A Guide to Online Reputation Management for Your Business
Table of Contents
What You Will Learn in This Article:
- What online reputation management is.
- Why reputation management matters for your small business.
- How to build up a positive brand reputation online.
- How to manage negative reviews online.
- How to collect and display social proof as part of your reputation management strategy.
- Best practices for reputation management on:
- Your own website
- Search engines
- Social media and YouTube
- Forums and industry sites
- Third-party websites and media outlets
- How to leverage brand reputation to grow your business.
A Brief Introduction to Reputation Management
For modern customers, there are so many choices for every purchase they want to make. A quick online search for any service will yield dozens, if not hundreds, of results.
So when shopping online, many customers look for reviews of the company and its products. Online reputation management allows companies to understand what information is out there and how to make sure it paints the company in the best light.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
The process of online reputation management involves actively monitoring what people say about a brand or company, then highlighting and sharing the good impressions while acknowledging, addressing, and correcting the negative ones. This can include responding to negative reviews or comments, creating positive marketing content about your business, and carefully addressing false or malicious information circulating online.
It’s easy to see how other people and websites can affect your online reputation, but it may be less obvious to see what you can do about it. You don’t have the power to delete every bad review out there, and you can’t make people write nicer things. The solution is to be proactive with online reputation management while continuing to build your brand.
There are five main areas to focus on when managing your online reputation:
- Third-party review sites
- Social media
- Online forums
- Blogs and other websites
Third-Party Review Sites
Many of your company’s reviews, both good and bad, will be posted on third-party sites that have nothing to do with your company. These are services such as Yelp and Google Reviews that aggregate business listings and serve them to users searching for a certain type of company, service, or product.
Because these companies are often the first point of connection between a user and your business, users will return to them to leave a rating and review for their interaction with you. Check these sites often to make sure there aren’t any unaddressed reviews or comments to which you need to respond.
When there are bad reviews or complaints for your business on these sites, it is a good idea to address the problem and show your customers that you always work to make things right. Likewise, as mentioned above, occasionally respond to positive comments with gratitude and grace.
YouTube has emerged as a top source for people seeking information about a company, product, or service. Reviews make up the largest category of videos that are viewed on YouTube, and these videos can give a big boost to products and brands that get high marks from independent reviewers.
Creators can make videos about every part of their interaction with your brand, including the ease of use of your website, the buying process, shipping and delivery, packaging and unboxing, and their experience using your products.
In this way, a video can inspire a lot of trust because the audience can see visual proof of how the product looks and works in the real world. This adds weight to the words and opinions they hear from the reviewer.
This can be a double-edged sword, however. When a video review paints your company in a negative light, it’s much harder to overcome.
Monitoring YouTube and other video platforms carefully is part of effective online reputation management. Once again, any negative reviews should be thoughtfully responded to. If the video contains falsehoods or misinformation, you may also consider reporting the content to see if it can be removed.
Social Media Posts
At this point, social media has become ubiquitous. Users have become accustomed to posting their experiences as consumers on their preferred social media channels, and audiences have likewise become used to seeing these reviews in their feed.
Regardless of length– whether a tweet or longer Facebook post– and regardless of medium (written, video, photo), social posts have an air of social authority and persuasiveness that few other mediums possess. In fact, in 2022, Brightlocal found that 49% of people trust these types of reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Much like YouTube, social media gains power from authenticity, as well as the use of pictures and videos. Potential customers tend to trust independently written opinions that include visual evidence of the benefits and drawbacks of a product.
Some people will also leave reviews on a company’s social media page or write a review and tag the business page’s handle in the post. Brands must react carefully, since social media interactions are highly visible and easily shareable. Several companies have ended up in the headlines for mishandling interactions with social media users.
A good online reputation management strategy for social media is to always speak positively and genuinely when talking with customers. You can flag malicious or blatantly false information, but avoid arguments and abrasiveness that the rest of your audience will see in comment sections.
Note that it can make your company look unresponsive if you ignore social media comments and tags or take too long to respond. Another study found that more than half of consumers expect businesses to respond to reviews within a week.
Online forums can have a significant impact on a brand's reputation, both positive and negative.
On the positive side, forums can provide a platform for customers to share their experiences with a company and recommend it to others. This can help to build positive buzz and increase the brand's reputation.
On the other hand, if a product or service is the subject of negative reviews or complaints on forums, it can damage the brand's reputation and lead to a decline in customer trust and loyalty.
It is important for brands to monitor what is being said about them on forums and to respond to any negative comments or reviews in a timely and appropriate manner. This can help to mitigate any potential damage to the brand's reputation and show customers that the brand is committed to addressing their concerns.
You can also use forums as an opportunity to engage with your customers, gathering valuable feedback and insights that can help to improve your company’s products and services. Forums are often platforms for people who are very well-versed in a certain market segment or product category.
