Temporary confidence and fleeting algorithmic attention won’t safeguard your brand’s true online standing.
To wield control and elevate perception, you must delve deeper than surface-level allure.
Brand reputation management is the art mastered by those who understand that influence and perception are core factors of what matters in business. This was confirmed many times over by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini in his book Influence: The Science of Persuasion.
By molding your brand’s digital image, steering discussions in your favor, and crafting a positive persona, you can create a system that helps future-proof your success.
Yet, the question looms: “How can you truly shine the spotlight on your brand?”
In this post, we uncover three expert strategies for potent brand reputation management that transcend the mere accumulation of likes and shares and work on building brand loyalty (among other things) so your reputation can do its job on autopilot and hopefully propel your business skyward.
Brand reputation management refers to the practice of monitoring and influencing how your brand is perceived by your target audience and the general public.
It involves a variety of strategies and techniques; three of which you will learn below.
These are the top strategies based on this author’s experience and years of research accumulated studying the top brands in the world.
A big part of online business success involves proactively addressing any potential issues or crises that may arise, and when they do, preventing them from damaging your brand’s reputation.
By investing in brand reputation management, you can strengthen your brand’s image, build customer loyalty, and ultimately drive business growth—as long as you continue your consistent efforts.
Online brand reputation management is ongoing. That’s why I’m starting with consistency as the first strategy.
I’m going to share with you a simple strategy for defining brand values and personality that can help your company stand head and shoulders above the rest.
a. Define brand values and personality:
Let me tell you, there are few things more important in the world of business than creating a positive brand reputation. It’s the very essence of your company’s identity, the thing that sets you apart from the competition and makes you memorable to your customers.
First and foremost, you need to understand what your brand values are. These are the guiding principles that shape every decision your company makes. They are the core beliefs and ideals that define who you are and what you stand for.
Take some time to reflect on what truly matters to your company. Is it innovation? Sustainability? Exceptional customer service?
Whatever it may be, make sure your brand values align with your target audience’s values.
Grabbing a firm grip on the above step can help guide your content creation, clarify your image, and drastically improve the audience that begins to follow you more closely.
b. Establish brand guidelines:
It’s hard to overstate the importance of developing brand guidelines for visual elements in building a strong and recognizable brand identity.
Effective brand reputation management starts with establishing consistent visual elements like logos, colors, typography, and imagery.
These elements create a cohesive and memorable brand image that resonates with your target audience. When customers consistently see these visual elements across different platforms and touchpoints, they feel a sense of trust and familiarity, which is essential for brand reputation management.
One way you’ll start to recognize the trust beginning to take shape is through valuable feedback people start to leave in their comments across different social platforms.
As your well-defined brand identity continues to develop, the success of your marketing campaigns will hopefully begin to improve as well.
That’s because consistently conveying your brand’s message and values helps to build a positive brand reputation.
It’s a cycle that can reap enormous benefits or keep you from growth or building trust if you get wrong.
Customer trust is “the” vital component of any successful business.
The rule of 7 in marketing describes this perfectly. It simply states customers must see your ad or brand at least seven times before they will start to trust in what you’re saying.
By establishing and adhering to brand reputation guidelines for visual elements and remembering this rule of seven, you build credibility, customer trust, and effective brand reputation management.
c. Integrate messaging across channels:
Consistently communicating a brand’s message throughout various marketing channels helps you grow a strong and recognizable brand identity.
What I mean is advertising, social media, customer-support interactions, blog posts, and other reputation management efforts all play a significant role in shaping how a target audience perceives a brand.
In advertising, it is essential to ensure that your brand’s message is clear, concise, and aligned with your company’s overall marketing strategy.
Whether it’s through TV commercials, print ads, or online banners, the messaging should be consistent and reflect your brand’s values and unique selling points. This consistency helps to create brand recognition and establishes trust among consumers.
Social media is another powerful platform for delivering a brand’s message. Through social files, social posts, and social media ads, you can engage with your target audience, share valuable content, and promote products or services you know people want.
Many blogs I’ve read leave out “customer support interactions” as part of this strategy.
But, having one rep who loves helping people and another one who doesn’t give the same level of service will negatively affect your brand identity.
Think about how confused you would be if someone in your life changed how they behaved every other day.
It’s exhausting and something you won’t put up with for very long.
Customers can feel the same about your brand. People like consistency (not my opinion).
