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Managing brand reputation online: Methods of online success

What online brand reputation management means


Online brand reputation management involves monitoring, influencing, and improving a brand’s perception in the digital environment. This practice is extremely important because the internet amplifies both positive and negative opinions, which can significantly impact a company’s success and market perception.

Effective brand reputation management includes several strategies and techniques that help maintain a positive brand image online. Here is a detailed explanation:


Monitoring online mentions and conversations

Brand reputation management starts with careful monitoring of what is being said about the brand across various digital platforms, including social media, blogs, review sites, and news resources. Tools like Google Alerts, Mention, or Brandwatch are used by companies to track mentions in real-time.

This allows them to respond quickly to both positive and negative feedback. For instance, a major hotel chain might use these tools to immediately respond to a guest complaint posted on Twitter, demonstrating their commitment to quality service.


Engaging with customers

Engagement is key to maintaining a positive online reputation. Responding to comments and interacting with customers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter helps build relationships with the audience.

For example, a retail brand could use Instagram to respond to customer inquiries about product availability. This approach not only meets a direct need but also shows others that the brand is attentive and responsive.


Managing reviews and ratings

Online reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor can significantly impact reputation. Positive reviews can attract customers, while negative ones can deter them.

Effective management involves encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and professionally addressing the issues mentioned in negative feedback. For instance, a restaurant might offer a discount on a future meal as a goodwill gesture to a customer who had a poor dining experience, potentially leading to a review revision or mitigating its negative impact.


Creating and managing content

Publishing high-quality, relevant content through blogs, videos, and social media posts helps shape a positive brand image. Content can highlight brand values, showcase products or services, and address common questions or concerns. A tech company might create tutorial videos and detailed blog posts on how to effectively use their products, which can help clarify misunderstandings and improve user experience, thereby enhancing brand reputation.


Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a crucial part of brand reputation management. It ensures that positive content and official communications rank high in search results and helps control the narrative seen by those searching for information about the brand online. For example, a healthcare provider might optimize content around positive patient reviews and success stories to outrank any negative publications or reviews.


Crisis management

Adequate response to crises is an essential part of online reputation management. Developing a clear plan for dealing with potential issues can prevent them from escalating and further damaging the brand’s reputation. For instance, when a food manufacturer faces a recall, a quick response through online platforms can maintain trust and minimize fallout.


Regular analysis and adaptation

Continuous analysis of reputation management efforts is necessary to understand which strategies are effective and which need adjustment. Tools that measure the sentiment and engagement of online content can provide insights into the effectiveness of different tactics.

Effective brand reputation management can lead to increased trust and customer loyalty, directly impacting a company’s financial performance. Proactively managing a company’s online presence not only mitigates the impact of negative publicity but also improves visibility and attractiveness in a competitive market.



Why manage brand reputation online


Managing a company’s online brand reputation is key to maintaining a positive public image. The process encompasses various activities aimed at influencing how the brand is perceived online, directly affecting customer trust, sales volumes, and the overall state of the business.


Building and maintaining trust

Trust is at the core of any successful relationship between a business and its customers. Online brand reputation management ensures access to positive and accurate information, helping to establish trust with potential and existing customers. For instance, a financial company can maintain and strengthen customer trust by regularly updating its website and social media, responding to customer inquiries, and swiftly addressing any misinformation.


Increasing visibility and attracting customers

Effective reputation management helps a brand maintain a strong online presence, which is crucial for attracting new people. Companies can increase their visibility through active participation in social media, ensuring positive reviews are visible, and effectively using content marketing. For example, a cosmetic brand could use influencer partnerships to enhance its visibility and credibility, attracting a broader audience.


Enhancing customer loyalty

A good reputation leads to increased customer loyalty. Customers tend to stick with brands they trust and with which they associate positive experiences. A company actively managing its online reputation by addressing customer issues and sharing positive stories reinforces its value to existing customers, making them more likely to return and recommend the brand to others.


