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Published October 31st 2023

The Essential Guide to Online Reputation Management

Here’s everything you need to know about managing your brand’s reputation online.

Online reputation management is vital for brands. Here’s everything you need to know to control your narrative, including online reputation management tips to help you succeed.

In this blog we'll cover:

What is online reputation management (ORM)?

Online reputation management is creating and maintaining a positive perception of your business online. From branding to social media mentions, keeping on top of your online reputation is vital for ensuring a positive brand image.

For some companies, this might involve dealing with negative posts or feedback online. But in most cases, it’s about ensuring the right content describing your brand is as visible as possible to those interested in it.

Having an online footprint is vital. Why? The power of online search is undeniable. Your visibility on Google search, your social media presence, and your brand’s website offerings are all key to a positive online reputation.

When a potential customer finds your business online, what they see can influence their purchase decision. So it’s important to get it right.

Here are some channels you should focus on to manage your reputation online.

Paid media

Paid media, or content that's promoted through paid placements, should be a key area of focus for managing your online reputation. You can have a direct impact on your reputation through this media channel.

Examples of online paid media include:

  • Video ads
  • Google and search ads
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Sponsored social media posts

Whether it’s through video ads or sponsored social posts, you can directly control the narrative about your brand.

Earned media

Earned media can be a bit more tricky as it requires a different strategy to paid media. This media source refers to online ‘word of mouth’ sharing. Here, you’re 'earning' credibility online, helping with your brand reputation.

Examples of online earned media include:

  • Word of mouth
  • Press releases and coverage 
  • Backlinks
  • Reviews or testimonials

By encouraging your followers and customers to get involved in your online efforts, you can boost your earned media, positively influencing your earned media reputation online.

Owned media

Your social media channels and branded websites are examples of your owned media. From TikTok to Pinterest, you have complete control over the content you post – and therefore power over your reputation.

Examples of owned media include:

  • Your company website
  • Blogs
  • Organic social media posts

Your owned media can greatly boost your efforts on other media sources, like paid and earned media, so it’s important to get it right.

Shared media

Shared media covers any content posted to social media about your brand. Usually, this is user-generated content (UGC) shared by consumers and fans. This media source can help your engagement skyrocket.

Examples of online shared media include:

  • User-generated content
  • Shares, reposts, or comments about your brand
  • Posts on forums

Positive shared media offers advocacy for your brand, which can influence potential customers’ opinions.

How does online reputation management work?

In the same way that a physical store should be approachable and impressive to its customers, successful corporate online reputation management should be welcoming and striking, too. It means customers will enjoy interacting with a brand and be satisfied with the process of becoming a customer.

Let’s look at an example. How does online reputation management work for an e-commerce brand that sells flowers? For this company, being known as the best place to buy flowers online is important. This means the company will want to:

  • Come up first in search engines
  • Use content and imagery on its site to sell flowers
  • Have savvy marketing strategies that convert people browsing into new customers

In order to maintain a good online reputation as the best place to buy flowers, the brand must also:

  • Have a quality product that will be well-reviewed
  • Ensure its website and social media presence is accurate, well-presented, and up-to-date
  • Maintain excellent customer service and deal appropriately with complaints
  • Address anything that might tarnish the reputation of the brand

By implementing strategies to boost your reputation online, your business can thrive. Let’s look at why.

Why managing your online reputation is important for your business

So, why is online reputation management so essential?

Digital reputation management has many benefits, offering ways to stand out from competitors and boost search rankings online. But it can also be essential if negative press coverage begins to impact your brand.

Your brand’s online image is made up of many factors, including what others say about you. In some cases, this can be hard to manage if something goes wrong. Challenging a bad review or two might be possible, but it’s a lot more tricky to change somebody’s mind if there’s a slew of negative press about your brand online.

It’s human nature to click on sensational headlines or gossip, which is why bad press can get out of control. Negative posts can climb search engine rankings as they get more attention, which can negatively impact your reputation – and your bottom line. If nothing is available to counter bad press like this, your online reputation will suffer.

Luckily, managing your online reputation is the best way to counter any negative press, so you can see positive results on business sales.

How to create a strategy to improve your online reputation

Getting started with online reputation management can seem daunting. Still, there’s a lot you can do to create an excellent online reputation for your business – long before potential worst-case scenarios arise.

You can use several brand management strategies to boost your search engine rankings, increase engagement rates, and see positive results on your bottom line.

Here’s a step-by-step online reputation management guide.

Audit your online reputation

Begin by finding out where people are talking about your brand. From blogs to social media, there will be a lot out there about your brand – perhaps even in places you don’t know about.

