Online Reputation Management Strategy Guide

Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management Strategy Guide
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: March 17, 2023

Are you constantly trying to gauge how the public sees your brand? Wondering about the do’s and dont's when responding to negative feedback?

With an online reputation management strategy, you can establish a game plan on how to respond to negative reviews and assess how your brand is seen online by using management tools to monitor your brand mentions.

In this article, we’ll share the importance of an online reputation management strategy, provide tips to help you improve your online reputation and explore top tools you can use to simplify your management process.

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What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management is the process of actively monitoring and identifying your online brand mentions so you can respond to negative reviews and comments.

Online reputation management improves your online presence, boosts your brand credibility and ensures the public sees your brand and offerings in a positive light.

Why Should You Implement an Online Reputation Management Strategy?

Your online reputation can make or break your brand.

Key reasons to implement a strategy include:

Impacts Purchasing Decisions

Your brand’s reputation plays a crucial role in a customer’s decision-making process.

In fact, according to an industry report, 89% of consumers worldwide read online reviews before purchasing a product in 2020.

To prevent negative reviews and ensure your brand’s credibility (especially for first-time customers), it’s important to address complaints and manage negative reviews to improve your online reputation and ultimately, increase sales.

An online reputation management strategy helps you identify and respond to negative mentions about your brand by ensuring you have guidelines to adhere to such as a company template to respond to complaints.

Helps You Retain Customers

A positive online reputation is built on a strong foundation of great customer service and raving reviews.

When you respond to negative reviews and provide solutions, chances are your customers will do business with you again.

Providing exceptional customer service attracts new prospects and allows your existing customers to be loyal (yes, even those who swore never to purchase from your brand again!)

An online reputation management strategy helps you respond to reviews by utilizing online reputation management tools so you can monitor and manage your brand mentions.

How To Implement an Online Reputation Management Strategy

From monitoring your social media accounts to utilizing public relations, here are seven tips to help you manage your online reputation.

1. Monitor Your Social Media Accounts

Thanks to its instantaneous environment, social media is a platform that enables your customers and potential customers to ask questions or share their criticism.

Your followers expect your brand to respond to comments and questions, and offer support when needed.

To maintain a positive reputation on social media, monitor your social media accounts and promptly respond to customers who need their concerns to be addressed.

Starbucks is a brand that does exceptionally well in monitoring their social accounts.

While the F&B giant has a separate Twitter account for customer concerns, they’re also active on their primary Twitter account.

Starbucks leverages their social media accounts to help customers, almost in real-time, whether they have questions about the rewards system or a complaint about their recently purchased venti iced caramel macchiato.

2. Address Controversies Promptly

Are your customers speculating if your offerings are authentic as to what you promise them?

Or maybe you’re in the food and beverage industry and controversies sparked due to food-borne outbreaks.

Be transparent to your customers and promptly respond to any speculations they may have to prevent reputational crises and more controversies.

A great example of a brand addressing rumors is McDonald’s Canada.

In late 2014, McDonald's Canada launched a transparency marketing campaign, “Our food. Your questions.” to address misinformation surrounding their food and ingredients.

The campaign created a dedicated website for customers to ask questions about their products publicly.

Questions ranged from, “Is it true that your hamburgers have earthworms?” to “Do you use real eggs in your Egg McMuffins? They look too perfect.”

The campaign received more than 42,000 questions, and around 3.8 million site visitors read the campaign’s FAQ page.

McDonald’s turned controversy surrounding their ingredients around to their advantage by using it as an opportunity to educate customers, stand firm behind the quality of their products and shut down rumors.

3. Encourage Customer Reviews

Customer reviews give prospects a chance to read about the experience that former customers had with your brand and its offerings.

To encourage customer reviews:

  • Reach out to customers via email or social media and ask them to write you a review
  • Automate your review process through pop-up forms, follow-up emails and customer feedback request emails
  • Offer an incentive, such as a special discount on the next purchase when your customer leaves a review

4. Respond To Negative Reviews

Receiving negative reviews can sting, especially if your brand strives to provide superior customer service.

While your knee-jerk reaction might be to ignore and delete negative reviews (or even argue with unhappy customers), responding to negative reviews establishes trust and shows that you care about your customers.

Thank your customer for reaching out, apologize and offer a solution.