Since this audience has a relatively high level of knowledge, you engage with this audience on a deeper, more focused level than other shoppers.
Blogs and Other Websites
Outside of the aforementioned venues and platforms, there is a wide world of content creators and writers who may mention your company or product.
Sometimes a person may use your product and feel inspired to write a one-off review of how it worked for them. Others may have their own dedicated blogs for a certain product category or market segment, making what you offer specifically relevant to them and their followers.
These mentions can be helpful to your SEO, especially if the blogger has a good reputation and links to your site or product. There is also a negative risk if an authoritative voice in a certain space has bad things to say about you.
Track these mentions and foster a positive relationship with these influencers as a part of your online reputation management strategy.
Is Online Reputation Management Important for a Small Business?
Yes, online reputation management gives businesses a chance to better manage and control their organic search rankings, and what is being said about them while addressing any negative or untruthful comments. Reputation management is the science of creating the best first impression of your brand online for prospective buyers.
Thanks to the way commerce has evolved, the internet plays a large role in the purchasing decisions many people make. When searching for a product or brand, the first stop for most customers is a search engine. Before someone buys something or hires a company for a service, that consumer will try to gather enough information to make an informed decision.
A search engine query of a certain business or product will usually produce many results, including reviews and mentions of the company on third-party websites. Potential customers use these results to see what other consumers and professionals have to say about a business and judge whether to keep looking into that brand or move on.
After forming a first impression of your company’s reputation from the information they encounter on the search engine results page (SERP), the next stop is usually your company’s website.
The user will try to get a feel for what the business offers and what kind of pricing it uses. Many people will also look for evidence that the company does a good job at whatever it promises.
There are four important areas to take into account with online reputation management:
- Social media
- Positive impressions
- Negative reviews
Social media has also changed the way businesses build their online reputations. People don’t have to go to review sites or your website to make their thoughts known. Instead, they can share reviews and opinions directly on social media. Many content creators have turned this into a business, with video channels and blogs that review companies and products.
You can use a social listening tool to monitor these posts, so you know what kind of impression your company creates. Since a social media post or video can unexpectedly gain a lot of attention and a big audience, any misconceptions in this content could spread far and fast, taking away your power to shape your brand.
On the upside, monitoring posts that mention your brand allows you to interact when customers give you a good review or mention. Make time to do this. Thanking people for their kind words when they speak well of your company is a great way to connect with customers and turn them into repeat buyers. Even simply liking and sharing a post is an excellent way to increase visibility and boost your positive reputation.
Positive reviews have a lot of value because they show that your business really made an impact on a person. It takes effort for a person to go out of their way to come back to a company’s website or a review site and write about their experience, so seeing genuine positive reviews makes potential customers believe that they will be working with a company that delivers well.
It’s important to remember that these reviews must be genuine. If readers believe that you have prompted or created the reviews or comments, these readers are likely to ignore the information in the review, no matter how accurate or positive it may be.
In addition, full reviews are more likely to influence customers than just star ratings. Customers that are looking at reviews and testimonials typically want contextual information about a product before they make a purchase. Simple star ratings, even high ones, don’t offer that and are not as useful for the audience.
Most business owners would like to think any external reviews of their products and services are positive. It would be wonderful if every link led to stories of people who found the perfect product that fulfilled their needs in just the right way.
Many of these kinds of impressions do exist. Every company with quality products has faithful, enthusiastic, satisfied customers. Reviews from your brand’s “biggest fans” are wonderful to have in the world of online reputation management.
Reviews for your business can also be negative. This isn’t a fun possibility to consider, but it does happen and can have an effect on your business. When customers find negative reviews, they read them to see if there is helpful information that can prevent them from making a mistake.
Sometimes a negative review is a reflection on the reviewer, who may admit to not using a product as instructed or not doing proper research on what they were purchasing. Many savvy consumers can see through these types of problems and will still give your company a chance.
There is a bigger concern when a review alleges that a service or product did not meet expectations, causing the customer to waste money or feel dissatisfied. These kinds of reviews can happen for a variety of reasons, of which your company may bear all or some of the responsibility.
Regardless of the source of dissatisfaction, oftentimes, in the customer’s eye, your brand will “own” the mistake. In these moments, it’s very helpful to have an online reputation management strategy to address the concerns and help protect your brand.
With the right approach, a negative review can ultimately be a net positive for your brand and reputation. Make it part of your strategy to respond quickly and empathetically to negative reviews. Solve the customer’s problem and explain the resolution.
This will reassure other buyers that if they should happen to experience an issue with their purchase, you will treat them fairly and make things right. Shoppers understand that no company is perfect; your response to negative reviews is an opportunity to build trust and bolster your reputation as an ethical company.
Ultimately, managing your reputation online is about building and protecting the trust your customers have for your brand.