Protecting against negative publicity

Bad news can spread quickly, potentially causing significant damage. Effective online reputation management can mitigate the impact of negative publicity by addressing issues directly and promptly. For example, when a popular restaurant chain faced criticism over food safety, it used social media to immediately respond, explaining the measures taken to address the issue and ensuring customer safety, thereby limiting damage to its reputation.


Driving business growth

A positive online reputation encourages business growth. Satisfied customers often share their experiences online, acting as advocates for the brand. For instance, a tech company receiving high ratings on forums might see an increase in sales as more consumers become aware of and trust the brand’s solutions.


Gaining a competitive edge

In highly competitive markets, a strong online reputation can be a significant differentiator. Companies that are favorably reviewed online can outperform their competitors with weaker or negative reputations. A retail store with high customer satisfaction ratings and positive online reviews will attract more people compared to competitors with lower ratings.


Gathering valuable insights

Online brand reputation management includes monitoring and analyzing reviews, providing valuable insights into customer preferences, expectations, and issues. This information can guide product development, marketing strategies, and service improvements. For example, a software development company could use online customer feedback to tweak its user interface to be more intuitive based on user suggestions.


Attracting and retaining employees

A strong brand reputation not only attracts new customers but also talented employees. Potential employees often research a company’s reputation before deciding to apply. Companies known for their positive corporate culture are more appealing to prospective employees. For instance, a company known for being employee-friendly and committed to customer satisfaction can more easily attract and retain qualified staff.


Online brand reputation management is a key factor in establishing trust, increasing visibility, strengthening customer loyalty, protecting against negatives, stimulating growth, and maintaining a competitive edge. This ongoing process requires constant attention and strategic planning but yields significant rewards in terms of business sustainability and success.


Examples of brand reputation management


Johnson & Johnson (Tylenol crisis management)

One of the classic examples of brand reputation management is Johnson & Johnson’s response to the Tylenol crisis in 1982. After seven deaths were linked to cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson swiftly pulled the product worth $100 million from the shelves. They communicated openly with the public and stakeholders throughout the crisis, resolved the issue by introducing tamper-proof packaging, and reassured the public about product safety. Their quick and transparent response helped restore trust and is often regarded as a benchmark in crisis management.


KFC (Chicken shortage crisis)

In 2018, KFC faced a logistical nightmare that left hundreds of their restaurants in the UK without chicken. KFC tackled the problem head-on with a humorous and self-deprecating advertising campaign. The ad rearranged the letters of their brand to read “FCK” on an empty chicken bucket, apologizing for the blunder. The honest and human response was well received by customers and helped mitigate the negative impact on their reputation.


Airbnb (Anti-discrimination policy)

Airbnb actively manages its brand reputation by addressing discrimination issues on its platform. The company faced criticism for instances of racial discrimination by hosts. In response, Airbnb launched a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy which included reducing the prominence of user photos and requiring hosts and guests to agree to a community commitment to treat everyone equally. Additionally, they launched a campaign focused on diversity and inclusion. This approach helped restore and improve the brand’s reputation.


Daimler (Mercedes diesel scandal)

Daimler AG faced significant reputation damage following allegations of tampering with emissions test results. In response, Daimler announced a voluntary recall of over three million diesel Mercedes-Benz cars to enhance the emission systems. They also invested in digital technologies to improve transparency and communication with customers. Their proactive stance helped control the damage and gradually restore consumer trust.


Buffer (Transparent pricing model)

Buffer, a social media management tool, is known for its transparency, which they maintain as a core part of their brand reputation management strategy. They publicly share everything from their pricing and product roadmap to employee salaries. This level of openness has fostered trust and loyalty among customers, distinguishing them in a saturated market.


Sony (PlayStation network hacking)

Sony’s PlayStation Network faced a massive data breach in 2011, affecting millions of users. Sony initially struggled with the response but eventually took the network offline to enhance security and protect user data. The company issued formal apologies, provided free identity theft protection, and offered free games to affected users. Their efforts to rectify the initial response helped restore user trust.


