Today, whether you are someone into the fitness business, beauty business, hospitality, travel and tourism etc. having a good online presence and reputation is imperative to your business. A single negative review or post and a company can lose 22% of its customers.
Over the last two years the trend of online shopping has been even more with people restricted in their homes owing to the pandemic. They rely more than ever on google reviews and other online reviews for making any purchases. As a business, a negative review associated with your brand is the last thing you want.
Your online reputation matters, period!
What is Online Reputation Management?
Controlling the information that is available on the internet when people look for your brand and influencing how they perceive your business is online reputation management.
People can post anything online, so there is a lot you cannot control. The best approach is to stay focused on things you can control. Managing your reputation online is a two-step process:
- Monitor how potential customers perceive your brand.
- Take appropriate action to control and improve your brands reputation online
The basic premise of online reputation management is to evoke positive feelings and opinions about your brand and ward off any negative reviews that are subjective and unfair. It is important for you as a business to address customer complaints and issues on social media.
Prompt and effective handling of these situations ensure that there is no serious impact on your reputation in the long run. However, reputation bombs can do a lot of damage in the form of negative reviews on websites that are specifically designed to target your brand or negative media coverage. These reputation bombs show up prominently in search engine results.
Why is Online Reputation important?
According to BrightLocal, between personal recommendations and online reviews 85% of consumers trust online reviews. In recent times, the line between virtual and real world has blurred with more and more people connecting and interacting through various social-media platforms, which means that your online reputation impacts your offline reputation too. A look at these numbers reveal how much online reviews can impact your business:
- 57% of the consumers reject brands outright that have a rating of less than 4 stars (up from 48% in 2017)!
- 11% of consumers do not settle for anything less than a 5-star rating.
- In the last 2 years there has been a 35% increase in searches related to restaurant reviews on Google. Other sectors have witnessed 100% growth in review searches.
Looking at these numbers you can well-imagine how important it is for you as a business to maintain a good online reputation.
Ways to manage your online reputation
Analyze your current online brand reputation
Before you embark on designing a strategy for online image building, assess what kind of reputation you have. Take feedback from clients, business associates and stakeholders on how they feel about your brand. Do a Google search to see the kind of reviews and other information that comes up regarding your brand.
Use a tool like Brand Grader to get an overall idea of your online reputation. Put your brand name in the tool to see what opinions news portals and social media influencers have about your brand. These tools also help you assess how your competitors are performing online. Assessing your online reputation will help you plan an effective strategy for an impactful and positive online presence.
Work towards an aggressive SEO strategy
Anyone and everyone is free to post their opinions on the web. So what people post is beyond your control but maintaining a good Google rank is in your control. By adapting aggressive SEO strategy, you can boost the ranking of your positive brand content and consistently appear at the top in search results for your brand name. A good SEO will ensure a positive reviews trend at the top, this will help the potential consumer form a good first impression. The key is to have a SEO optimized website and proper site architecture in place. Keeping a control over when site links appear is not possible. However, website optimizations can help achieve this.
- Make sure to have a clear structure such that each page is interlinked with others on your site.
- Ensure that your website is crawled and indexed in Google.
- Create SEO content. By doing so you will be able to drive more visitors.
Use software designed to manage online reputation
Irrespective of the fact you have a PR team or not, invest in a reputation management software. As a business you benefit a great deal by using such software like the software helps track what people are posting about your brand.
They also alert you on instances where your spelling has been misspelt or a certain post by someone about you where you have not been tagged. If someone has raised a grievance you can promptly address the same. Some of the popular online reputation software are BirdEye, Podium, Cision, ReviewTrackers, Yext etc. We will discuss each later.
Understand what needs to be monitored
Whether it is a software, Google alerts or your PR team monitoring your online reputation, identify clearly what all needs to be monitored. We have listed out a few basics that you should be looking at to ascertain your online reputation.
- Brand names spelling or sounding similar to your brand
- Wrong spelling quoted by someone in a post
- Performance and online image of your competitors
- Online activity of your business associates, partners, key employees
- Top search keywords
Ensure presence on all social media platforms
Stay on top of your social media mentions. Social media is a powerful tool to build your online brand reputation. It helps add that human touch and build a stronger emotional and personal relationship with your followers. It helps in forming a loyal online community and helps you as a brand to build a solid online reputation.
These days people also scout social media to find new products, brands and deals for their purchase. As per a survey 60% of people on Instagram have discovered new products on the platform, and 80% of people follow at least one business.
