how online reputation management works

How Online Reputation Management Works

Customers, clients, potential customers, fans, the media, and detractors are constantly talking about your business online. Some will have positive comments while others may have negative comments.

The type of opinion (positive or negative) that dominates the online discussion around your brand may determine your success or failure.

A positive online reputation will attract more customers and lead to revenue growth, while negative reviews will turn off potential customers.

A bad online reputation can be caused by negative reviews from unhappy customers, an unflattering media story about your company, embarrassing photos of your employees, or any story that gains traction online and paints you in a bad light.

This makes tracking and managing what people are saying about you online very important, and that’s why we wrote this article to help you understand how online reputation management works.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

It means monitoring and taking control of the online conversation to ensure searchers will always find positive content when they look for you online.

It also involves the application of techniques and strategies to prevent and resolve negative write-ups or customer feedback that could damage your reputation.

There is a dominant opinion about every brand online, and having control over your reputation helps you ensure you have a say in how you are perceived online.

It is majorly about monitoring mentions of your brand online to respond to negative consumer feedback or stories in social and traditional media.

A good example is Nike’s response to the Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout incident. It was one of the most-watched basketball games of the year with former President Barack Obama in attendance and the shoe blowout caused Zion to suffer an ankle sprain injury.

The incident caused product safety concerns and bad publicity for the company. It could have led to billions of dollars in losses. However, the company responded quickly and effectively, expressing concern for the athlete’s health and wishing him a speedy recovery. The company also pointed out that it was an isolated incident and pledged to investigate the cause of the incident.

Nike’s response is a good example of how to control the prevailing online sentiment about your brand. The former president and other celebrities were tweeting and commenting about the incident, and the company’s timely press release helped to take control of the online conversation.

The way search engines work makes all of these more difficult. They prioritize the popular opinion on the internet and not necessarily the positive or correct opinion.

This means if there is juicy gossip and negative news about you, such negative content may be prioritized by algorithms in response to search queries about your brand.

You need to monitor your online presence and minimize the impact of negative content. 

How Online Reputation Management Works

It involves using strategies and techniques to control what is being said about your brand on the major channels that influence your online reputation. These channels are:

Owned Media

These are online properties that you control including your website, blog, and your published content on mainstream media platforms.

The content on owned media channels is easier for you to control, and the focus will be to get the positive content on these channels to rank high on search results and help shape the public’s perception of your brand.

Shared Media

These are your online profiles on social media platforms and the content and comments posted by customers and other parties on those profiles.

Customer complaints, low star ratings, and negative comments on your social profiles can be very damaging. 

Here, what you need to do is to track your brand mentions on social media and respond effectively to any negative content that may pop up on your social accounts.

Earned Media

This includes press coverage, online profiles, and product reviews that you get for free.

This can come from platforms like Google (Google My Business), industry blogs, listing sites, and product review sites

The focus of your efforts on earned media channels will be to populate these channels with the right content and to respond effectively to negative press coverage, customer responses, and product evaluations.

To develop an effective strategy, here is a three-step process to help you get started.

Step 1: Review Your Online Reputation 

You need to understand how buyers currently judge your brand online. It is only after you have gotten the lay of the land, that you can formulate an effective strategy.

To discover the prevailing online sentiment, you need to do two things:

  1. Do an online search for your brand name
  2. Check out each of the following platforms to see what people are saying about your brand:
Google

When searching for your brand name, start by opening an incognito window on your web browser. This is because your search results on the traditional browser are influenced by how you have been profiled based on your browsing history.

This will make it difficult for you to get an unfiltered view of what searchers see about your brand on the search results. 

Opening an incognito window gives you a blank slate and ensures you will see what other users discover on the platform when they search for your brand.

Social media sites

Check out all the social media platforms where you have created a profile and examine the opinions and ratings left by customers and other visitors to your profile. You should also use social media monitoring tools to discover and review all social mentions of your brand on each platform.

Social platforms are very popular with both unhappy and loyal customers who want to let all their social media friends know what they think about your products.

Online forums

There are many community and industry forums on the internet where customers often talk about their experiences with the products and services of brands.

What is being said on these forums is very important because these pages often appear in search results. Negative opinions on these forums can dissuade potential customers from buying your products and services.

Review sites

Listing sites, industry review sites, and product review blogs are all platforms that publish content that grades the quality of your products and services.

Check out industry review sites, industry blogs, and general listing platforms to see how the quality of your products and services are being rated online.

