Posted by Jessica Render on Oct 13, 2016
Jessica Render

So, what is online reputation management, anyway?

Reputation management is a method of affecting public perception about a given brand through the monitoring of and active engagement with conversations surrounding that brand online.

Why does it matter?

According to a consumer review study conducted by BrightLocal, 92% of consumers now read online reviews, and Nielson’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising study showed that 66% of global consumers trust consumer opinions posted online.

Modern consumers turn to Google first, doing copious amounts of online research before making a purchase decision. They look for trustworthy information from other consumers through online reviews and social media commentary.

For smart brands, reputation management is no longer a choice but an integral part of a larger marketing strategy. If consumers are going to see what people are saying about you online, shouldn’t you be a part of that conversation?

That same BrightLocal study also found that 84% of those surveyed found reviews older than 6 months to be irrelevant, which presents both good and bad news for brands. While it’s comforting for brands to know that an older negative review may not be taken as seriously, it also indicates a steady stream of fresh reviews is required at all times to stay relevant to consumers. What may understandable seem like a daunting task for many brands.

How to effectively manage your reputation online.

Today, brand managers must not only be tuned-in to what’s being said about their company online, but be actively engaged in the conversation themselves, responding to questions, concerns and larger-scale customer service issues through dedicated customer service management efforts either manually or through a trusted CSM platform.

Here are a few best practices for your reputation management checklist:

  • Monitor brand mentions online through social media, search engine results (SERPs), and known trusted third-party review sites like ConsumerAffairs.com.
  • Respond to reviews publicly. Consumers will be able to see that you’re actively engaged, and you’ll get to highlight your customer service, managing your relationships with existing customers and earning the trust of consumers.
  • Ask for reviews. Pretty much every brand out there is going to receive negative reviews from time to time. Unhappy customers are incentivized by their internal frustration to share their opinions about their negative experience with a brand, but the same can’t be said about consumers who had a positive experience. For many brands, this amounts to a silent majority of sorts, of satisfied customers who never share their feedback or positive stories about the brand online unless asked. Prompting these consumers to share their satisfaction publicly will help combat negative entries and create a more balanced and fair listing for your brand online.
  • Develop an intentional content marketing strategy. With blog posts, content development like reports, white papers and infographics, and a dedicated press release strategy, brands can see a total makeover in their SERPs and an overall higher sentiment for their brand online.

To be successful with your reputation management efforts it’s important to define what success looks like for your brand. Is it improving existing relationships by developing a dedicated online customer support strategy to respond to and solve negative sentiment comments? Empowering the silent majority to speak up and collect more positive feedback about your brand online? Or maybe creating a deeper knowledge base online through content development that will change the face of SERPs for your brand. Whatever your goals are, having a plan and following through will make a huge impact on your brand’s success online.