How to protect your brand reputation in the social media minefield?
May 24, 20238 min read
Imagine you’re scrolling through your social media feed and come across a post from a friend. They're going off about a brand that totally let them down. Before you know it, your entire timeline is flooded with similar posts from your other contacts talking about their frustrating experiences with the same brand.
You're taken aback by the sheer number of negative posts about the brand in question. You start to wonder if you've ever had a bad experience with them yourself. And just like that, your perception of the brand begins to shift.
This scenario isn’t uncommon — in fact, it's a perfect example of how brand reputation is all about how customers perceive a business. Even if a brand possesses the best products, customer service and marketing, one negative experience can quickly turn the tide and harm its reputation.
What’s the deal with brand reputation management?
Brand reputation management is all about keeping an eye on how people see your brand, and taking action to influence and maintain that perception. This involves using different strategies and techniques to build a positive image for your brand, and being prepared to handle any challenges or crises that may come up along the way.
Your brand should take reputation management seriously and actively work on maintaining a positive image. Even if you enjoy a good reputation, you can't rest on your laurels for long. You need to be vigilant about addressing any issues that may arise. This means acting as detectives, superheroes and social butterflies all at once by:
Monitoring your online presence to detect any negative comments, reviews or feedback that could impact your reputation. Identify the issue, investigate its source, collect evidence and develop a plan to address and resolve it.
Being alert and ready to take action when you’re faced with challenges such as responding to negative comments, addressing PR crises or mitigating social media mishaps. And utilizing your strengths to turn the situation around to protect your online and offline reputation.
Actively engaging with customers to cultivate long-lasting relationships and generate a positive buzz around the brand. This involves being authentic in communication and connecting with the audience in a way that resonates with them.
All in all, your brand reputation is not something you can leave to chance. It's the foundation of your business's success and can make or break your bond with customers, prospects and the world. 63% of a business’s market value is attributable to its brand reputation.
So how do you ensure your customers perceive your brand in the best possible light and continue to do business with you for years to come?
Research shows that 82% of consumers prefer to buy from brands whose values align with theirs. In addition, a brand's messaging and actions should also be in line with its own values. It creates a sense of distrust among customers if it isn’t, leading them to question the brand’s authenticity, potentially damaging its reputation in the process.
If you’re looking to enhance your reputation and deliver great customer experiences, you should balance brand authenticity and governance with care.
Brand authenticity: The degree to which a brand is perceived as genuine and transparent in its communications and actions with its audience.
Brand governance: A system of policies, processes and controls that ensure consistent brand identity, messaging and quality across all brand touchpoints.
To get a better idea of the impact of brand values on reputation and crisis management, let’s talk about a leading European bank introduced new brand values to rebuild its brand reputation.
A remarkable turnaround
During the global financial crisis, a well-known bank faced accusations of manipulating key interest rates, resulting in a significant decline in public trust compared to its competitors.
But you know what? The bank didn't just sit around and hope that public perception would magically change over time. It realized major changes were in order and took action.
The institution established a new brand purpose centered on helping people achieve their objectives the right way, along with five supporting brand values, including employee respect and support for sustainability programs and communities. It trained a whopping 140,000 employees to make sure everyone was on the same page. All this hard work actually changed the company culture for the better.
The bank had purpose programs with 17,000 employees dedicated to teaching the public about navigating the digital world. The brand switched its communication strategy by sharing stories about real people and their higher-purpose initiatives.
Eventually, the public began to view the bank in a positive light. As a result, trust in the bank increased by 33%, consideration for their services saw a massive surge of 130%, and people's emotional connection with the bank grew by 35%.
The new brand equity
The pandemic really compounded the issues of economic insecurity, health and financial inequalities and systemic racism. Brands that actually take a stand and do something about these issues see a significant increase in public trust.
An Edelman Trust Barometer report states that trust drives growth and retention. So brands might actually risk losing the trust of their customers if they fail to make a positive difference.
Source: Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer Report
Simple measures to minimize huge risks
We live in a world where you can find information on anything with just a few clicks. But sometimes it's hard to tell if those details are really true or not. And if brands don’t pay attention to what’s being said about them online, they could end up in a big mess.
Here are the most important (and easy!) measures that you can follow to reduce reputational risks for your brand.