Make sure you create your business profile across all popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Be active on these platforms and engage with your customers. Share content which people enjoy seeing in their social media feeds like:
- Product images and videos
- Working behind the scenes (BTS) videos
- Announcements about new product launches
- Teasers about new changes
- Encourage people to comment by posting interesting opinion polls.
- Personalized message videos by your celebrity brand ambassadors or may be a live interaction session.
However, always keep in mind the 80/20 rule of social media. Ensure that 80% of your content is fun and educational, and only 20% is about promotions. Ensure that all your social media handles have a uniform aesthetic, communication, and content.
This will ensure a cohesive brand image. Linking all your social media handles to your website will enable you to own the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) as search engines will know that these are your official handles.
Encourage and leverage reviews
Customers these days want to read as many reviews before they trust any business. Email your existing customers easy to fill surveys, keep feedback links on your website and social media handles.
Post interesting content on your social media handles to encourage comments and feedback. Respond and address negative reviews. Like social media platforms, ensure you have a presence on all popular review platforms relevant to your business. Some of the most reliable and popular review platforms are Google My Business, Zomato, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Four Square, Amazon, Yellow Pages and many more.
While many customers will review by themselves, a majority need to be prompted to do so. Doing the following will encourage most of your customers to provide feedback and reviews:
- Ask for reviews every time: Asking for a feedback/review makes the customer feel important. Don’t shy away from asking customers to leave feedback via email, phone, on your website or in person.
- Review Us link or page on your website : It is a good idea to create a page or a link dedicated to reviews. Linking this page to your Google My Business reviews URL will ensure that all reviews appear in Google as well as your site.
- Keep it simple: Simplify the reviews and ratings as a one or two-click navigation process.
- Bring a personal touch: Personalize emails by including customer names.
- Maintain a feedback log at your physical location: Keep a tablet or a laptop or an old fashioned register at the exit where customers can quickly drop a review before they leave your shop.
- Include thank you notes with your products/services: A small gesture like inserting a “thank you” note in your product box adds a charm and feel-good factor and it is a reminder to leave feedback.
- Provide an incentive –The only way to get some people to provide a rating, feedback or review is to offer them an incentive. It could be a future discount coupon or a small gift or a gift voucher.
- Responding to reviews – This is by far the most effective way to get more reviews. Comments whether positive or negative, when promptly responded implies that you listen and care about your customers’ opinions. It is an assurance that their voice is being heard. At times, this is enough motivation for them to leave a review.
Respond to negative feedback and resolve grievances
When you receive negative feedback, ensure you respond to it immediately. Addressing and resolving unpleasant experiences is like treading on a slippery road, one has to be careful. Keep the following guidelines in mind to address and resolve negative feedback.
- Be a good listener: Read all grievances carefully and try not to be defensive. Patiently investigate and get to the root of the problem. Empathize with your customers and assure them that their voice is being heard. Make them realize that their opinion matters.
- Be truthful and do not offer an excuse: Acknowledge and apologize whether or not you are at fault. Take responsibility and work towards finding an amicable solution. Do not go down the excuse and blame game path.
- Maintain your composure: Some people may be really curt , rude and unprofessional in their communication. Do not fret or lose your composure. If at any point in time you feel that things are going beyond your control, involve your superiors.
- Communicate in an easy to understand language: Be mindful of your language and avoid using technical jargon. Not all customers may be tech-savvy.
- Assure your customer: Thank your customer for their time and honest feedback. Assure them that such inconvenience will not happen again.
As per a survey by ReviewTrackers, it is highly likely for 45% of consumers to trust a business that responds to negative feedback. Try to resolve issues without changing channels. For example, if a customer contacts you on Twitter or Instagram DM, try and resolve the issue on the same channel. When dealing with negative feedback ensure that the customer takes a notice of how fast and professionally you have dealt with their issues.
Take legal action if required
We spoke about reputation bombs earlier. Many times the information provided by these bombs may be false and hence illegal. Though in many scenarios it is best not to react to negative reports and false allegations, it may not be the best approach for your online brand reputation. If negative content has been posted with the intent of damaging your brand’s reputation or contains false information or defamatory language it needs to be dealt with legally. File a complaint with the cyber crimes cell and hire a lawyer to deal with the situation. Ensure, such information is removed.
Build a robust public relations (PR) team
An efficient PR personnel or team is instrumental in building your brand reputation. They are the best people to handle damage control and rebuild your reputation.
