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Brand reputation can be hard to quantify, especially with many factors affecting how consumers see and interact with your business. Social media platforms, review sites and search results all have a noticeable impact on the reputation equation, but how they ultimately come together to shape your company’s image and status among stakeholders is often a big question mark.
Without a clear picture of how people are “scoring” your business online, building an effective brand reputation strategy to control or shape your brand image may seem like throwing darts in the dark.
But even with that uncertainty, there are still actions your team can take to steer the online conversation in your favor and build a brand reputation management approach that nudges consumers closer to the sale.
While these “best practices” aren’t always foolproof, they can provide your brand reputation management efforts some much-needed firepower in a volatile and unpredictable online environment.
1. Track your brand on search and social
Calculating your more significant brand reputation score can be difficult. But conducting regular searches of your brand on Google and social media sites can at least help highlight what people are seeing and what they’re saying about your business online. Regularly auditing your search results and brand footprint across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other platforms allows you to understand consumer sentiment better and identify problems before they spiral out of control.
At the very least, this process puts your marketing team in the know and helps prevent costly online surprises that can eat up your brand’s reputation.
Related: How to Manage (and Monitor) Your Reputation on Social Media
2. When you find customer feedback, take time to respond
Consumers expect engagement, whether it’s a positive comment on Facebook or negative feedback on Yelp. Not only that, but they expect you to respond to their concerns quickly. Even if the issue is beyond resolution or not something you can tend to immediately, it’s critical to show you’re paying attention and prioritizing people’s concerns.
A prompt, measured feedback response plan is essential for cultivating brand loyalty and heading off online reputation crises before they snowball. Sometimes, it can even turn a bad experience into public praise and a major positive for your business.
3. Request online reviews from satisfied customers
When wielded correctly, online reviews can quickly become powerful brand reputation management tools, providing a significant jolt to customer confidence and trust while sharpening your competitive edge.
Many potential customers seek out company reviews when researching your business. Customer reviews in search engines play a pivotal role in decision-making, serving up persuasive social proof consumers use to learn and evaluate your brand online.
Encouraging happy customers to leave reviews helps increase your review footprint; they create even more positive reviews for prospects to find during the due diligence process. The more positive brand mentions you have on the web, the better your brand’s public perception and your overall brand reputation. Knowing how to request reviews that continually demonstrate customer satisfaction is a brand reputation management strategy you can’t do without.
Related: Here’s How to Get Your Customers to Leave Positive Reviews (And Why You Can’t Afford Not To)
4. Build your following on social media
Social media offers a variety of ways to create and manage a positive brand reputation, But few are as powerful as generating a strong brand following. Select users who not only interact with your brand but willingly distribute brand content and consistently advocate for your business and offerings are invaluable.
Cultivating brand advocates begins by actively initiating discussions and sharing content people want to engage with. Informative blogs, how-to videos, surveys and other interactive shares give users a reason to follow your business and make meaningful connections that engender trust and customer loyalty. Setting a regular social media schedule ensures this content is delivered regularly and reliably, further strengthening the bonds with your audience.
Encouraging brand advocacy among your employees can also be a highly effective brand reputation management practice. However, well-defined rules should guide internal engagement and keep the conversation honest and positive.
5. Be honest with your audience
Fake reviewers and social media bots can wreak havoc on your online reputation, and when they launch attacks against your brand, you’re well within your rights to pursue a content removal option. But when it comes to honest reviews and comments, trying to delete the problem can sometimes have severe consequences for your business, creating an online backlash that could haunt you well into the future.
Directly addressing genuine complaints on social and review sites is generally the best way to manage such negativity and reduce its overall impact on your brand reputation. It also demonstrates a level of honesty that can resonate with consumers.
6. Define your objectives clearly
What is it you want to gain from your online reputation management efforts? Whichever platforms and methods you’re using to beef up your brand reputation, it’s important to have actionable, achievable, clearly defined objectives to shoot for before diving in. Broader goals like increasing brand visibility and improving brand awareness may be your end game, but defining specific outcomes (increased shares, likes, reviews, etc.) provides the more explicit focus your team needs to take action and hit key reputation benchmarks.
Related: Smart Tips for Setting and Actually Achieving Your Business Goals
7. Identify your target audience
Brand reputations often vary based on the people you’re trying to reach. And while it’s critical to build a positive image that comes with as many people as possible, knowing the specific stakeholders you need to impress ensures you’re generating content and taking actions that have maximum impact on your credibility.
Identifying your target audience and their needs allows you not just to calibrate your efforts but to more effectively communicate your message and make a real connection.