  1. Understand the situation

Review the information you have gathered, and try to determine the prevailing online sentiment on each channel. To gauge online sentiment, do the following:

  • Google Search: check out what customers are saying and Google’s overall rating on your Google My Business (GMB) profile. Also, review the content of all the web pages that appear on the first page of searches for your brand name.
  • Social Media: review your social brand mentions to see if the dominant sentiment is positive or negative.
  • Press coverage: look out for negative coverage and misleading information
  • Review sites: evaluate the general sentiment about the quality of your products and services. Look out for misleading data and information, and also try to take note of critical opinions that can help you improve your operations.

After you have all the information you need, answer the following questions:

  • What are the web pages that appear on the first page of search results in response to queries for my brand name?
  • How many of those web pages do I have control over?
  • Is there a lot of chatter about my business online?
  • How popular is my business on social media platforms based on brand mentions?
  • On which channels are my brand receiving the most attention?
  • Is the overall online sentiment positive or negative?

Answering these questions will help you decide on the best techniques to use and the right channels to focus on when formulating your strategy.

Step 2: Take Control Of Your Online Reputation

To take charge, you also need to do two things:

  1. Create the right presence

The prevailing online opinion about your brand is shaped by the content that buyers find online. To create the right presence, you need to control the content searchers will find about your brand on all the major channels.

Here is how you can do it:

Publish SEO-optimized content regularly

Having a website ensures you control the first impression that buyers will have about you when they search for your brand online.

You should also blog regularly. Blogging gives you a platform to answer the pressing questions of your customers, establish your expertise, and build awareness about your brand.

Your website and blog posts should also be SEO-optimized. Include your brand name in the URL and title of your website to make it easier for search bots to find you.

Also, apply SEO best practices like optimizing blog titles, URLs, headers, images, and content when publishing articles on your blog.

Paying attention to SEO ensures content that has been optimized to make your brand look good will rank high when any customer searches for you online.

Address all customer complaints and negative online coverage

Prioritize channels where there is a lot of chatter about your brand and respond to all negative feedback and critical press coverage.

  • Customer feedback: reach out to unhappy customers that left negative comments on your profiles on social media, forums, GMB, listings sites, and other sites. Resolve their complaints and try to convert them into loyal customers.
  • Ranking pages with negative content: if a rogue author is publishing critical content about your website, reach out to express your dissatisfaction, and you can also ask Google to de-index the web page if the content is against Google’s guidelines.
  • Review sites:  contact the author of each critical review blog post and try to change their perceptions about your brand, products, and services. Convince them that you have made improvements that render their criticisms irrelevant, and where applicable, inform them about misleading information that needs to be removed.
Establish an active social media presence

Create accounts on all the social platforms that are popular with your customers. If you already have accounts on those platforms, make a plan on how you will build an engaged audience by posting regularly and responding to comments from your followers.

Link to each of these profiles from your website and from every other platform where you have an online presence.

If you are active on your profiles, they will rank high on search results, and push down negative content.

   2. Make sure the right content gets found online

All of your efforts will be in vain if searchers can’t find the positive content you have created online.

The goal is to get your content to the first page of search results and you can do this by adopting an aggressive SEO strategy.

It’s best if you work with an SEO expert or an SEO & digital marketing agency like Evergreen Growth Marketing to optimize all your web pages, social profiles, and blog posts to rank high for relevant keywords.

Step 3: Monitor Your Online Reputation

It is an ongoing process and you need to constantly monitor your online presence to be able to respond and adjust to any negative incident that could be damaging. 

Track your brand mentions with a tool like SEMrush’s brand monitoring tool.

With the tool, you can monitor brand mentions from your dashboard, and respond to negative comments and press coverage. The tool will also help you gauge the prevailing online sentiment to see if it’s positive or negative.

You should also set up Google Alerts for your brand name and other keywords that are related to your brand, products, and services. 

This will ensure you always receive updates for brand mentions and you will be able to respond to negative content while amplifying positive coverage elsewhere online.

Why Is It Important To Maintain A Good Reputation?

Today, the internet is where buyers get their information, and more importantly, they trust the information they get on the internet.

Since most individuals see the internet as a reliable source of information, any negative content or untrue statements can make customers and other prospects form a negative opinion about your brand. These negative sentiments can be difficult to dislodge. 

With an effective strategy, you can build a positive online image by boosting any positive review you get and other content that portrays your brand in the best possible light.

Below are more reasons why a positive reputation is important:

Customers And Potential Buyers Trust Online Word-Of-Mouth

Research shows that 99% of consumers would read online reviews and other user-generated content before deciding which product/service to purchase, and 85% of customers treat such opinions as personal recommendations.