Know your customers well
The key to having a successful brand image both online and offline is to know and understand your customer. Whether one or a thousand upset customers, you need to listen to them and identify your problem area. Not all negative reviews are false, these are people who genuinely want to trust you despite the problems. You really need to hear them out and address your problem areas.
Having understood the basics about brand online reputation, let us now look in detail at some of the popular tools that can be used to monitor online reputation.
10 Tools to Monitor Online Reputation
Monitoring your online reputation involves a considerable amount of time and effort. The good news is that there are quite a few paid and free tools that can help you monitor your online image. There are primarily two types of online reputation management (ORM) tools, one helps you monitor online reputation and the second helps you improve your online reputation. However, a majority of reputation tools can be classified as monitoring / listening tools. The second type focuses on improving online reviews, but there are very few such software options available. We will discuss the same later in this article.
The monitoring tools can be further classified as “Reputation monitoring tools” and “Social media monitoring tools”.
Reputation monitoring tools help in a variety of tasks from scanning search results and review pages to looking for mentions in articles or other websites. These tools streamline the process of monitoring your online presence and notify you every time your name is mentioned. Social media monitoring tools, also known as listening tools, act as your eyes and ears, monitoring social media pages for mentions of you or your company’s name.
Having understood what online reputation monitoring tools are, let's delve into the most popular monitoring tools preferred by business owners in 2021.
Google is a modern day digital encyclopaedia. Apart from an array of valuable free tools for SEO professionals and marketers, Google has ‘Google alerts’. Once you set up a google alert for your name (personal or business name), google will send you an alert via email anytime your name is mentioned in the digital space.
This way you can quickly respond to any negative feedback or unwarranted comments. You also get an idea about your reach in the digital world and how often do people interact or search for your brand.
One of the most popular social media monitoring tools, “Social mention” keeps a track of more than 80 social media sites comprising Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc.
It displays data in a manner such that it enables you to measure, monitor and improve your brand’s reputation. The tool search result mentions your brand’s:
- Strength: Likelihood of your brand being discussed on social media.
- Sentiments: This talks about the ratio between positive and negative comments.
- Passion: People are interested in your brand and discuss it quite often.
- Reach: This refers to the number of unique searches, different people and platforms where your brand is being written or commented on.
Social mention does real time monitoring of the web and picks up real-time data on social media search and analysis. Cherry on the cake is that “Social mention” is a free tool.
YouScan is a social media monitoring or listening tool. It scans social media and multiple sites on the web for brand mentions. Not only this, it also analyses these mentions for its broader social impact by mapping billions of data points. What sets YouScan apart from other tools is its image recognition feature.
The image recognition enables users to get accurate results in their visual searches. A user can filter results in multiple ways to get relevant data. The visual insights enable you to be specific in your search through all the images that come up.
The image search recognition is powered by an accurate AI engine. The analytics tools comprise interactive graphs and charts. These infographics depict all the major trends within areas of your interest. The tool enables the user to click anywhere on the charts and see the break-up of the numbers.
Every major social media platform has its representation at BrandMentions, along with other websites, such as blogs, reviews and news sites. Every user goes through an extensive configuration.
As a first step you need to identify the keywords that need to be tracked - most common keywords being the name of your company and/or your social media handle.
You can also track and monitor keywords your competitors’ use along with their social media handles. You set up your Project up by adding or excluding specific keywords to show in your results. Once project creation is done, it takes less than a minute to look at a breakdown of your mentions.
The sentiment analysis is displayed on the platform for each mention. The tool allows you to filter your results in many ways and also enables you to get an in-depth view for a specific mention.
You can also respond to social posts directly from BrandMentions interface. Over a period of time the data pool will continue to grow with consistent use of this tool.
As the name suggests, Mention is a tool that enables brands to monitor all social media and also find all mentions of themselves in online conversations. Mention allows a user to monitor over 1 billion sources daily, such as social media, forums and blogs, and various search engines.
Similar to other tools in the category, Mention enables users to use Boolean alerts. This feature helps users to zero in on their brand, competitors, and customers for precise market research.
The tools media monitoring and social listening features make it much easier to deal with crisis situations. Whenever the brand name is mentioned the “pulse alerts” feature notify the user about the same.
Features like the “sentiment analysis” enables users to quickly sort positive comments from the negative, and quickly identify potential problems. This in turn enables users to react in a prompt and appropriate manner to both good or bad news.
Thanks to Mention’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram integrations, users can respond to comments directly on these social media accounts. Mention also tracks brand awareness, sentiment, and the reputation of the brand and also its competitors.