You can manually search your company’s name on search engines to see what information comes up about your brand. This will include internal information like your web pages. Make sure to do this on an incognito browser so you get an unbiased view.

Social media is more potent than ever. So it’s important to see what consumers think about your brand across these sites, too. Companies that opt out of certain social media platforms still need to understand – and occasionally engage with – what's being said about them in these places. At the end of the day, you need to meet your audience where they are, so gather this information to help inform your strategy moving forward.

You can also do a survey for both customers and non-customers to understand what people think of your business and how it stacks up against your competitors. This should include people who have never heard of your company so you can see how your business is perceived by people who aren’t customers yet.

Consider using a social listening tool like Brandwatch Consumer Research to make this process (a lot) easier. This way, you can get a holistic view of your reputation all in one place.

Analyze your findings

Now you have a good idea about what people are saying about your brand – and where they’re saying it – it’s time to analyze your findings.

Take a look at the themes that come up when looking at how consumers are discussing your brand, and measure these up to your core brand values. Are there any discrepancies?

Find out what topics come up the most often, and implement a strategy to engage with these conversations in a way that reflects your brand identity. For example, if people criticize your customer service, you can make it simpler for customers to find out how to get in touch. Or, if they’re praising it, you can prioritize showcasing how easy it is to get issues resolved.

For your online reputation to measure up to your brand identity, you need to get serious about how you want to be perceived online. You can then use this information to advise your strategy going forward.

Now you have a good idea about which areas you need to work on, it’s time to implement these strategies.

Create quality content

A crucial part of online reputation management is having your own voice and using it. Even if what people are saying about your brand is positive, creating content that resonates with your audience can help to ensure it stays that way.

Brainstorm how you can implement content that mirrors your brand identity and post it on platforms where your customers are spending their time. This can include anything from:

There will be plenty of places to share your brand identity, and creating quality content is one of the best ways to engage with your audiences.

Optimize your SEO

Utilizing search engines is key to optimizing your website strategy. Making sure your SEO is strong can lead to direct customer conversions – and, it means that you get to define how your brand will appear when people search for you.

Complete a full SEO audit to find out how you can improve your website. Discover what pops up first about your brand on search engines, and review whether this is how you want your brand to be perceived.

Is your brand identity evident on your website? Can you create any content that will boost your search engine rankings? What are customers, and potential customers, searching for when they look up your brand?

Customers want to find relevant information about your brand straight away, so prioritize SEO to improve the return on investment on your website.

Engage with your audience

From partaking in conversations about your brand to creating thoughtful content for your audience, engaging with potential customers is vital.

This can include anything from:

  • Answering the questions people are asking about your brand
  • Replying to direct messages or mentions on social media
  • Generating new conversations with your customers
  • Making FAQs based on the questions people are asking the most

Answer questions, engage with your social followers, and build a reputation for contributing to the narrative happening about your brand. This way, you’ll find that people speak more favorably about you.

Address negative reviews

Online reputation management and reviews go hand-in-hand. The online community offers a lot of transparency, and if you’re not doing well, you’re going to hear about it.

Make sure your staff are all mindful of how they come across when interacting with customers – even if they’re not directly consumer-facing. Something as small as a bad email manner could put somebody off.

Make an effort to acknowledge any negative press you might be getting, especially if it’s as a review left on your, or a third-party, website. Be quick to reply, too, so other customers can see that you care about their experience.

Putting more effort into building relationships also means that customers are often more willing to be vocal about you. If you’re doing a good job, ask your customers, clients, or fans to leave a glowing review.

Promote positive reviews

Make sure to showcase any positive reviews you get. Do this in as many places as possible, so potential customers can see how great your brand is.

From sharing these on an Instagram Story to featuring them on the website or including them in email marketing, there are plenty of relevant places to share positive reviews.

You could even create video content, interviewing customers further to create a bank of review content you can use across social media – or even for ads.

Proactively asking for feedback from happy customers will increase the number of positive reviews you have.

Make sure to act on any feedback you get, too. Reviews are an essential part of understanding your customer journey.

Monitor your brand’s reputation continuously

Online reputation management is an ongoing process for all brands. As social media, search engines, and customer expectations grow and evolve, it’s important to stay on the pulse of what people are saying about your brand.

The online world moves fast. If there’s a crisis, knowing the landscape of the internet and what’s important to your audience will help you react quickly and in the best way possible. Keep up to date with the latest trends or bring in experts from online reputation management companies to help.

Now you know the key signifiers of online reputation, you can start figuring out how to manage yours effectively.

If you need a hand in knowing how to do online reputation management, why not try Brandwatch? We can help you understand what’s being said about you online. 

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