Brand Reputation Management Is Customer-Centric Marketing
How can something like brand reputation management, which is company-focused, also be customer-centric?
In this omni-channel, integrated marketplace, how you engage with and respond to customers online determines how your brand is viewed.
Whether your audience is B2C or B2B is irrelevant. If you fail to engage customers online or ignore reviews, your reputation will suffer. Even employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor must become part of your brand reputation strategy if you are to improve share of voice and share of market in this interconnected world.
Here, we’ll define brand reputation management, apply it to a B2B environment, and share some of our tried and true tips and tools to improve brand and reputation management at your company.
What is brand reputation management?
Gartner provides a technical definition of brand reputation management:
“… the practice of influencing stakeholder perceptions and public conversations about an organization and its brands … that includes monitoring perceptions and conversations, responding to reputation threats and proactively seizing opportunities to boost reputation.”
That’s true, but Sprout Social brings it to life better by defining brand reputation management as “the process of monitoring and influencing the public perception of your brand” and reminding PR pros and brand strategists everywhere that “reputation takes years to build and minutes to lose.”
Why offline and online brand reputation management matter.
Online brand reputation management is what most marketers think of on this matter, and rightly so. Social media is word-of-mouth marketing in a pressure cooker.
A bad experience can spread like wildfire on social channels, leaving a ruined reputation in its wake.
Unexpected circumstances can make a local company a national phenomenon overnight — and for all the wrong reasons.
So of course online reputation management matters. But so does how you manage your brand offline.
What does a dilapidated sign say about your brand?
How does poor in-person fulfillment of online orders damage your brand reputation?
When a package arrives beat up or late, how does your brand suffer?
As Andy Beal comments, brands must avoid having a Jekyll and Hyde reputation with the online and offline customer experiences they deliver.
Digital reputation management includes public relations and is directly related to a brand’s share of voice. Owned content that is optimized for key search terms and phrases, PR activities, paid social campaigns and influencer marketing are all part of digital reputation management.
How well you spread awareness of your brand and how much you spend on advertising directly impacts your share of voice. If mentions of your brand are positive, your market share should also rise. If mentions are largely negative, your share of voice may be high, but your market share will eventually fall as customers seek other brands that have a more positive reputation.
Particularly in a slowing market, brands must manage their reputation online carefully, to retain customers and increase brand loyalty.
For B2C brands, actively responding to customer comments and reviews online directly affects your share of voice and market share, and is a critical part of reputation management.
But, responding to reviews is just as critical for B2B brands. In particular, B2B brands should direct their attention to reviews left by employees on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, CareerBuilder and Comparably.
They should actively manage Google My Business and LinkedIn.
Brand Reputation Management Activities
Reputation management includes monitoring perceptions and conversations, responding to reputation threats and proactively seizing opportunities to boost reputation.
A continual process, it must be done every hour of every day to truly stay on top of your brand’s public perception and address possible damaging situations as soon as they occur.
Remember, 87% of customers will reverse a purchase decision after viewing negative content about a brand or product online.
And 69% of job seekers would reject job offers from companies with bad reputations. A full 30% would reject offers from such companies, even if they were offered a 100% raise in compensation.
How to Figure Out What People are Saying About Your Brand Online: Where to Start
Many different kinds of conversations reveal what people think and say about your brand online:
- Social media posts
- Comments on social posts
- Customer service calls and chats
- Search engine results
Mine search results, customer reviews on review sites, comments on social media and even competitors’ social feeds to learn what people are saying about your brand.
A social listening tool like those offered by Hootsuite or Cision can help make this task easier by picking up and monitoring conversations people are having about your brand.
Decide ahead of time which comments, reviews or mentions you’re going to respond to. Learn to recognize the difference between people who are only trolling to ruin your brand’s reputation and those who are providing real feedback about an experience they had with your brand, whether or positive or negative.
While you don’t want to respond to fake reviews, and you can’t possibly respond to everything said about your brand online, you should respond to real customers and create criteria that help your team know when they should respond to both positive and negative conversations about your business.
Tools to Help Manage Your Reputation Online
With so many places to manage your reputation online, a number of tools exist to help lighten the load for brand managers. Some of our favorites include the following:
- Yext Reviews: This tool helps you keep company data consistent across multiple websites, manage your social media accounts and respond to customer reviews.
- Review Trackers: This tool accumulates reviews from more than 100 third-party review sites and provides push notifications whenever customers leave reviews. It also provides some competitor tracking and performance analytics.
- Podium: This tool collates online customer feedback from multiple platforms, like Facebook, Google and Yelp, into one dashboard, making it easier to monitor and analyze. Your team can request reviews from customers and respond to feedback in real time.
- BirdEye: This tool gives you a high-level view of online conversations about your brand from more than 150 online review sources. It lets you monitor, promote and respond to reviews within one dashboard. It also offers some social tools that allow you to learn more about your competitors’ customers and create surveys on social.
- Cision: This tool lets you track brand mentions across millions of online sites and on social media. It is also particularly helpful in enabling you to perform proactive PR outreach by providing a way to engage with journalists and influencers about aspects of your sales, marketing and operations they would find newsworthy.
Wrapping It Up — Final Thoughts on Reputation Management
Remember, the key to getting brand reputation management right is to focus on cultivating a positive customer experience from the very first encounter with your brand to post-sale and beyond.
Listen to customer feedback, respond promptly and appropriately, and keep doing it.
Consistency is key. And provide helpful, actionable solutions in response to negative feedback whenever possible. Simply saying “Sorry” or “I hear you” may not be enough. Sometimes it may be all you can offer, but when you can do more for a customer, do it.
Don’t be afraid to delight a customer who’s providing positive feedback as well. Reward those who rave about you online with coupons, deals and swag.
And if all of this sounds necessary but overwhelming, let the brand reputation management experts at OBI Creative help you manage your brand online.
Reach out today to start a conversation about your needs!