GatherUp is essentially a review monitoring and customer review engagement tool. In today’s digital world the value of five-star reviews is paramount for any business. They are well aware of the fact that more five-star reviews online means creating a trustworthy relationship with potential customers.
However, we all know how challenging it is to get customers to leave reviews – no matter how excellent the service or product. People have the tendency to go online and put negative reviews rather than compliment for a good experience. Getting reviews is even harder for established good businesses.
GatherUp is a reputation management tool that enables a brand to build a continuous cycle of customer feedback and reviews which it can use to convert more customers.
The tool allows brands to engage with its customers via text or email, requesting them to write a review for the product or service. GatherUp monitors more than 30 review sites such as Facebook, Google, Trip Advisor, and the BBB.
It captures NPS (Net Promoter Score), collates answers to survey questions, and customer feedback. It sends the user alerts via email whenever someone leaves any new feedback on any social media site and websites monitored by GatherUp.
The Brand Grader is a free and easy to use online reputation monitoring tool. The tool provides you valuable information on how your brand performs online. The user needs to register on this by entering the brand name and email account for all correspondence.
The Brand Grader sends a report about the brand on the email ID provided. The report provides a quick overview of the brand’s online presence and includes details of the last seven days comprising:
- Names and details of all the social media influencers, blogs and news sites who have discussed you.
- Names of the web and social sources who mentioned your brand the most over the last seven days.
- It gives a sentiment report with a break-up of both positive and negative mentions.
- It gives an overview of the number of mentions your brand received on websites, blogs, and forums.
- Top locations where conversations about your brand came from
- Status of your social following, that is, your followers count on different social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn etc.
BrandYourself is an online reputation management software that builds a free report of your online performance. It is a software for both individuals and businesses.
It classifies the online reputation of an individual or a business between “very poor” and “excellent” basis its score calculation. The tool highlights risk factors such as flagged social results, flagged social posts, and flagged images.
The report also gives suggestions on ways to improve Reputation Score. Users can work on an action plan to improve their online score. Users have an option to improve the results themselves or pay Brand Yourself to make the necessary changes. We will discuss how the software can help improve the score later.
Another preferred and popular online monitoring tool is SEMrush. It allows you to monitor online mentions, track sentiment scores and resource authority.
SEMrush is free for use for a particular period of time but as part of the whole SEMrush package. Like how Netflix subscription is free for the first month but eventually one needs to pay for subsequent usage. However, during the free trial period users can access only the following tool features :
- Users can monitor their mentions but have no access to the backlinks.
- They can track down social media influencers working in their domain.
- Users can measure their estimated reach.
- Users can track and monitor referral traffic based on their mentions.
- They can track mention sentiment, whether positive or negative.
- Users can do an analysis of the mentioning resource authority.
Review Push comes with a 21 days free trial period. Businesses use Review Push as a tool to collect all the online reviews in one place. It enables users to do multi-site monitoring across unlimited locations.
The tool is particularly useful for brands having presence in multiple locations and geographies. Review push has a unique feature that allows a business to compare the online ranking of its various stores.
Review Push also sends an email notification every time a business receives a new review. The email comes with an option to respond to online reviews.
Reputation monitoring software monitors brand mentions activity ranging from scanning search results and review pages to looking for mentions in articles or other websites.
These tools help a brand streamline the process of monitoring their online presence. Social media software on the other hand acts as a brand's eyes and ears in monitoring social media as opposed to search results for mentions.
However, improving and repairing online reputation requires a certain special skill set and corrective actions. Technology and software can simplify the process but no software can match or substitute the human expertise that is required. With the ongoing development and research in the artificial intelligence domain this may be possible in the future.
With the advent of the internet and its easy accessibility there is a lot of information available in the public domain as compared to the pre-internet era. Not just that, once a piece of information is available online it will stay there till eternity. This makes keeping track of your online reputation a non-negotiable activity.
As a business owner, you owe it to your business to do all that is possible in your capacity to minimize any negative sentiments about your business. This is the age of the internet, online reputation management is an important aspect of your business.
Having discussed the tools to monitor, as a business you also need to focus on how to improve your online reputation. Are there any tools available to help you improve your online reputation? The clear answer is yes. Let us have a look at the online reputation improvement tools.
5 tools to improve online reputation
The first step towards improving your online reputation is to take a good look at where it is currently sitting. Monitoring tools help us a great deal when it comes to monitoring our image online. However, it is equally important to work towards improving our online reputation.