These examples demonstrate that effective brand reputation management can vary greatly depending on the specific issues and opportunities a company faces. Whether managing a crisis, changing policy, or embracing transparency, a brand’s actions can significantly influence its reputation and customer loyalty. Each strategy was tailored to the nature of the issue and broader business goals, highlighting the importance of a thoughtful approach to reputation management.


Interesting facts about online brand reputation management


Response speed is critical

The speed at which a company responds to customer inquiries or complaints online can significantly impact its reputation. According to a Convince & Convert study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes, and nearly a third expect it within half an hour. Domino’s Pizza excels in this area, aiming to respond to customer reviews on Twitter within a few minutes. This approach helps improve customer satisfaction and brand perception.


Impact on revenue

Online reputation management directly affects revenue. A Harvard Business School study showed that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% revenue increase for restaurants. This fact highlights the direct financial benefit of maintaining a positive online reputation.


Cost of negative reviews

Negative reviews can significantly affect a business. It is estimated that one negative review can cost a company about 30 customers. Lego faced this issue a few years ago when it received negative feedback for a new product line that did not resonate with its core audience. Actively engaging with reviews and addressing the expressed concerns helped Lego mitigate the negative impact and ultimately restore customer trust.


Power of positive content

Creating and promoting positive content about a brand can significantly enhance its online reputation. Microsoft, for example, manages numerous blogs and social media accounts where they publish positive stories, innovations, and customer success stories. This helps overshadow any negative content that may appear online.


Activating customers as advocates

Encouraging satisfied customers to become advocates for the brand is an effective reputation management strategy. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other type of advertising. Tesla has leveraged this by creating a community of passionate fans who advocate for the brand on various social media platforms, effectively strengthening its online reputation without traditional advertising.


Role of SEO in reputation management

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key component of online reputation management. By ensuring high rankings for positive content in search results, companies can significantly influence their online presence. For example, Coca-Cola focuses on SEO strategies to ensure that positive stories and corporate citizenship initiatives are prominent in search results. This approach helps maintain a positive online image.


Transitioning to transparency

Transparency is becoming increasingly important in online brand reputation. A Sprout Social survey found that 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever. Patagonia’s “Footprint Chronicles” is an excellent example of using transparency to enhance brand reputation by openly discussing the brand’s environmental impact and steps towards sustainability.


Cost of ignoring reputation management

Ignoring online reputation management can be costly. According to a Moz study, businesses risk losing up to 22% of customers when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of search results. This statistic increases to 59% with three negative articles.


These facts and examples illustrate the complex but crucial nature of managing reputation. Whether through responsive customer service, strategic use of positive content, engaging customer advocates, or enhancing transparency, effective online reputation management can protect a company’s public image, strengthen trust, and contribute to business success.



Common mistakes in online brand reputation management


Ignoring negative reedback

One of the most serious mistakes a brand can make is ignoring negative comments and reviews online. It can create the impression that the company does not care about its customers. A well-known example occurred with a major airline that initially ignored customer complaints on social media about its service. This behavior led to a public relations crisis. The complaints went viral, seriously damaging the airline’s reputation. Timely communication with customers and addressing their concerns can mitigate such risks and demonstrate that the company values people’s feedback.


Inappropriate responses to criticism

Inappropriate or defensive responses to criticism can exacerbate the situation and lead to viral negative public sentiment. One well-known restaurant chain once responded defensively to a negative review on Yelp, mocking the customer’s concerns. The response went viral, sparking widespread negative press coverage. A professional and empathetic approach to handling criticism is crucial for maintaining a positive online reputation.


Neglecting employees’ online behavior

Employees can significantly impact a brand’s online reputation, both positively and negatively. Failing to monitor or guide how employees represent the brand online can lead to incidents that damage reputation. For example, an executive of a major retail company posted insensitive comments on Twitter, which sparked public outrage and reflected poorly on the company. It is important for companies to have clear social media policies and training for all employees to prevent such situations.