A Zendesk survey found that 90% of consumer buying decisions are influenced by what they read online.
You have worked hard to let people know that you are an expert in your field, creating valuable solutions and quality products. Testimonials and anecdotes that either support or contradict the reputation you have built for your company can sway prospective clients, impacting your conversion rates, revenue, and bottom line.
Also, don’t forget that prospective customers aren’t the only ones reading reviews and monitoring your reputation. Google and other search engines are also indexing mentions of your company and website, using the information they find to rank your site in search results.
A higher number of negative impressions on the web can hurt your SEO ranking, making it harder for people to find you when they search for a product or service that you offer.
How Does Reputation Management Help a Business?
Earning more positive reviews can be a big benefit. Search engines and shopping sites want to give users the most useful results as quickly as possible, so they use reviews and ratings to decide if your business listing is worth showing to shoppers. The better your reputation, the easier it is to rank closer to the top of search results.
Improving your seller ratings and fostering a good reputation online increases trust in your business. This can help boost your search engine ranking, which can increase traffic to your site and conversions once shoppers arrive, which will increase revenue for your business.
Products that have many positive reviews and demonstrations online are easier to sell. Customers feel more comfortable when they don’t have to take only the company’s word that a product works well or that a service is worth the time and money. Social proof like reviews and testimonials show that a purchase worked for other people in the real world.
Thoughtful responses to negative reviews can also help your business. You can show that your company is responsive, cares about the work it does, and is willing to resolve problems. This can improve the overall impression of your brand, letting future customers know that you are paying attention and invested in creating positive outcomes for every buyer.
When people have more trust and esteem for your brand, they are more likely to make a purchase, become repeat customers, and recommend your brand to other people. All of this has a positive effect on your sales, revenue, and growth.
Are There Ways To Improve Your Online Reputation?
There are several ways to use online reputation management to improve the way people see you. Every business should collect reviews and testimonials. Share the positive reviews, address concerns and issues in the negative ones, and take advantage of positive words from trusted authorities in your industry. Doing these things enhances your brand’s image with the public.
If you do feel like you need to improve your company’s reputation online, take a bit of time to do an assessment of your brand’s reputation and put some thought into a well-rounded strategy for improvement.
A newer company may find that they are relatively unknown and don’t have much of a reputation yet, so that company needs to focus on courting positive attention. Meanwhile, a more established business could be working to protect or enhance its reputation or bounce back from a problem that casts it in a negative light.
Variation on the same methods can help both new and established brands manage their online reputation.
- Collect ratings, reviews, and other forms of social proof and display them across the web.
- Create content, such as Q&A lists that will help your audience and establish your leadership in your market.
- Leverage “borrowed authority” to stand out; this can include both expert reviews, as well as customer testimonials like video reviews, which other shoppers see as authoritative.
Collect and Display Social Proof
Social proof is a form of influence that occurs when people look to others for guidance on how to behave in a given situation. It is a way for people to determine how to proceed in a situation based on the actions of others. This includes purchasing decisions.
There are a variety of ways to collect social proof. One of the most common forms of social proof is customer reviews. By collecting positive reviews from customers, a business can show potential customers that others have had good experiences with its products or services.
Testimonials from satisfied customers can be another powerful form of social proof. These can be in the form of written statements, video testimonials, or other types of media and user-generated content (UGC).
The number of followers a brand or business has on social media can also show how much people trust the company, since a high follower count suggests that others are supportive of the brand.
Displaying the number of customers a business has served can help accomplish the same thing. It is proof of how many people have gone beyond the research and discovery phase of their buyer’s journey to actually make a purchase from you.
Businesses often use social media influencers to bolster both social proof and their online reputation. When influencers support a brand, their reputation is also on the line, so many will be selective about working with a brand. Therefore, when influencers endorse a brand or product, it’s a show of support that rings as authentic.
Answer the Customer’s Questions
One of the best ways to build your company’s reputation is to make yourself useful to shoppers and searchers and answer questions they may have about your product or service.
Start by building a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) or question and answer (Q&A) section on your website. In this way, you can address any concerns shoppers may have before they even have to ask. Making it easy to find and share this information improves your reputation as a transparent company.
This is another area where responding to negative reviews and comments is important. Sometimes, a negative review on social media or a third-party site starts with a misunderstanding or unanswered question. When these come up, get ahead of the situation by acknowledging the problem your customer is having and walking them through the solution so they can have the best experience with your product. You can go the extra mile by showing that you have added the question to your FAQ page to help future customers solve the same problem.
Not all customer questions are negative. Sometimes you will have a question that offers the chance to make another sale. If you sell bicycles on your website, and a buyer asks if you offer accessories or repair parts for the unit, a quick response that includes links to relevant products can make it easy for them to buy more from you. This also shows other customers additional products they may be interested in buying.
