8 FAQs About Brand Reputation Management
As a brand, you naturally want to provide exemplary products and services. But beyond that, maintaining a positive image within your industry and for the public should be your top priority. Even if you have a great offering, no one will be willing to try it if your credibility is damaged.
Unfortunately, things on the Internet can turn very quickly. Some people derive pleasure from the downfall of others and may go out of their way to leave bad reviews, try to instigate a fight on your social media accounts, or even dig up a questionable, decade-old tweet from one of your employees. Such negative interactions can occur suddenly at any time, so you have to be vigilant about monitoring your online presence.
For better or for worse, your employees, business partners, and potential clients can type your brand name into the Google search bar and find all the information the world wide web has to offer — whether that information is fair and unbiased or not.
So, how can you take steps to guard your brand reputation? So much information is now available online, from customer reviews to branded blogs and social media, that managing the online reputation of your company can be a full-time job. This can include releasing new content, announcing upcoming initiatives, and responding to both positive and negative comments.
This may be a labor-intensive process, but it is a vitally necessary one. Since much of your perceived brand reputation is now tied to your digital visibility, knowing what your online reputation is, how to access it, handle it, and what reputation management entails is instrumental to your success.
In many cases, hiring an agency to assist you is the best course of action to ensure your reputation is being properly regulated. To help you evaluate your need for high-quality professional assistance, here are eight FAQs about brand reputation management and what it means for your company.
1. What Is Reputation Management?
The simple definition is it is that brand reputation management involves overseeing your company’s public image. Online, this includes customer communication and review management. Reviews are a large part of your brand’s online reputation, and maintaining them and responding to them is critical since 89% of consumers check reviews before making a purchase.
Hiring a team to manage your online reputation is often better than doing it yourself because digital marketers and PR firms have people on board that know how to expertly shape your reputation on Google. They have been trained in keywords, algorithms, SEO, and search results and can create new, high-quality content to execute changes in your visibility and associations.
Suppose there are recent negative reviews or comments on your accounts, or a troll has taken it upon themselves to run a smear campaign against your brand. In that case, someone trained in reputation management can work to push negative content off of the Google front page and boost new, positive content. Let’s be honest, how many people make it past the first page when they Google something? Let alone beyond the second or third page. By curating your top results, professional reputation managers can control the narrative for your brand.
In another example, suppose any of the negative information on Google is inaccurate, outdated, or embroiled in a legal investigation. In that case, your reputation management team can contact web admins for direct content removal and can sometimes have information and photos permanently deleted.
2. How Do I Check My Online Reputation?
You can quickly assess your overall reputation by searching your business’ name on Google. Open every relevant link from the first page of results, checking the image results as well. Identify any links or photos that do not represent you or your brand well that you would like your reputation management team to address.
Next, check for mentions on various social media channels. If you haven’t reviewed your notifications recently, scroll through and ensure they are positive comments. This may also be a good time to turn on email notifications, so you can quickly see and respond to future mentions as they come in.
Finally, you may want to do a deep dive into your employees’ public presence on social media and ask them to redact any inappropriate content. Yes, those drunken college photos should be marked for consideration and removal.
3. How Necessary Is Reputation Management?
Your online reputation is the new resume, the new business card, and the easiest way of learning about your brand. Potential and discerning customers will conduct online research before spending their hard-earned money and will judge you based on what they find, good or bad.
Unfortunately, anyone can say anything online, whether they post anonymously, pose as an expert, or make up a name and persona. There are also bots, short for robots, programmed to mimic human behavior. They can run rampant on social media, spreading negative information, exposing details pulled from public records, or even distributing malware and attacking websites from spoof accounts tied to your brand.
When engineers first developed the Internet, they did not foresee how it would evolve or how many millions of people would be online today. Even as the Internet continues to grow, no mandatory laws or universal systems have been instated to identify users or authenticate credentials.
Currently, unless it involves defamation, website operators have legal immunity over what is said and posted on their sites, and they are not responsible for it in a court of law. The Communications Decency Act of 1996, which is the law intended to regulate Internet content, has not been updated to accommodate the tremendous expansion of online usage and social media platforms.
Essentially, there are no Internet police. So if you want to protect your brand against digital slander, you’ll have to partner with professionals or do it yourself.
4. If I Stay Off the Internet, Can I Just Avoid All of This?
Regrettably, it doesn’t work that way. Your online reputation is there and available, whether you actively manage it or not, and needs to be carefully monitored. 84% of people trust the reviews and information they find online more than they trust what they hear in person, so ignoring your digital reputation is not a sustainable option.