The way your brand interacts with its customers, whether it’s through phone calls, emails, or live chat, can greatly influence how the brand is perceived.
Blog posts and other reputation management efforts also contribute to the consistent communication of your brand’s message.
By sharing informative and valuable content that aligns with your brand’s values and expertise, you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
But this is just the beginning of a positive brand reputation management plan.
You don’t need a fancy monitoring service. Google gives you everything you need for free.
a. Implement social listening strategies:
Implementing social listening strategies can make it much easier to build a strong online brand presence and connections with customers. That’s because you know exactly when someone isn’t happy, and you can immediately handle it.
Google Alerts and Google Business profiles can provide valuable insights into how your brand is being perceived and help you stay informed about relevant conversations happening online.
1. Set up Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a free tool that allows you to monitor mentions of your brand or specific keywords across the web.
Start by creating alerts for your brand name, product name, and industry-related keywords.
For example: Let’s say you own a fitness brand called “After Burnz Fit.” You can set up alerts for “AfterBurnzFit,” as well as alerts for just “Burnz” or “AfterBurnz.”
This way, whenever someone mentions these keywords online, you’ll receive an email notification. By monitoring these alerts regularly, you can stay updated on what people are saying about your brand and quickly respond to any positive or negative feedback.
2. Connect with customers: Social listening goes beyond monitoring your brand. It also involves actively engaging with customers and participating in relevant conversations.
When you come across discussions related to your industry or products, you can join in and provide helpful insights or answers to questions. For instance, if you notice people discussing the latest fitness trends on social media, you can share your expertise and offer suggestions. By engaging with customers, you not only establish yourself as an authority in your field but you also gently generate meaningful connections that can lead to increased brand loyalty and customer advocacy.
3. Optimize your Google Business Profile: A Google Business Profile helps local businesses up their chances of appearing regularly in search results and permanently in Google Maps.
You want to optimize your profile.
This includes your address, phone number, website URL, and operating hours. You can also use the “Posts” feature on your Google Business Profile to share updates, promotions, and events.
For example, if your gym is offering a limited-time discount on personal training, you can create a post highlighting the offer and include a motivational image. By leveraging your Google Business Profile effectively, you can attract more customers and enhance your online visibility.
Remember these 4 components:
Monitoring conversations, maintaining a strong reputation, engaging with customers, and optimizing your Google Business Profile are four simple steps to a successful online brand-monitoring strategy.
Put another way, stay proactive, responsive, and attentive to customer needs.
Now that we’ve talked about being proactive, let’s move on to the essentials of responding to customers.
b. Respond promptly and engage:
You’ve probably heard this advice:
1. Address customer concerns, questions, and feedback in a timely manner.
2. Engage with customers through personalized responses and show genuine care in solving their issues.
But this is a generic response, which is frankly taking the easy way out.
Wouldn’t you like to know what a good reply really looks like?
Here’s a list of examples and possible responses your employees can give.
The premise here is to not only give a response that answers the customer but also to utilize a conversational exchange so you can learn from it after you respond, whether that’s through another platform or public conversation (a powerful way to build trust) to get feedback on how to fix what they dislike and get better.
Here’s a table with five examples of customer complaints, along with a solution, an engaging response, and a link example that can go to questionnaires customers and leads can fill out to improve your business process:
|Customer complaint||Solution||Engaging response||Questionnaire link|
|Order delays||Improve order processing efficiency to reduce delays.||We apologize for the delay. We’re actively working on streamlining our order process to serve you better. Thank you for your patience!||Order process questionnaire|
|Rude customer service||Conduct regular customer service training to promote better interactions.||We’re sorry to hear about your experience. Providing excellent service is our priority, and we’ll address this with our team. We’re committed to improving your future interactions with us.||Customer service survey|
|Defective products||Implement stricter quality control measures and offer easy returns/exchanges.||Our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience caused. We’ll make sure to review the product rigorously, and we’re happy to assist you with a replacement or refund.||Product quality survey|
|Billing errors||Enhance billing accuracy and offer prompt customer support for resolution.||We understand the frustration, and we’re committed to resolving this promptly. Our billing system is being updated to prevent future errors. Let’s work together to resolve the issue for you.||Billing experience & survey|
|Lack of communication||Improve communication channels and provide regular updates.||We apologize for any communication gaps. Your feedback is valuable, and we’ll work on better ways to keep you informed throughout the process. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.||Communication satisfaction survey|
This is just one example. But, since customers and leads are the lifeblood of your business, you’ll want to put some effort into incorporating this process into your brand and making the feedback experience beneficial for both you and your customers.
c. Gather reviews, insights, and make improvements:
Once you discover what your customers are saying about you, you should regularly analyze the feedback, reviews, and insights gathered from those customers.