Leverage Borrowed Authority
Borrowed authority is a marketing technique that involves using the credibility and reputation of a third party to promote a product or service. This can be an effective strategy for a brand that is trying to improve online trust and credibility with its target audience, particularly if the third party is well-respected and trusted within the industry or community.
Partnering with a well-known brand or influencer can help a brand borrow some of the credibility and reputation of that partner. This can be especially effective if the partner has established a good following and is known for honest reviews and opinions that are helpful.
If a brand has been featured in the media or has won awards, it can use these mentions or awards as a way to demonstrate its credibility and reputation. If a top YouTube review channel or a trusted news site includes your company’s product on a list of top ten products of the year, find a way to show that to potential customers.
Don’t overlook high ratings for your products and services on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Google and other sites where people leave reviews. Studies show that consumers trust reviews and see them as authoritative, especially those that have been verified as real by third party services like those mentioned, or Shopper Approved.
By leveraging borrowed authority, your brand can build trust and credibility with its target audience and improve its chances of making a sale.
How Do You Collect and Display Social Proof to Improve Your Reputation?
To use social proof in your online reputation management efforts, monitor the internet and aggregate any mentions of your company or product. Many sites make it possible to embed reviews from their page onto your website and social media. You can also use a review company to make it easy for users to leave reviews and testimonials on your website.
Finding positive social proof for your marketing team to use should be a priority for your online reputation management team. As they watch the web for mentions of the company that need correcting, they should also watch for positive mentions to collect and republish.
Social Media Posts
Social media posts are some of the easiest forms of social proof to leverage. You can easily share or repost another user’s post on your own feed, showing your audience that other people had a positive experience with your business.
Make sure to take advantage of positive social media mentions by thanking and crediting the initial poster when you share their review.
Testimonials from real users can be a powerful influence to help shoppers trust your company. On your website, your goal should be to make it easy for anyone who wants to leave a review to do just that.
Allow the person to specify what they purchased, give a star rating, and write a review about their experience. Work with your web designer to display these reviews in a strategic place on your website.
Video reviews are also good user-generated content. Since video allows users to show themselves using the product, these testimonials can be compelling messages for potential buyers.
To get testimonials, do an email campaign that follows up with recent customers. A week after someone completes the checkout process, send them an email asking if they would like to leave a review or testimonial.
Professional mentions of your product can also be a part of online reputation management. Create a special page on your website and collect links to mentions about your products in the press, on blog pages, and on popular industry websites.
You can also reach out to the people running those publications and see if a partnership or sponsorship makes sense for the two businesses. You can give an influencer who has enjoyed your product the chance to offer a discount to their users, making the influencer look good and generating increased sales for you.
Can You Protect and Grow Your Company With Online Reputation Management?
Consumers use ratings and reviews, social posts, and other online content to make judgments about your business. An online reputation management strategy is important to make sure that the information shoppers find about your business online is truthful, relevant, and timely. This protects your brand image while raising your profile and generating traffic to your website.
An investment in online reputation management will pay off by giving you more credibility and trust with your desired target market. When you address the bad and highlight the good, you begin to build a relationship with the audience that can bolster your business and help you gain standing in your market.
Online reputation management is the process of monitoring and influencing an individual or organization's reputation on the internet. It involves monitoring, identifying, and mitigating negative content, as well as promoting positive content to enhance a brand's image. The goal of reputation management is to improve or maintain a positive online presence and protect against potential harm to reputation caused by negative content.
Managing your website’s online reputation is an important part of your marketing and PR strategy. But that doesn’t mean it has to be an overwhelming, time-consuming task.
By doing these few fundamental things, you can build a positive image for your brand that contributes to business growth.
- Foster a positive brand image through transparent and ethical practices.
- Monitor online reviews and comments.
- Respond to negative reviews and feedback professionally.
- Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.
- Stay active and engaged with customers on social media.
- Create and publish high-quality, helpful content on your website and social media.
- Use reputation management tools to monitor and address any issues.
How Shopper Approved Can Help with Reputation Management:
Shopper Approved’s Review Destinations tool allows you to both maintain and improve your online reputation by sending a portion of your verified customers to leave reviews on review platforms across the internet.
And because we collect up to ten times more reviews than others, the volume of new, positive, verified reviews will naturally improve your overall rating, leaving you with a positive star rating in more places across the web.
More positive reviews in more places creates more trust and higher conversion rates.
In this way, you can manage your online reputation while also improving brand visibility.
When you have more positive reviews and a high average star rating, this in turn will build more trust in your brand, and when you combine more visibility with more trust, you will see more traffic.
When people have more trust in your brand, they will convert at a higher rate, because people buy from brands they trust.
Learn about Shopper Approved’s Traffic & Conversion Suite and see how all our solutions work together to improve your reputation and help grow your business.
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