Each business is unique, meaning they will manage their online reputations differently. For example, small businesses can make a huge impact just by being trustworthy and offering value to customers, while responding to online comments and negative reviews as they appear. However, as a business grows, controlling a digital reputation gets more complicated.
Here’s everything you need to know to develop a reputation management strategy that can grow with your organization.
Research Your Business Reputation
The first step to managing your reputation online is conducting research. Search the internet and use social listening tools to identify comments and conversations about your company and discover what people say about it. Check out:
Customer review sites
Google Business Profile
References to your business’s name on Google and other search engines
Also, search relevant keywords and the names of your competitors. People talk about your business — you just need to find out where.
Develop Reputation Management Strategies
Once you understand the online reputation of your business, you’ll have the foundational information needed to improve it.
For instance, if your research shows your customer service is lacking, take steps to improve it based on the comments. This is known as reactive reputation management.
Your research may identify industry changes that could affect your business’s reputation in the future. Plan now before you’re impacted, which is referred to as proactive reputation management.
Once you address immediate issues, build out a complete reputation management plan, including:
Who monitors online conversations, and how often
The types of comments and conversations you must monitor
The platforms that need to be watched
The reputation management tools available
The types of comments, reviews, or mentions that require responses
Planning for online emergencies can help your team respond correctly during stressful situations that can escalate quickly.
Determine Your Tone for Responses
You must respond to public comments about your business using a consistent tone of voice that reflects your brand and positions it positively.
Create a tone guide to use when responding, and always stick to it. Include your brand's tone of voice and values. Explain how they support your brand and company mission, plus how to reflect them in crises. Having a guide can help you determine the right messaging for any emergency.
No matter what tone your company uses, always make it a point to ensure customers feel heard when they read your messages.
Communicate Your Plan to Key Stakeholders
Share your reputation strategy with anyone who may identify a reputation issue or could be required to help resolve it. Ensure everyone clearly understands their part in reputation management and how you plan to hold them accountable for it. Meet regularly with the team to discuss what went right and what didn’t go so well, along with updates to the plan.
Don’t merely respond to online comments and criticisms —take them to heart. Even if you disagree with a bad review, it might carry a grain of truth, reflecting deeper problems within your business. Use this feedback to identify parts of your organization that need special attention. Don’t stop there. Read positive comments to figure out what your company is doing right so you continue doing those things and expand on what’s working.
Dealing with negativity can become tedious. Despite this, you can’t just turn a blind eye. A single unanswered negative comment or review could seriously impact your business's bottom line. If you or anyone on your team feels burned out on reputation management, transfer responsibilities to someone fresh. And remember: it’s okay to take breaks.
As you monitor your business reputation over time, adjust your strategies and plan. Look out for small shifts, not just major events. A few minor issues could indicate an emerging crisis.
To figure out whether your reputation management strategies are effective, you must monitor and measure results. Key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect reputation success include:
Financial and sales performance
Repeat purchase rate
Social media engagement
Share of voice
The metrics you monitor depend on your business goals and the issues you identify in your research. However, if the metrics are improving, your business reputation is likely improving, too — if they’re declining, it’s time to take action to protect your brand’s reputation.
Don’t just react to negative feedback about your brand. The more proactive your approach to online reputation management, the better.