Here is an example of Starbucks responding to a disappointed customer:

Starbucks Cares begins their reply by thanking the customer. While it seems like a standard reply, the line “I would be disappointed too if this happened to me” adds a human touch. The customer care representative displayed empathy, showing that the brand understands the upset customer.

5. Show Positive Social Proof

Boost your brand’s credibility, establish trust and educate your prospects about past customers’ experiences by displaying positive social proof on your social accounts and website’s homepage.

Social proof includes:

  • Earned media: Did The Wall Street Journal say that your brand is one of the market leaders in your industry? Earned media builds brand awareness and shows that your brand is worth paying attention to.
  • Celebrity endorsements: Celebrity endorsements occur when a celebrity or influencer uses your product and promotes it on their social media accounts to turn fans into customers. Influencer marketing is considered a highly effective marketing strategy. In fact, 93% of marketers partnered with influencers in 2019.
  • Positive user reviews: While you should respond and provide solutions to negative reviews, weed them out from your website’s homepage to prevent prospects from having second thoughts about your brand. Display authentic testimonials where past customers were satisfied with your products and services to attract new customers and give them that extra nudge in their purchasing decision.

6. Utilize Public Relations

Partnering with a public relations (PR) agency allows you to improve your reputation online by generating positive press for your brand.

A PR agency is a team of experts who manage your brand’s public image.

Positive press examples include:

  • Guest posts on credible websites
  • Press releases
  • Podcast guesting
  • Brand events
  • Charity events
  • Collaboration or partnerships with well-respected brands, individuals and influencers in your industry

7. Monitor Your Brand Mentions

Actively monitor your brand mentions to identify, address and contain negative brand mentions.

Online reputation management tools enable you to set up alerts for relevant keywords such as your brand name or any product or service tied to your brand.

These tools notify you when the keywords are mentioned in videos, blog posts, social media or forums, so you can promptly address issues on any platform.

Explore Top Public Relations Firms

Tools To Manage Your Online Reputation

Managing your brand’s online reputation is an around-the-clock job. Here are five tools that can help you split the workload.

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a tool that allows you to monitor keywords related to your brand, proprietary products and competitors.

With Google Alerts, you can:

  • Track mentions of keywords
  • Monitor your brand mentions
  • Receive emails of keyword and brand mentions

Price: Free

2. BuzzSumo

From discovering trending content to identifying influencers, Buzzsumo is a compact content marketing tool that enables you to research content by entering a keyword into its search bar.

With BuzzSumo, you can:

  • Monitor your brand mentions
  • Discover new content and its source and online trends
  • Find active influencers and content creators who you can partner with

Price: BuzzSumo provides a free version of the platform, which allows 10 free searches per month, while its premium version allows unlimited searches and can be managed by 15 users.

3. Pulsar

Pulsar is a tool that allows you to monitor your brand mentions through utilizing social data.

With Pulsar, you can:

  • Monitor your brand mentions
  • Understand your audience better thanks to audience research
  • Identify metric-based answers about your audience’s behavior

Price: Contact Pulsar to request a quote.

4. Mention

Mention allows you to monitor more than one billion online sources daily, while sending you notifications of who is talking about your brand and competitors.

With Mention, you can:

  • Filter and analyze posts from different online sources
  • Monitor your brand mentions
  • Discover the latest digital trends

Price: Mention provides a free plan, which allows a monthly limit of 1,000 brand mention notifications. For the premium version of the platform, contact Mention to request a quote.

5. Reputology

Reputology is a monitoring and management platform for online reviews that enables you to track, identify and respond to online reviews.

With Reputology, you can:

  • Enable 24/7 review monitoring
  • Respond promptly to customer reviews
  • Monitor your team’s progress in responding to customer reviews
  • Gather customer feedback with personalized surveys

Price: Reputology starts at $110/month for a solo account that includes unlimited review sites.

Online Reputation Management Strategy: Key Takeaways

While online reputation management seems like a tedious process, it’s a practice that’s worth the investment.

Online reputation management allows you to build brand credibility and establish trust among both your prospects and existing customers.

The best part? Online reputation management isn’t rocket science, and you don’t have to go it alone.

Follow our tips and strategies and utilize monitoring tools to identify brand mentions and respond to questions, comments and reviews. An active strategy, transparency and empathy can help you ensure a positive image across every digital platform and channel.

Outsourcing the services of some of the reputation management agencies and specialized public relation companies can help you with this.

We’ll find qualified reputation management agencies for your project, for free.
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