Online Brand Reputation Management: The Beginner’s Guide
Imagine for a moment that you and your friends are planning to grab lunch together. As you each begin to suggest restaurants, you throw out the name of a new Italian restaurant down the street.
You’re quite surprised as your suggestion is met by a negative reaction from one friend in particular.
“I don’t know,” they say. “I’ve heard some pretty bad stuff about that place. Let’s grab Mexican instead.”
That’s how easy it is for word of mouth to influence customer decisions. Your brand’s reputation is going to have a massive impact on your business’ success.
In fact, almost 90% of your customers will look into your business before making a purchasing decision.
From establishing your online branding to monitoring your reputation in real time to dealing with negative reviews and so much more, here are a few brand reputation management tips for beginners.
What Constitutes Brand Reputation Management And Why Does It Matter?
If you’re brand new to the world of online marketing, you may find yourself wondering, ‘What is reputation? And for that matter, is it even important?’
Let’s start by analyzing the first question.
Generally speaking, we can surmise that your brand’s reputation is the overall public perception that customers — current, former, and possibly future — have about your brand.
Every business, no matter how large or narrow its focus, has a reputation of some sort. This reputation is influenced by every encounter you have with customers, both in person and online.
Are you starting to see why your reputation matters more than you may think?
Plenty of business owners make the mistake of thinking that one negative review or poor customer interaction won’t have an effect on their brand. On the contrary, the opinions of your customers matter quite a bit.
Think back to the example in the introduction of this article. It didn’t take much to convince your group of friends to switch restaurants.
Reputation functions in the same way in everyday life. If you’re not careful, you could lose out on a whole lot of business.
Understanding The Conversation Surrounding Your Business
So it’s clear now that reputation matters. But coming up with a business reputation management strategy can be quite the challenge.
Start by assessing the current conversation surrounding your business. And make no mistake, there’s a high likelihood that people are discussing your business, even if you’re a small, one-person operation.
The easiest way to see where people are talking about your brand online is to up a Google Alerts page for your brand. This great, free tool allows you to keep track of who is saying what about your business and where they’re saying it.
For instance, let’s say that someone is asking for a business recommendation via your city’s Facebook page. A loyal customer then comes in and mentions your business.
If you’ve set up a Google Alerts page, you’ll receive a notification almost instantly.
The customer won’t even need to tag your brand, either. As long as you’ve set your brand’s name, you’ll get notified.
Then, you can swoop in and talk to the customer yourself. Lead generation can be that easy!
And since Google Alerts covers more or less the entire Internet, you’ll get notifications on review sites, as well, so you can monitor conversations about your brand all across the web.
Steps To Improve Or Repair Your Reputation
Now that you understand why brand reputation matters and can easily discover conversations about your business, let’s talk about a few more ways that you can easily improve your reputation management strategy.
Embrace Negative Reviews
Reviews are a staple of reputation management and your customers are undoubtedly going to rely on them during their research.
It’s understandable that you may worry about negative reviews. No one likes to see a negative review of their business. It can be hurtful and may even make you rethink your business’ operations.
But don’t give up. Instead, embrace all reviews equally. There’s a ton you can learn in your customer’s feedback. In fact, a negative review is often as helpful as a positive review.
When a customer leaves a bad review, you have two options.
First, you can go nuclear. You can try and delete the review (which will cause a bigger problem) or you can unload on the customer.
We can’t state this enough: Never choose this path, it never ends well.
Instead, take a deep breath, read the review, and reach out to the customer. Most review sites let businesses respond to reviews.
Talk to the customer and ask what you can do to make things right. Not only will you have the chance to earn back a customer, but future readers will see your response and appreciate your willingness to fix your mistakes.
Sometimes a negative review isn’t written from a place of malice or anger. There are occasions a customer genuinely feels wronged by your business.
Even so, you still have the opportunity to set things right again.
Once you’re finished responding to the customer, think of ways you can incorporate their feedback and improve your business. The customer may not always be right but sometimes they have some pretty good ideas.
Ask For Help If You Need It
In an age dominated by social media, review sites and the need for constantly updated websites, monitoring your brand’s reputation can feel a lot like spinning a dozen plates at once.
Yet each element is important to maintaining and improving upon your brand’s reputation.
If you’re struggling, consider outsourcing your marketing needs to a marketing firm that specializes in reputation management. That way you can spend more time on your business while still growing your brand.
Keep Your Reputation Spotless With This Guide
As you can see, a whole lot goes into maintaining your brand’s reputation. But those who take the time to invest in a solid brand reputation management strategy are often richly rewarded with great reviews and a booming business.
Want to grow your business? Reach out today and ask how professional monitoring services can help your local brand attract more attention.