Use this information to make informed business decisions, improve products and services, and enhance customer experiences. This can be any process you feel comfortable implementing.
Don’t ignore this step. Brand reputation management doesn’t have to be complicated. The secret really is all about showing people how much you care and using tools or experts to help you do so.
Crisis management is not about running around putting out fires. That’s not how real brand reputation management works.
In today’s digital age, where information spreads rapidly, negative reviews or comments can quickly damage your reputation.
To proactively address such situations, having a crisis management plan in place is ideal. This plan can outline strategies and actions that you and your team can implement to mitigate the impact of a crisis situation involving your company’s online brand reputation.
Let’s talk about how to prepare and implement a plan like this.
a. Prepare a crisis management plan:
Outline protocols, key personnel, and communication strategies to effectively handle potential crises or other negative events.
One key aspect of a crisis management plan is clear steps your employees need to take.
As such, it is important to train and educate employees on how to handle online reviews and comments professionally and empathetically. By empowering employees with the knowledge and skills they need to address customer concerns effectively, your business can minimize the negative impact of any potential crisis.
One of the best things you can see after a customer complaint is a response from the company saying how they will fix it and then an update from the customer, making an adjustment to his or her original complaint.
Regular communication and updates with your employees or virtual assistant regarding the company’s values and brand image are essential to ensure consistency in their responses.
Next up is for you or your team to…
b. Act swiftly and transparently:
In the event of a crisis, respond quickly and transparently.
Address the issue openly, communicate accurate information, and take responsibility if necessary.
Since search engines play a significant role in shaping a company’s online reputation, it’s a good idea to respond appropriately to a complaint before it becomes part of the search engine’s searchable content.
You never want to let a customer or potential customer see a complaint without a personal response.
Complaints are normal. In fact, they’re hard to avoid.
But not responding to your customers is just neglect, and customers know it.
Therefore, it is crucial to monitor search engine results regularly (as we mentioned earlier) and be proactive.
By actively managing search engine optimization efforts, you can help ensure positive content ranks higher, pushing negative content further down the search results. This proactive approach makes it easier for potential customers to find positive information about your brand, reducing the impact of any negative reputation issues.
c. Learn from the crises:
After managing a crisis, conduct a thorough evaluation to learn from the experience. Identify areas for improvement and implement changes to prevent similar situations in the future.
This should be a recurring theme with any problems that uproot the tranquility of your business workflows.
Social media platforms have become a powerful tool for customers to voice their opinions and experiences.
So, use this to your advantage to effectively manage online brand reputation.
That’s why Google Alerts are great. You have an ear to the internet, so you never miss a beat. Add a social media listening strategy to the mix, and people will have a tough time getting anything past you.
There are tons of providers for social listening. Do some research and you’ll find options that can meet your needs.
The biggest takeaway from this section is to have a plan. Execute the plan. Then, if you notice it’s not working, you can adjust.
Let’s keep it simple—but effective.
Having a bad brand reputation is like getting hurt and having to go through rehabilitation. It’s hard as all heck to get back to 100%, and when you do it’s never quite the same.
So, brand reputation management on a deeper level (beyond just likes and shares) happens best with a strategy that’s done on the offensive (aka proactively).
When you’re the one shaping the perception of your brand for your target audience and customers, you’re in control of what you pay attention to, not trying to put out fires in five different places.
But, if you find yourself in that situation, it’s always nice to have an expert like ReputationDefender to help pick up the slack when you need it.
For right now, try and remember these three expert strategies:
- Consistent identity and brand messaging
- Proactive monitoring and engagement
- Crisis management and communication
These can be some of the most effective ways you build more trust, encourage feedback from customers, and help establish a better brand reputation image.
If you need professional help, get started by grabbing your free online reputation report card. This report will provide valuable insights into your brand’s current online reputation and can offer a clear next step in crafting an effective reputation management strategy. Then, talk to a ReputationDefender ORM expert about what they can do.
This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.