Given the degree of importance that buyers place on word-of-mouth, it’s easy to see why it’s so important to have control over your online reputation.

An example of a major failure of reputation management is an incident between Nestle and Greenpeace.

Greenpeace accused the company of engaging in practices that are harmful to the environment in the production of its KitKat candy bar, and the company failed to respond quickly and effectively to the assertion.

The parody video created by Greenpeace went viral and instead of responding, the company showed antipathy to the whole incident. The company even asked YouTube to take down the video over a flimsy copyright excuse.

It became a major PR headache for Nestle, and the video got close to 100,000views within hours. People felt the complaint to YouTube was an attempt to silence Greenpeace and it attracted vitriolic comments and parodies of the company’s reaction all over the internet.

Your Online Reputation Affects Buyer Decisions

Overwhelming positive feedback and a good online reputation will win you customers and lead to increased revenues. Since most customers will read them before making the decision to make a purchase, you need to work hard to boost your review ratings.

Positive feedback and recommendations are so impactful that each additional 1-star rating can lead to a 9% increase in revenues.

 Negative Feedback And Critical Content Will Linger On The Internet For Years

Negative comments and critical press coverage often remain on the internet for years since the internet keeps everything. If the overwhelming online content about your brand is negative, your brand will suffer.

You can deal with this problem by reaching out to loyal customers for more positive feedback. Ask them to post it on your online profiles. This will overwhelm the damaging ones and boost your overall ratings.

You Get Useful Feedback

Paying attention to customer feedback will help you learn a lot about your business. You will learn what customers like and dislike about your products and services.

These useful insights will help you discover if customers are unhappy with your customer service, product quality, or anything that is making your customers unhappy.

The information will help you fix the issues and improve your operations to satisfy your customers.

On the other hand, positive feedback will help you discover what they love about your products and you can amplify those positive traits in your marketing campaigns.

Talents Prefer To Work With Companies That Have Good Reputations

The dominant online sentiment about your business will impact your ability to recruit the best talent. The online chatter about your brand will influence how potential employees view the pros and cons of working for you.

It’s only reasonable that a highly talented individual will prefer to work with a company that has a 5-star customer & workplace rating than one with a 1-star rating.

Why Are Online Reviews So Important To Small Businesses?

One of the most important factors that shape the online reputation of small businesses is customer reviews.

They provide customers with a convenient way to comment on your products and services. If they are happy customers, they will leave positive feedback, and if they are unhappy, they will leave damaging negative write-ups.

Since the 97% of potential buyers who use the internet to find you will read the consumer opinions on your profile, it’s best that the vast majority of those opinions are positive.

Online customer feedback is important for the following reasons:

They Are Everywhere

Your GMB profile, your profiles on listing sites, and your profiles on your social media platforms all allow customers to post what they think about your products & services. You can’t avoid customer feedback and the only course of action is to actively solicit positive responses.

Social Proof Influences Customers To Buy Your Products

Positive online feedback serves as social proof of the quality of your products and services. Potential buyers trust online opinions and are more likely to purchase your products if you have a 5-star rating.

Positive Customer Feedback Improves Your Trustworthiness

Customers won’t trust your brand if you have low review ratings. Any rating that is less than 4-stars is a turn off for most buyers.

Search platforms, social media platforms, and other reviews sites are aware of this. This is why brands with 5-star ratings rank higher in searches for relevant keywords than others with lower ratings.

How Can We Help Your Business With Online Reputation Management?

Creating an effective reputation management strategy and consistently monitoring your brand mentions across the internet is no easy task. It’s best to work with one of the reputation management companies in your local area.

Here at Evergreen Growth Marketing, we offer reputation management services including:

  • Google My Business Optimization
  • Online Reviews & Reputation Management 
  • Citations & Directory Listings
  • Search Engine Optimization

We will take control of your online presence and manage the online reputation of your business while you focus on improving your offerings and growing revenues.

how online reputation management works

Final Thoughts

This guide has provided you with everything you need to improve your brand’s image and to create overwhelmingly positive sentiment about your brand online.

Now, it’s up to you to use this information to take control of how you are perceived online. If you need help, Evergreen Growth Marketing is a Raleigh NC SEO & digital marketing company that can help you create and implement the right reputation management strategy.

Click below to schedule a free 1 on 1 assessment call for your business.

We will help you discover where you are wasting money on marketing and help to develop a strategy.

Whether it is a blueprint for SEO or a custom sales converting website, you can expect us to deliver.

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