Not monitoring all channels

Brands often make the mistake of not checking their reputation across all digital platforms, which can lead to overlooked areas where negative sentiments can accumulate and spread. For instance, a consumer electronics brand focused mainly on Twitter but ignored negative reviews on a popular tech forum. Ultimately, this led to a decline in product sales. Regular monitoring of all relevant platforms, including social media, forums, and review sites, is essential for comprehensive brand reputation management.


Inactivity in creating positive engagement

Another common mistake is inactivity in creating and promoting positive content, which can lead to a dominance of negative content in search results. A small hotel faced this when it did not actively communicate online or encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, allowing a few negative reviews to dominate its online presence. Actively soliciting feedback from satisfied customers and positively engaging with the audience can create a buffer against negative content.


Lack of crisis management planning

Many companies are unprepared for a reputation crisis, leading to chaotic and ineffective responses that exacerbate the situation. For example, a food manufacturing company was caught off guard by a contamination scandal. Its slow and disorganized response led to significant customer distrust and prolonged negative impact on the brand. Having a crisis management plan that includes immediate, coordinated responses across all channels is critical.


Ignoring the role of SEO

Neglecting SEO can allow undesirable content to rank high in search results. One financial company learned this the hard way by ignoring SEO for its positive initiatives, allowing negative articles and customer complaints to occupy top positions in search results. This significantly damaged the public image. Implementing strong SEO practices to promote positive content is crucial.


By being aware of these common mistakes and implementing strategic measures to overcome them, effective online reputation management can protect your brand, enhance customer loyalty and trust, and contribute to business success.



Checklist for managing online brand reputation


Set up monitoring tools

Start by setting up tools to track mentions of your brand across various platforms, including social media, blogs, forums, and review sites. Use tools like Google Alerts, Mention, or Brandwatch to receive real-time updates whenever your brand is mentioned online. This will allow you to keep track of what is being said about the brand at any time.


Regularly interact on social media

Maintain active and professional profiles on social media. Regularly post content that reflects the values and voice of your brand, and interact with the audience. Respond to comments, questions, and issues promptly and politely. Use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to create a positive presence and directly engage with customers.


Respond to reviews

Make it a priority to respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Thank customers who leave positive reviews and constructively and respectfully address any issues raised in negative reviews. Tools like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Trustpilot are critical for managing feedback and improving customer perception.


Encourage positive reviews

Actively encourage satisfied customers to leave positive feedback. This can be done at the point of sale, through follow-up emails, or during support calls. Positive comments not only improve your brand’s image but also help counter any negative feedback.


Create quality content

Develop and distribute quality, valuable content that positions your brand as a thought leader in your industry. This includes blogs, white papers, videos, and infographics. Content marketing can help improve your brand’s SEO, pushing positive content higher in search results.


Respond quickly to negative content

If negative content or a crisis arises, respond quickly and strategically. Assess the situation, create a response plan, and communicate clearly and openly with your audience. Having a crisis management protocol can help mitigate potential damage to your reputation.


Train your team

Ensure that everyone in your organization understands the importance of brand reputation. Conduct training on how to interact with customers online professionally. Employees should know how to maintain the brand’s voice and uphold its values in all communications.


Use SEO to manage online visibility

Implement SEO strategies to increase the visibility of positive content about your brand in search results. This approach involves optimizing your website and content for key keywords, building backlinks, and ensuring a mobile-friendly site.


Regularly review and adapt strategies

Regularly check the effectiveness of your strategies and make adjustments as needed. Analyze metrics from monitoring tools, engagement on social media, review sites, and SEO performance.


Comply with legal and ethical tandards

Ensure all your online activities comply with legal and ethical standards, including copyright compliance, privacy regulations, and maintaining honest communication. Violating these standards can cause more damage to your reputation than any external criticism.


By following this checklist, you can actively manage your brand’s online reputation, effectively respond to potential crises, and foster a positive perception.


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Autor: Julia Monterey
Julia is an expert in Internet marketing with over 10 years of experience. She specializes in attracting clients and increasing sales for small and medium-sized businesses. Her work spans the markets of Europe, Asia, and North America. Julia's extensive background makes her a valuable asset for companies seeking to expand their online presence and boost revenue.
17 min