Online reputation is a concept we often use, but without really knowing how to take control of it, as it is impacted by so many factors, from a brand's activity on social networks to the interactions with readers, users, etc.
When we hear the word 'reputation', we immediately think of something positive, rather than something negative. Or is it the other way around? When you hear about a brand’s online reputation what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
To remove any ambiguity, let’s focus on understanding online reputation first.
- What Is Online Reputation?
- Why Is Online Reputation Important?
- How to Manage Online Reputation
- Online Reputation Tools
Let's jump straight to the action!
1. What Is Online Reputation?
Online reputation is the image that a brand, product or service has on the internet (web and digital platforms).
The online reputation is impacted by the inside information the brand shares as well as by users’ interaction.
Often time, customer reviews, news and facts about the brand weigh more than what the brand communicates and promotes.
There is also online misinformation, and it can be easily widespread all over the internet. It is important to stay ahead and be informed of what people say about your brand. If you actively monitor your brand mentions, you can manage your online reputation easily, since you are aware of what’s said about your brand.
Your brand reputation determines how people perceive your brand.
2. Why Is Online Reputation Important?
Online reputation is important because it can help you to better manage what people say about your brand, offer information when customers ask for it and avoid a brand crisis or stop the spread of fake content and misinformation.
Yes, you might be thinking that it is a long ride to think about and it might never happen to your brand. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You don’t need a crisis management plan, but rather a brand monitoring plan.
Online reputation management (ORM) doesn’t mean only tracking reviews and responding to comments and answers on your social media channels or website.
The online is a big world, there are lots of social media platforms, websites and forums where people can talk about your brand, where you might not have visibility even though you search for your brand online. So, it is basically impossible to find out on your own what customers and competition say about you.
When somebody asks a question, they often expect an answer. A study by Clutch shows that 83% of people expect to get responses on social media comments in less than a day. If it takes longer, people tend to get frustrated and post negative feedback and attack the brand. In these cases, it is important to show empathy and help customers.
It only takes one bad experience for someone to give negative feedback, no matter if in the past the person had positive experiences. And customer service can easily tip the scales in one direction or another.
A positive customer service communication is putting the customer first.
Various studies showed that U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.
In the example below you can see how customer service can save the day:
3. How to Manage Online Reputation
Given the fact that news spreads fast and there are lots of social media channels and websites where your website might be mentioned, you can follow the tips below to manage online reputation easily.
Answer promptly and be helpful
Whenever somebody makes comments, gives feedback or asks for information, time is of the essence. Everybody wants the answer yesterday. Everybody is in the rush. We live in the speed Era, no joke.
Of course, the tone of voice and empathy matter, too. The customer services team needs to be prepared, answer professionally and give support. So, one of the first things to remind yourself and your team is to answer fast and provide helpful information.
A private message can easily become a negative public statement if it doesn’t get answers.
Pushing down negative reviews and not responding to people's claims is not the answer. You should always address online negative feedback upfront.
You never know how people react and it's best to address the situation promptly and offer solutions. If that is the case, even apologize to the customer to conclude the situation, otherwise, you might be dealing with other issues. That comment or feedback can be easily indexed in search results and you don't want people to see negative things when they first hear about your brand.
Monitor your social mentions
To be aware of what people say about your brand, you can’t just look through the search results because you won’t find all the bits and pieces. So, it's better to have helpful tools to track your social footprint and manage the options that suit you.
Not all the time people tag your page when they talk about you, so having an automated tool or plugin that helps you track any keyword you want is pure gold.
Respond to negative feedback
If you close your eyes and ignore negative comments and reviews, it will only come at your disadvantage. When people don’t get answers and don’t get help when they need it, they might go somewhere else to ask for help. You can be blindsided with consumer rights complaints and things can escalate.
Not to mention that other potential customers might read those negative reviews and influence their decision to buy. There are lots of people that trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Always address negative comments, but be very carefully how you do it.
Responding to negative reviews can follow the next guideline:
- Address the customer by name
- Apologize to the customer
- Sympathize with the problem
- Ask more questions if needed to clarify the situation
- Offer solutions and help or other services in return (if possible)
Below you can see an example of an answer for a negative review.
Even though it might sound like a contradiction, transparency remains the best policy. People will always appreciate honesty and online communication between the brand and its community.
If you try to avoid, hide or delete the conversation, you’ll only make it worse. It will be like you pour gasoline on fire. Millions of eyes might be watching and it will make it look like something is indeed bad or much worse.
4. Online Reputation Tools
If you want to manage or build your brand’s reputation, you don’t necessarily need a reputation management company. You can use online tools that track the mentions of your brand and give you insights.
Looking on the search engines or manually tracking all brand mentions is practically impossible and insane. That’s why we have tools, to make our life easier. Below you can find helpful online reputation management tools.
BrandMentions is a social monitoring tool that tracks mentions about brands, businesses, and individuals from any website or social platform and it also shows sentiment analysis.
Sentiment analysis is the way to identify emotions and listen to the voice of the customer through written online communication.
If a person is angry, you can see that by the way that person wrote or used the words. BrandMentions can identify what types of mentions you get (positive, negative neutral sentiment) based on people’s language and words used.
Analyzing sentiment analysis can give you directions and insights on your brand’s online reputation. If most of the mentions are positive, that means people appreciate your brand and you have a positive online reputation. You can take advantage of it and use that in your content strategy or digital marketing campaign to connect with that audience and give back to your fans.
If, on the contrary, you have lots of brand mentions with negative sentiment analysis, then it means something is wrong and people are not satisfied.
A simpler option for business owners with small brands is Google Alerts. You can add the terms you want to track and the tool gives you newly published online content about your business based on the mentions for those specific terms.
Google Alerts works very well if you have fewer mentions. Based on the media content you get, you can drive overall conclusions if you look at what people say about your brand.
Talkwalker Alerts is promoted as an alternative to Google Alerts. The tool has a similar setup and allows you to add a keyword, enter your email address, choose the target language, number and results type and select the frequency of the notifications (daily or weekly).
You can track mention for your brand or monitor your competitions and find gaps you could fill.
For large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of locations, Reputation.com is a handy option. The platform is focused on online reputation management and customer experience management and provides lots of solutions for tracking and improving online reviews, social media profiles, and local search visibility for businesses.
Building and managing online reputation is an ongoing adventure. People will always find ways to talk about your brand online. You just have to see them. Track brand mentions, and turn customers into local advocates by building your online reputation.
The online reputation of a brand can be built from the inside or can be easily expanded from the outside, based on people’s opinions and experiences with the brand.
It takes time and patience to build a brand’s online reputation. Usually, the focus should be on honesty, good delivery, good products and services, and good customer service. A team of trained and professional customer service can save the brand from a lot of awful situations. Online reputation management involves transparency, answering promptly, empathy, apologies when it is the case.