This leaves you with two choices:
- Leave your brand’s online reputation in the hands of whoever wants to post about you, and blindly hope for the best.
- Take charge and guide your reputation in a positive direction.
5. How Long Does Fixing an Online Reputation Take?
You’ve chosen option #2 — great choice! And you’ve hired a professional team to guide you — you’re a genius! However, managing your expectations is also part of the process. Even with the best reputation management, you will not see results overnight.
Some firms will promise you a quick, magic fix. Be cognizant that they are usually exploiting Google’s current algorithms. When these exploitations are identified, and they always are, the results will revert back to how they were before, and the money you spent will have been wasted.
Some reputation crises can be stopped in their tracks before things get worse, but it will take time to heal damage already done. Depending on the starting state of your reputation, the average time for lasting results usually takes about six months to a year. Identifying the issues, creating and implementing new content and campaigns, and polishing your brand takes time. Also, remember that once you reach a happy place with your brand’s online reputation, it will need to be maintained and managed.
A skilled online reputation management team will understand how Google works and be able to develop new content that will help push unwanted or old content lower in the search results. But be aware that new content does not automatically appear at the top. This is where understanding search engine algorithms come into play. New material must be strategically crafted to perform well in search results and then must be monitored, improved upon, and maintained to keep the old, unwanted content from resurfacing.
Another aspect of online reputation management is dealing with what is known as “people search” databases. This is the process of removing personal addresses and other such information from public databases to help protect your brand from being taken over and misused by third parties.
6. Can’t I Just Remove the Negative Reviews?
Of course, hearing anything negative about your brand, products, and services probably stings. If the negative reviews or comments are on your own website or social media, you might think it’s a no-brainer to delete them. But unless the words in question are clearly derogatory or explicit, removing an unfavorable comment or review can actually do more harm than good.
If the person who wrote the comments or review notices the deletion, this could cause them to go on a rampage, making even more negative claims. They might also be insulted that you didn’t take the time to address their concerns or respond to them. By responding to these comments and reviews thoughtfully and sincerely, other people will see how your brand handles itself, which speaks highly of you.
How to address negativity and criticism the right way:
- Thank the customer or client for their time in leaving feedback
- Avoid generic responses by acknowledging the specific situation in detail
- Apologize sincerely for their negative experience
- Explain the steps you will be taking to ensure that no one has that experience again
- Invite them to contact you privately and directly so you have the opportunity to make it right for them personally
- Use your natural voice and be polite, genuine, and honest
By following these steps and having review management systems in place for your business, you will be able to respond promptly and hopefully turn negative comments and reviews into positive ones. Remember, do not respond with negative emotion or defensiveness. If you personally have a hard time staying objective, leave this task to a trusted employee or third party, such as your reputation management team.
7. What Are Other Ways I Can Help Control My Brand’s Reputation?
While your reputation management team is doing everything they can to improve upon and maintain a positive reputation for your brand online, you can be proactive on your end as well.
Look for opportunities to build your brand up, such as doing interviews for journals, magazines, video channels, or podcasts. Attending or hosting meetups, seminars, and events are also great ways to get your brand and message out in the world while controlling the narrative. The more you are in the public eye in a positive way, the more opportunities you will have to engage with potential customers and clients, create more content, and become a trusted brand in your industry.
8. How Do I Protect My Brand from Future Reputation Issues?
This answer bears repeating. The best and most efficient way to protect yourself and your brand from future problems is with ongoing reputation management. Whether trying to do this in-house or partnering with an agency of experts, it is critical to be proactive and maintain all of the hard work that goes into building your positive reputation.
This means regularly creating content, fostering audience interaction and engagement, leveraging quality SEO, and executing fast damage control for negative reviews, comments, and other inevitable issues.
Invest in Your Brand
How important is reputation to you? As online interactions continue to skyrocket, your reputation could take a nose-dive at any moment. That’s why it’s important for both your brand and your peace of mind to be prepared and know any issues will be handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Hiring a professional brand reputation management firm to help with share of voice, visibility, crisis aversion, content creation, brand maintenance, and overall monitoring allows you to focus on other aspects of your business — such as delivering great services and getting your message out to the public in other ways.
Ultimately, your attention is valuable, and getting bogged down in negativity is not something you have time for. That’s why our industry-leading team at Joseph Studios offers comprehensive brand reputation management and public relations outreach and an award-winning approach. With our cutting-edge intelligence solutions, we can help you find and influence your audience online, so your brand is always putting its best foot forward.
To learn more about our reputation management and other digital marketing services, just contact Joseph Studios today!