedback. For example, you can remain positive even when dealing with negative feedback and criticism from users.
Once you develop your tone, train everyone in the organization to use it when responding to feedback. This will ensure there’s uniformity in the way to engage online users.
Where Should You Focus Your Brand Reputation Management Efforts?
Now that you know the importance of brand reputation management, you’re probably wondering where to direct your efforts.
Ideally, you want to concentrate on the avenues where positive and negative influences about your brand can spread. These include:
A lot of information appears when someone searches for your business online. This could be information about your products, your business opening hours, positive reviews, and customer complaints.
This information can build or ruin your reputation. That’s why you must actively monitor popular search engines to see what appears when people search for your business.
People are talking about your brand on social media channels, whether you are active on those platforms or not. They could be sharing their wonderful experience with your brand or complaining about the negative experience with your customer service reps.
Either way, you want to use social listening to stay on top of your online mentions to understand what people feel about your brand across social media platforms.
To do this, you should use social media management tools that allow you to listen in on conversations about your brand even when users don’t tag your brand.
For example, Sprout Social’s social listening feature can help you tell if your brand’s perception is positive or negative based on the posts and comments of social media users.
Image via Sprout Social
Your brand is also getting a lot of mentions on review sites. Customers frequent these sites to learn about brands before working with them.
As such, you want to actively monitor your online reputation on these platforms to discover what others say about your brand.
G2 is a review site for business software and services. The site publishes verified reviews from users of digital tools such as Notion. The example below shows a negative review that one of Notion’s users shared.
The client didn’t appreciate Notion blocking their recruitment pages without notice, and he gave a detailed negative online review sharing his frustration with the brand.
Image via G2
Through its brand reputation management platform, Notion could track and respond to this review. In the response, the brand mentions it has already resolved everything with the client’s team.
Though the brand took a hit with the negative review, publicly responding to the complaint helped them save face with potential clients. The response shows that the brand proactively deals with customer issues to ensure a superior user experience.
Forums like Reddit also serve as avenues for customers to share their experiences with brands. The platforms are a hit with users because they allow them to share their thoughts anonymously.
An active presence on these platforms is crucial for your brand reputation management as it will enable you to listen to discussions about your brand. You’ll then use what you’ve gathered from the discussions to improve your products and services.
1. Why is brand reputation important?
Brand reputation management is monitoring how others perceive your brand and taking the necessary steps to manage your online reputation.
2. Why is brand reputation management important for small businesses?
Brand reputation management is critical to small businesses because it helps maintain a positive brand reputation that drives sales and builds brand loyalty.
3. Where should you focus your brand reputation management efforts?
When managing your reputation, you want to concentrate on the avenues where positive and negative influences about your brand can spread. These include:
- Search engines
- Social media
- Review sites
- Online forums
Customers are talking about your brand online, and whatever they are saying can build or harm your brand reputation.
Brand reputation management services empower you to take ownership of the spaces where people are talking about your brand so you can address any pressing issues and build brand loyalty.
Timely responses to negative reviews, complaints, and false accusations will help you deal with problems that can ruin the excellent brand reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.