Define what your brand stands for and make sure that everyone in your organization understands and follows the same principles to prevent unethical behavior
Ensure your brand looks and sounds the same on all mediums so that it's recognizable and familiar to consumers
Practice proactive customer communication before and after an issue to promote confidence and trust
Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential reputational damages, such as product quality issues, cyber attacks, data breaches and environmental issues
Create comprehensive crisis management plans to enable timely responses, consistent messaging and efficient use of resources
Experiment with your crisis response plans to see what works the best for your brand
Train employees to meet various compliance standards at any given situation
Perform due diligence before partnering with a third-party agency or vendor to maintain the quality of your brand experience
Engage with customers online, monitor their feedback and respond appropriately and promptly to prevent any negative consequences. Set up alerts and notifications to keep track of mentions, products and services online.
Empower employees to respond professionally and promptly by creating guidelines for responding to negative feedback
Be clear and honest in your communication about products, services and business practices. Own up to your mistakes and provide accurate and timely information
How to ensure the safety of your brand reputation?
Navigating the ever-evolving landscape of digital and social media channels can be quite challenging when it comes to managing a brand online. With the proliferation of content and the potential risks associated with brand safety, it's vital for businesses to find effective ways to cut through the clutter of reputational damages and ensure the brand is protected.
Let's take a closer look at how your brand can achieve online reputation goals.
Understand customer sentiment
If you want to protect your brand reputation, it's crucial to keep tabs on what customers are saying about your products or services. One of the best ways to do this is through social listening, which involves tracking mentions of your brand across social media, online forums, and other digital channels.
With the help of social listening tools, you can identify trends, predict customer sentiment, and gain valuable insights into what the market wants. With this information, you can improve your brand strategy, develop better products, and make informed decisions that will enhance the overall customer experience and drive your business forward.
Analyze your audience engagement
To maximize the impact of your marketing efforts, it's important to get real-time insights into how your audience engages with your content and brand. You can leverage social media analytics to gain valuable real-time insights into campaign performance.
Social listening platforms offer a wealth of data on how users engage with your content, such as likes, shares, comments and click-through rates. Analyzing this data in real-time allows you to determine what content resonates with your audience and fine-tune your engagement strategy accordingly..
Moderate your content regularly
By vetting your content before it goes live, you can be assured that your brand messaging and user-generated content are appropriate, respectful and aligned with your brand guidelines. This practice also prevents harmful content from being shared and limits the spread of negative comments or reviews online. You are more likely to be trusted by the public if you’re diligent about the content you put out.
Take reviews seriously
Did you know that a whopping 72% of unhappy customers expect you to respond to their comments online with empathy and assistance?
So make sure you respond to all reviews, regardless of sentiment. A sound review management strategy can help you address negative (and fake) reviews and highlight positive ones to build a positive brand image. Encourage customers to leave reviews through email campaigns, social media promotions and incentivized programs. But ensure that these efforts are transparent and comply with review platforms' guidelines.
Focus on compliance and governance
It’s crucial to maintain brand compliance across all marketing activities, especially when targeting different regions and audiences. It's vital to ensure that all content distributed is on-brand and compliant, whether it's brand campaigns, digital marketing, earned media or any other form of content.
You could start with having standardized briefs and content templates for various channels and streamline the content approval process. This will reduce the risk of any inconsistencies that can harm your brand's reputation.
Know your competition
Staying up-to-date on your competitors' activities and industry trends can give you an edge in the market. Monitor high-impact activities across channels and compare your audience's behavior to that of your competitors’. Use this information to differentiate your brand and stay ahead of the competition.
In today's world, social media can make or break a brand's reputation. It's easy for brands to overlook the after effects of online reviews and posts, but the truth is, they hold a lot of weight.
Even if you've never had a bad experience with a brand, getting one negative feedback from a friend can change your opinion of the brand within a second.
So if you're running a business or marketing a brand, never underestimate the power of perception. Now that you've got a good idea of the strategies and tools available to monitor and protect your brand online, it's important to remember that managing reputation is an ongoing process. Staying alert and adjusting your approach as necessary can go a long way in building a loyal customer base that trusts and advocates your brand.
Also, there's so much more you can learn about brand safety, and how a unified brand reputation management solution can safeguard your brand. So, keep exploring and stay proactive in protecting your brand's online image. You've got this!