The good news is that like monitoring tools, there are tools which can help us improve our online image. These tools can collate online data and give you an overview on how people really view what they see when browsing through Facebook or Twitter feeds! They also help you reach out to people and make a positive impact and improve your overall online reputation. Let us take a look at our top 5 picks:
Are you not sure what customers are saying about your service? Reputology provides a great way to track reviews across Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and many such platforms. Reputology is a software program that not only helps in monitoring your online presence, it also analyses your online data and enables you to respond to comments whether negative or positive.
Brands like Gold’s Gym and Ashley Homestores rely on Reputology to manage their online reputation and boost their bottom line. Being able to see where these reviews come from is essential in order to make more informed decisions on how management can improve or identify strategies that may work better with certain sections of your online audience.
- Reputology allows 24-hours monitoring and also enables the user to respond to any comments directly from the platform.
- It is a location specific software which is really important for brick and mortar stores
- It collates reviews at one place, helps with gauging and analyzing customer sentiments and provides a benchmark to where the company stands online.
- The analytics tool is the very basis of improving online reputation.
BrightLocal as a tool helps businesses to improve their online reputation with the help of review tracking. It features one easy dashboard that combines SEO, Google Analytics, and other aspects of reputation management all packed into a single dashboard. It also tracks ‘Google My Business’, a free tool to help local businesses gain visibility in search.
It also enables a business to manage its customer reviews and comes loaded with features to manage and improve online reputation. Some note-worthy benefits of BrightLocal comprise:
- A cloud-based software with an easy-to-use and user friendly interface.
- Features boosting local SEO.
- A social inbox mapped to all possible social media channels enabling a user to respond to all mentions directly from the platform.
- Integrates social marketing.
Big business houses like Hilton hotels and IKEA trust BrightLocal to manage their online business reputation with the help of tools like single dashboard and Google my business.
Unlike other tools listed here, Delightree is proactive in nature. Rather than monitoring what goes wrong it concentrates on getting things correct in the first place. This is the best tool to manage businesses operating on a franchise model.
Many franchisee owners like Subway trust this tool for their online reputation enhancement. Some of the features of this tools are:
- It helps digitize all day to day tasks into simple tasks. With a few clicks you can create simple, clear-cut and easy task lists for your team. The tool sends a notification when the assigned task is due. This enables staff to stay on top of the processes.
- It helps verify whether the assigned tasks are being done correctly or not with real-time pictures, checklists and more. This helps you effectively manage your time and decide which tasks require improvements and more monitoring.
- Delightree automates and records all your past task history for audit inspections, ensuring that a business is compliant with all regulations, saving unnecessary penalties
- It provides a chat app for teams to communicate, collaborate and get things done. It enables you to send a message or schedule an event within the group – saving time spent on creating and sending emails.
Sprout Social is a platform that helps a business with social media management through listening and evaluating consumer sentiment towards it over time. This enables brands to organize and improve their social marketing strategies and online reputation management through monitoring social media.
The tool also enables a user to manage their editorial calendar and ensure scheduling posts at optimal times to ease the time-consuming task of content marketing, thereby stepping up as an online reputation improvement tool. Sprout Social also has the ability to check and respond to messages posted on any social account, and employ customer relationship management tools to build valuable relationships with users.
The tool also allows you to check brand mentions on social media and manage reviews across platforms like TripAdvisor and Facebook. Marketing a business requires a solid social marketing strategy. Sprout social is a 2-in-1 solution that helps you with both a social marketing strategy and online reputation management at the same time. Some of its note-worthy features are:
- It is an AI enabled tool that is capable of replying to messages posted online.
- It is essentially a social marketing management tool with added features to manage online reputation.
SendInBlue besides monitoring your online reputation helps you design effective e-mail campaigns in a way that does not require too much technical knowledge. One cannot emphasize enough on the benefits of a good e-mail marketing campaign when it comes to brand building.
SendInBlue has many ready to use templates, one can start by picking a template of choice and design a clean and effective outreach program. E-mails not only help a business maintain its reputation on a daily basis, but also come in handy in crisis situations.
Consider a scenario that requires– a product recall. As a control measure a business needs to issue a statement, and then monitor responses to ensure that the situation has been handled correctly. SendInBlue helps you create a unique campaign in such scenarios and also tracks people's response. The tool can also be white labelled, enabling a brand to have better brand visibility.
To sum up, your online reputation is an important aspect of your brand building efforts. Leverage on the tools available to enhance your online presence and reputation.