How should brands manage their online reputation

Ishita Nigam

July 17, 202311 min read

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Richard Branson once famously remarked, "Your brand name is only as good as your reputation." As it turns out, brands don't take any chances when it comes to their reputation, especially online reputation, which for the most part is pretty fragile in today's social media-saturated world.

That's the reason Yelp always responds to customer reviews, particularly the bad ones. Nike, too, is rather quick in addressing negative tweets.

Also, do you remember the time when a customer asked Chewy, a pet food and grooming supplies company, if they "could return an unopened bag of my dog's food after he died"? Not only did the company issue a refund, but it also sent flowers and a heartfelt condolence message to the grieving customer.

A social post by a Chewy customer lavishing praise on Chewy for its excellent customer service.

Thousands of people who had lost their pets applauded the gesture. And thousands more flocked to the brand for its products.

Social media has given everyone a voice. While it helps companies connect with customers and establish a rapport with them, it can also jeopardize the brand image.

That’s why knowing how to build and manage your online brand reputation is critical to the success of your brand.

Table of Contents

What is online brand reputation?

Online brand reputation refers to how your audience perceives your brand online, especially on social media platforms. This audience could include your customers, competitors and stakeholders who follow your brand activities on social media channels.

Reputation 01 (1)

In essence, online brand reputation refers to the image your organization projects on the internet, and it requires considerable effort to establish a positive reputation especially if your brand is new.

Why creating an online brand reputation matters

Did you know American consumers pay up to 17% more to buy from a brand with a great reputation?

Your online reputation is like your resume. Customers look you up online first before stepping into your store or making a purchase on your website.

In case you aren't aware, a company's reputation accounts for 63% of its market value on average. A strong online reputation helps you fight incorrect user-generated content, fake news and reviews about your brand. A good reputation also allows you to forge a stronger bond with your customer.

For instance, a few years back, Apple decided to use X, formerly Twitter to offer quicker customer service than the traditional route, which took up to 17 hours to respond to a customer. Since the launch of Apple Support on X, formerly Twitter in March 2016, it managed to gather over 150,000 likes and retweets for outstanding customer service in the US along with strengthening its online brand reputation.

A video tweet by Apple Support with a useful tip about the Calculator app on the iPhone.

Makes you wonder how to build a strong online brand reputation, right? Here's what you need to do.

4 steps to building your online brand reputation

Follow these four steps to level up your online brand reputation.

Step 1: Optimize your website

Your website should be optimized to boost visibility. You can include essential keywords (based on the most popular search terms in your domain) and engaging content to attract your target audience and build a top-notch brand reputation.

Step 2: Leverage social media

Creating relevant social media content, posting consistently and engaging with your audience will do the trick as well raising your social media cred.

Step 3: Quick response to online reviews and comments

If you’re not quick enough, you may lose customers who engage with your brand online. Particularly, negative reviews left unresolved can result in your brand receiving flak from customers.

Step 4: Use automation tools to manage online reputation

A robust online reputation management tool can help you capture the audience sentiment around your brand in real time.

A chart with Time of Day on the X-axis and Number of Comments on the Y-axis indicates that most comments occur between 5 and 6pm. Furthermore, this hour also witnesses the highest number of distinct users who have made those comments.

If you find creating an online brand reputation challenging, managing it can seem herculean. But, worry not, we've got you covered.

Also Read: 6 common social media publishing challenges (and how to overcome them)

8 ways to manage your online brand reputation

Here are a few tips to help you manage and oversee your online online brand reputation better.

1. Have a strong online customer service portal

Give your customers a place to vent. It's better to have your own platform than your X, formerly Twitter account to handle your customers' issues. But your job isn’t done once the platform is launched. You need to ensure it functions smoothly and every customer issue is resolved quickly.

2. Watch out for customer feedback on all channels

The customer service platform mentioned above is an excellent means, but not the only one. Your customers will reach out using various channels, like social media, emails or WhatsApp. The trick to effective reputation management is to respond promptly to customer issues on all these channels.

A collage of customer comments from three popular sources namely Google reviews, Twitter and Facebook.

3. Create eye-catching and brand-positive content

To connect with your customers at a deeper level, you should strive to make your content more human. Be it blog articles, explainer videos, infographics or any other marketing collateral for that matter. The content should be positive and help spark a healthy dialog among the audience.

4. Be SEO-friendly

Targeted keywords, well-timed posts, consistency and quality of content determine a brand’s SEO-friendliness. It plays a matchmaker to the customer who has a problem, connecting them with a brand that has the answer. For example, Amazon does the job exceedingly well. With the latest user comments and feedback on its website, it always manages to display the trending keywords and pull customers to the respective product pages.

5. Use automation tools

If creating an online reputation seems like a lot of work, you may feel overwhelmed managing it. That is unless you switch to a strong social media management tool that covers social media advertising, posting, managing and customer engagement through a unified AI-driven automated platform. You can check our guide for the best social media management tools for businesses of all sizes.

6. Make honesty your policy

Honesty here concerns your business ethics, mission and vision and not necessarily the quarterly margins. Convey your values to your audience in a way they can relate to them.

