It’s no secret that brands of all shapes and sizes rely on the positive sentiments of customers to make repeated sales and improve their reputation. Customers that feel a connection with your brand, for any reason, are likely to come back, and likely to recommend your product or service to their peers. So how is this basic truth affected by the age of the online presence? It’s not. Here’s how you should be handling your brand’s digital reputation.

Curate your own online presence

Brands have an online reputation to some extent whether they curate it themselves or not. This reputation is usually focused on one of two different reactions to your service: it was amazing, or it was poor. Positive customer feedback is crucial to the success of your business. So what does that mean? Don’t let independent reviews speak for you — be proactive about what brand information and content people see when they look for your name via a search engine. This way, it’s easy for you to put your best foot forward, so to speak. Promote yourself in a positive way by creating a great website, and this is what most people will click on when they type your brand name into Google, Yahoo or Bing. After all, Google results are the new word-of-mouth.

Work with review sites, not against them

Reputation management isn’t something you need to tackle all by yourself. You’ll need to deal with online reviewers the same way you deal with them in person or through the phone and email — personally and positively — but there are agencies that can help. Have representatives work with top-ranking, third-party review sites such as ConsumerAffairs to address any customer complaints and try to work through any issues. Not only can this change the mind of a disgruntled customer, but it can also change entire customer reviews and show others that your brand is hands-on and willing to work hard for a good reputation. Maintaining a partnership with ConsumerAffairs will help you to track your brand’s reputation and learn how to foster better brand sentiment. Unchecked word-of-mouth can shape the way potential clients view your brand, in a positive or negative way.

Make word-of-mouth advertising positive and easy

What do your customer service representatives do when a customer emails the company with a complaint? They politely listen to the problem, console the customer and offer practical solutions. The same methods should be applied to customers that decide to review your brand online. Not only is this good business sense, but it also gives bloggers, other potential customers, future reviewers and everyone else something positive to say or consider next time they see your brand name. Other ways that you can positively affect word-of-mouth advertising, especially online, is by opening up social media channels and connecting with customers via Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Share images, blogs and videos that feature your brand in a good light, such as giving free products to charity, working with employees to create a better work environment or holding contests to benefit repeat customers.

Keeping up to date with your brand’s online presence is an intrinsic aspect of curating brand sentiment and building a great online reputation. Work with third-party professionals and engage multiple marketing channels to let customers and potential buyers your brand’s best side!