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How to Create a Strong Digital Reputation Management Strategy

In business, reputation is everything. As business magnate Richard Branson said, “Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.” 

Customers support brands they trust. That’s something that can’t be built overnight. It’s formed through countless conversations, reviews, and customer experiences. 

While you can’t control what people say about your business or products, you can take control of how your brand is perceived online. This is especially crucial when you meet bumps along the road in the form of harsh criticism or negative customer feedback. This is also why every digital marketing strategy should have an online reputation management plan.

Why Manage Your Online Reputation

Simply put, digital reputation management is the process of protecting your brand image online. It’s setting up controls and steps that help build and improve a positive reputation.

Managing a brand’s reputation has never been as important as it is nowadays. The Internet has provided an ultra-fast highway where people can publish comments, blogs, videos, and reviews at a snap of a finger. Anyone who cares to take notice can read them and form opinions about your brand.

Without a plan to take control of your brand’s reputation before any bad review comes along (because it will), all your years of hard work and positive brand image can all come crashing down.

Take note that people remember negative experiences more than positive ones. It’s just the way we’re wired. So it’s not surprising how a well-known company can be badly hit by one scandal, even though it’s served customers well for many years.

5 Ways to Build a Strong Online Reputation

By knowing how to take control of the narrative about your business, you can rise above even the worst reputation hits. 

The good news is that it’s not impossible to re-shape your image through negative situations, especially when you’ve prepared a solid strategy to face one.

Here are five ways to build a good reputation online:

Listen to Your Customers

To manage how people perceive your brand, you first have to know what they say. This takes being present where conversations happen and monitoring these spaces for any mention of your brand, products, or services.

Social media is a great place to listen to your customers. People air out their concerns and even share happy experiences on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. You can monitor your pages in these platforms for comments and reviews.

But there are other ways to listen in on customer conversations:

  • Use tools that allow you to filter for keywords that match your brand. Some people don’t directly mention a brand when talking about it, which means you don’t get notified. 
  • Check relevant websites. Social media may be a great resource, but it’s not the only one. People also post comments and feedback on websites related to your business, such as those that offer travel services, restaurant listings, or product reviews. 

If you sell your products online shopping platforms, like Shopee, for instance, you should regularly check these sites to know what people are saying. 

  • Listen to content creators. Conversations may be led by influencers, bloggers, and other content creators online. Some do reviews of products and experiences, and their pages can be a great place to listen in on what customers think about your brand.

Be Transparent about Your Weaknesses

Try as we might to do everything perfectly, we all have weaknesses. There will always be problem areas for any business. You may be tempted to hide these or gloss them over, but doing so will only backfire.

The better approach is to be honest about your brand’s weaknesses so customers know what to expect. As they say, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver. The latter will only result in terrible disappointment, and you can count on the harsh reviews to come.

So let’s say you’re a young beauty products startup with a very small team handling order-taking. It’s better to let customers know about potential delays in the processing of orders, rather than keep people wondering why it’s taking you so long to respond.

Be Open to Reviews

We can’t control what people say, and that’s perhaps why so many businesses are afraid to get reviews from customers. Some even go so far as turning off comments or removing reviews sections in their pages. This, however, can only hurt your image.

There’s no better way to gain trust and credibility than to get people to review your brand. In fact, 76% of customers regularly read reviews of local businesses. When we read positive reviews about a brand, we’re more likely to support it because we trust what other people say. 

So you’ll actually be helping your brand’s reputation by allowing people to share their honest opinions. It communicates that you’re open to feedback and value what your customers think. Ultimately, you’ll be hitting two birds with one stone: building credibility and nurturing your relationship with your customers.

Respond to Criticism Quickly, Sincerely, and Gracefully

When a bad review comes, what then? Should you delete it, pretend it never happened? Not at all. The more you ignore these comments, the more they’ll keep coming back. Remember that most negative reviews stem from a real concern or an expectation that wasn’t met.

Therefore, criticisms, no matter how harsh, can actually help you improve your business. The trick is to receive and respond to them with grace.

Here’s how:

  • Respond quickly. The longer you wait to respond, the more the negative sentiment will grow. 
  • Acknowledge the mistake or lapse. Be polite in your response, and sincerely acknowledge that there was indeed a shortcoming on your part. This sends out the message that the customer is heard, and their opinion is valid.
  • Make up for the mistake. End your response by saying how you’re improving things or by making up for the customer’s bad experience. Whenever appropriate, you can offer a refund or a product replacement.

70% of customers that leave a negative review are willing to support a business again once their concerns are resolved. So resolve issues quickly, and you won’t have to worry about losing customers.

Have a Solid PR Plan in Place

The key to a good online reputation is having a solid PR team even before you need damage control. PR pros can carefully shape your brand image, protect it from PR crises, and control how customers perceive your business. 

Don’t wait to scramble for a PR team when you’re neck-deep in a PR disaster. Instead, build a team that you can trust to be proactive about branding and reputation right now.

PR pros can:

  • Monitor online conversations. This way you don’t have to manually go through online spaces to understand customer sentiment.
  • Create a positive buzz about your brand. What’s more important than damage control is starting a positive hype, which helps customers perceive your brand the way you intend them to.
  • Deal with customer reviews. A dedicated PR team can determine which comments need to be addressed and how. In times of a PR disaster, they can also craft a plan so negative situations don’t boil over and to help businesses bounce back unscathed.

See how we’ve done it for businesses for more than 25 years, and get in touch so we can help improve your brand’s online reputation too!

Jossaine Nunez
Jossaine Nunez is a freelance article writer, blogger, and SEO-driven maven. While her true passion lies in writing fiction, her love for storytelling extends to helping brands convey their message in ways that are both engaging and helpful for attaining their business goals. Jossaine’s interests in writing particularly about people, for people – which translates to brand audience engagement – stems from her experience as the Editor-In-Chief of Siliman University’s The Weekly Silimanian, which published slices of life and educational pieces surrounding university life. Her piece, A Review of Leoncio Deriada’s People on Guerrero Street, published in the Silliman Journal on discussions and investigations in the humanities and sciences, earmarks her foray into the world of writing about, and writing for, humans that make the world go round.