7. Connect with influencers

When it comes to influencers, don't just connect with the ones with the highest number of followers. Rather, work with influencers who are best suited for your brand. Mega and mid-tier influencers have ruled the roost for a while. But nano and micro-influencers are now gaining just as much traction for online brands.

Classification of influencers according to the size of their following and examples of popular influencers under each category.

For example, the Swedish watch company Daniel Wellington aligned with micro-influencers running lifestyle and fashion blogs to grow its reach. It capitalized on their targeted reach to connect with a specific set of audiences and draw them to its retail stores. Many nano and micro-influencers used DW-branded hashtags to draw the audience to the brand's social media handles.

8. Have a contingency plan ready

There can be negative news involving your brand or a dreaded social media post that blows up into a scandal or leads to a banned service or product. Things can quickly turn ugly on the internet. A contingency plan can prepare you for the worst while you hope for the best.

Having a strong social media team makes dealing with online negative reviews a tad easier. That's how Wix was able to fix the blunder that Covid almost did to their product, Corvid. One of their flagship products, Wix Code was enthusiastically renamed "Corvid" in March 2019. Everyone was happy about it until Covid struck in 2020. They anticipated the approaching crisis and changed the name to Velo before it could damage the brand irreparably.

Read More: How to manage a social media crisis efficiently and save your brand in 2023.

What are the benefits of managing your online brand reputation?

Managing a brand's online reputation is challenging, but it provides businesses with enormous benefits. Here are a few top benefits that make the task worthwhile.

Helps in supervising online brand presence

Most of your customers voice their concerns online. It is crucial that you are aware of what they are saying about your products and services online.

Protects brand image

It takes ages to build your brand image, but one bad moment can ruin all the hard work. Managing your online reputation involves keeping a watch on user comments on social media. It can also help you spot any fake or incorrect information about your brand and take corrective measures.

Enhances customer loyalty

A consistent online presence helps you stay in touch with your customers. Sharing honest content can help you score bonus points with them.

7 hacks for dealing with negative online reviews

Negative Reviews 02 (1)

A strong social media presence can work wonders for your brand. However, you may also come across negative online reviews, which can potentially harm your brand and affect its reputation. Here are a few tips to help save the day in such situations.

1. Think objectively when you address negative reviews

Customers post all kinds of unchecked online reviews replete with slang, abuses and often hurtful things to get the brand’s attention. While it is easy to get swayed, keeping your emotions in check is crucial. Respond professionally and politely and apologize for any negative experiences. Having a solution-oriented response ready can work wonders in such cases.

2. Try to take the conversation offline

Ignore the impulse to respond to an abusive customer publicly. Take the discussion offline, to allay the customer's fears and sort out the differences, by either asking for the customer’s contact information or sharing yours with them.

3. Get creative!

Negative reviews can often be subjective. The best move in such cases is to leverage the feedback creatively. Take inspiration from Joe Dough Sandwich Shop. When a Yelp reviewer quoted its meatball sandwich as "the worst sandwich" he had ever had, this sandwich shop used his comments as a humorous ad outside their outlet. They put up a board outside the shop that said:

"Come in and try the 'Worst meatball sandwich' that one guy on Yelp ever had in his life."

The fast food outlet's little stunt did wonders for the brand boosting its online profile and in-store footfalls.

4. Be prudent and professional in dealing with negative comments

Negative comments are tricky to deal with. You don’t know the whole story or if the complaint is valid. First, ascertain if the customer has a genuine complaint and use it to figure out the areas for improvement. Have key takeaways from each negative review and share them with your team.

5. Execute the learnings

Remember when a major coffee chain received massive backlash for an incident involving two African-American men in their Philadelphia store in 2018? It all started with a viral video that showed the brand in a negative light. The company realized how quickly the issue could affect its brand reputation. The CEO apologized immediately, and the company closed 8,000 of its outlets for racial bias training.

Some customers felt the company didn't do enough but the majority of them applauded how the company quickly sprang into action and executed its learnings to stop the one-off incident from tarnishing its brand image.

6. Get a follow-up customer review

After executing the learnings and corrective measures, inform the customer and get follow-up feedback from them. No customer should be left unheard, and no complaint should go unresolved.

7. Leverage review management software to respond at scale

An efficient review management software can help your team address customer's concerns promptly and efficiently. The software can help you respond to negative comments quickly and convert conversations about your products into customer purchases.

Read More: How to manage crisis communication in 2023 (+ checklist)

Ready to manage your online reputation?

Consistency, honesty and quality are the three things your content should have to create a strong online brand reputation. You need to be honest with your audience and serve quality content consistently to keep them engaged.

Managing your online reputation can involve a truckload of tasks. Every word about your brand that goes online can make or break the customer's perception of your brand. An AI-enabled online reputation management tool can be a savior in such cases. The software can help manage your brand's visibility on the web and social media and build your brand's trustworthiness and credibility. This, in turn, helps boost sales.

What's more, the AI-powered online reputation management tool can offer you in-depth actionable insights about your brand's online presence.

In short, if you are looking to effectively manage your brand's online reputation, your search should end with a strong AI-enabled online reputation management tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any business present on the internet needs to manage its online reputation. But certain domains demand a stronger presence than others. For example, e-commerce and service industries like hotels, entertainment and healthcare need it more.

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