The Basics of Online Reputation Management

Reputation – to some brands, it’s worth more than money itself. Reputation is the sum total of customer trust and brand recognition. Without it, brands perish.

It used to be that only the biggest brands had access to a large enough marketing budget to consistently maintain and influence their reputation. This, however, changed once the internet and social media came into play. The balance of power has shifted: now, reputation depends entirely on the whim and fancy of your customer base. Empires can now rise and fall in a matter of hours; whether you’re a small, local business, or a multinational conglomerate, you should be concerned with online reputation management.

What is online reputation management?

Simply put, online reputation management refers to the act of managing the impression your customers get when they interact with your brand. In practice, it’s a slow process of building your online image, which consists of elements such as search engine results, online customer reviews, videos and articles describing your products, social media posts – the list is endless.

Online reputation management is managing and influencing all of these things.

How to measure and track your online reputation?

Online reputation can be measured and tracked using social media monitoring tools. These tools, also known as social listening tools, track public statements containing specified keywords.

Of course, manually sifting through tens of thousands of posts, tweets, and articles to determine their tone (and, subsequently, the overall consensus about your brand) is almost impossible to do without hiring an entire department’s worth of people. That is why most advanced social listening tools offer a feature known as sentiment detection – simply put, these tools can automatically detect the tone and sentiment of each statement. This allows users to quickly figure out their brand’s standing and perception within broad consumer bases.

Thanks to social media monitoring tools, marketers and managers can instantly pinpoint their brand’s strengths (which they should capitalise on) and weaknesses (which should be promptly addressed)

What influences your online reputation?

This question can be answered with another: “what influences my customers’ purchase decision?” Put yourself in the shoes of a perfectly average customer. Faced with the opportunity to buy a product, how do you determine it’s worth your money?

Influencer marketing is currently one of the best ways of reaching large swaths of customers. Almost 60% of surveyed marketers say that they will increase their influencer marketing budgets in the coming year, and for good reason: in the current social media landscape, influencers hold immense, well, influence. More and more people look up video reviews of products before committing to a purchase. The same goes for online reviews. These, too, are consulted more and more frequently by potential customers.

However, be wary: both of these examples are double-edged swords. If your product, customer service, or brand politics aren’t up to snuff, you can be sure people will know. News of brand mishaps and controversy spread like wildfire on social media (after all, there’s no better feeling than schadenfreude) – and nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a social media crisis.

There are, of course, many more elements that factor into your online reputation. They include articles in the press, blog posts, mentions in videos… anything that comes up in the search results when you look up your own brand, basically.

Closing thoughts

Online reputation management isn’t a complicated topic, but it is work that takes a long time and pays off in the long term. Think of your reputation as of a forest: it takes a long time to grow, but decades of progress can be burnt to ash within hours.

Thankfully, modern social listening software, such as our own SentiOne Listen, can help you anticipate and prevent any wildfires. If you’re in the market for a comprehensive solution, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule a free trial.