This is an article ‘Why online reputation management is essential for brands’ by Marc Primo
Every business or personality's online reputation management has become an essential aspect of branding in today's digital age. With the proliferation of social media and review websites, people are more connected than ever. It has always been challenging for customers to share their experiences with everyone on social media. Sound like a double-edged sword? It is—especially for businesses. While positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations can drive sales and improve a brand's reputation, negative feedback and trolling campaigns can have disastrous effects.
So why is reputation management so important?
Even before the digital age, public relations practitioners and marketers had already observed how critical it is to keep a brand's name untarnished. However, one of the primary reasons why online reputation management is so important today is that it allows businesses to control the narrative around their brand in real-time and across multiple channels.
Without proactive management and campaigns, a single smear, negative review, or social media bash can quickly escalate and change thousands of followers' minds. Needless to say, it's always essential to monitor and address negative issues as they arise. Like well-trained gardeners, today's elite marketers should learn how to nip potential problems in the bud and maintain their brands' positive images.
Here are a few insights on why reputation management is as essential for brands today more than ever:
Customers need to know they've got a friend
Another key benefit of online reputation management is that it helps businesses to understand their customers' needs and preferences. Prior to the pandemic, 87% of consumers read reviews online while 79% trusted those reviews or got recommendations from friends and family. By monitoring online reviews and social media conversations, companies can gain valuable insights into what their customers like and dislike about their products or services. This information can be incredibly useful for businesses looking to improve their offerings and provide a better customer experience.
Online reputation management is also essential for building trust and credibility. Consumers are increasingly wary of fake reviews and suspicious online activity in today's digital landscape. By actively managing their online reputation, businesses can demonstrate to customers that they are transparent, responsive, and trustworthy. This fact is crucial for smaller businesses, which may have a different level of brand recognition than larger companies.
Good brands get good boosts
Of course, online reputation management is about more than just managing negative reviews and feedback. It is also about promoting positive content and amplifying the good things customers have to say about a brand. Such feedback can include shared customer reviews and testimonials, announced positive media coverage, and highlighted awards and accolades that a business has received.
There are several strategies that businesses can use to manage their online reputation effectively.
Some of the most effective include:
By keeping track of what is being said about your brand online, you can identify potential issues and take the necessary tweaks and steps to address them before they escalate. Again, this is important if you want to nip any potential negative issues that could arise in the bud and prevent more significant problems from developing.
Social listening can also help a brand identify opportunities to engage with its audience and build stronger customer relationships. While traditional PR and social listening are both methods for managing a brand's reputation, they have some key differences.
Traditional PR focuses on controlling and disseminating information to the public, rather than listening to or understanding what the public is saying.
Social listening, on the other hand, monitors and analyzes social media conversations and mentions of a brand. So, while traditional PR is more about actively shaping and promoting a brand's image and message, social listening is more about understanding what the public is saying about a brand.
Once you know how your customers feel about your brand, you can then proceed to community management. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, businesses need to show that they are listening and willing to engage with their customers via the different social media channels. Such tactics can help your brand build trust and strengthen customer and stakeholder relationships in the future.
Spread good news
In addition to addressing negative feedback, businesses should also focus on amplifying the good things customers have to say about their brand. Preach the word and share feedback that could elevate your brand consciousness to prominence.
Positive highlighting entails sharing your customer reviews and testimonials on social media channels, promoting positive traditional media coverage, and highlighting your awards and accolades, if you have any. In short, business bragging rights are earned and never frowned upon if they speak of how authentic a brand is to its customers.
Embrace your customers' reviews
Another best practice for businesses that want to build online trust and credibility is encouraging customers to leave reviews on websites and social media platforms. These channels will allow you to gain the positive feedback you need to push your brand in other marketing campaigns. Plus, getting reviews helps establish a track record of positive experiences and provides potential lookalike audiences with a sense of what they can expect from a brand they previously had not heard of in their online scavenging.
Optimize, optimize, optimize
Search engine optimization (SEO) is still a powerful tool for online reputation management. By optimizing your website content and using relevant keywords that hit their marks, your brand can reach new heights in Google's search rankings. You get to ensure that positive content about your brand appears prominently in search results and accompanying snippets.
Keep your ears to the ground and your eyes on the prize
No one will ever tell you that online reputation management practices combined with effective digital PR are unessential. Most of those who thought otherwise probably have already burned their businesses to the ground. Online reputation management will always be your bread and butter for keeping your brand on every customer's top-of-mind list.
Try to proactively manage your brand's online presence whenever you launch campaigns to control the narrative on every channel. Of course, you can only do this by gathering valuable insights into your customers' needs and preferences.
Building trust and credibility and promoting positive content will follow quite quickly once you review those insights. Being authentic to your customers, listening to their pain points, and addressing whatever negative issue concerning your brand with integrity is always the surefire way to put out fires.
It's pretty easy to note how taking a proactive approach to managing your online reputation is the key to protecting and enhancing your brand's image and authority and, ultimately, driving sales and growth for years to come.