The Importance of Brand Reputation Management
Thursday 21st September
by Beth Perrin
The Importance of Brand Reputation Management
Thursday 21st September 2023
We were delighted to recently be named Online Reputation Experts of the Year in SME News’ Southern Enterprise Awards 2023 - an accolade that recognises our dedication to providing comprehensive reputation management services to our wide range of clients across social media and other digital channels, every day of the year. This achievement makes it the perfect time for us to discuss the importance of brand reputation management, which refers to the process of monitoring and maintaining the public’s perception of your business, both online and offline.
Reputation management means ensuring that people have a positive impression of your brand, whether that’s on social media, through reviews, or spoken word of mouth. Read on to find out why it’s a critical activity for companies from all industries, and how you can boost your reputation if yours is currently struggling.
Why a Positive Reputation is Essential
Having a positive reputation is vital if you want your brand to perform well. In fact, a shift from an ‘average’ to ‘excellent’ reputation score has been proven to yield a 3.2x increase in trust. It will also help your business:
• Gain respect
People are more likely to view your brand as an industry leader if others are speaking positively about it.
• Make more sales
Customers don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on companies that have bad reviews and are known for selling low-quality products.
• Foster loyalty
One-off shoppers will become loyal customers if they know they can trust your brand to provide a consistently great experience.
• Increase advocacy
A positive reputation means your customers will happily recommend your brand to their friends and family.
• Stand out from competitors
When choosing a brand from a range of competitors, customers will of course pick the one that is most highly rated.
• Hire new employees
Candidates are more likely to apply for positions at your business if they know it’s a good place to work and that they’ll be treated well.
How to Determine Your Current Reputation
While it can seem daunting to discover what people really think of your brand, it’s important not to be ignorant of your reputation. There are a number of processes you can carry out to determine your current status, including:
• Sentiment analysis
Sort all of your incoming social media messages and comments from the last month into positive, negative and neutral categories. Take note of which category ends up being the fullest.
• Social listening
Track keywords and phrases across social media that relate to your brand - plus your brand name itself - to find out what people are saying about it, both directly and indirectly.
• In-person surveys
Ask members of the public how they feel about your brand and where they would rank it against your competitors.
• Customer reviews
Take a look at the reviews your brand is receiving on feedback platforms such as Google, Tripadvisor and Trustpilot - are they mostly positive or negative?
• Press and external media
If your brand is big enough to be mentioned in newspapers, magazines, on TV and other media outlets, is it being discussed positively or negatively?
Ways to Improve Your Brand Reputation
If the steps listed above reveal that your reputation is in need of improvement, it’s time to start implementing key business changes that will boost your image and change people’s minds about your brand.
• Improve the quality of your product/service
First and foremost, if people are unhappy with the product or service you’re providing, this is the best place to start. Does it fall apart after only being used a handful of times? Is the food being served in your restaurant cold or tasteless? Is your app constantly crashing or loading slowly? Use the steps in the section above to identify your customers’ specific pain points and work closely with your product development team to improve your offering.
• Improve your processes
Whether it’s the packaging you use to deliver your items, your shipping costs and policies, or the wait times in your restaurant, aspects other than your physical product can also have a huge impact on your brand reputation.
• Provide better customer service
73% of consumers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad customer service experiences, so if you’re making mistakes in this department - such as responding slowly or taking too long to solve problems - it could be time to give your support strategy an overhaul. Discover some common examples of poor customer service and learn how to avoid them in this blog post.
• Post high-quality content on social media
Publishing low-quality posts on your brand’s social media pages is another surefire way to damage your reputation. Only post content that is genuinely valuable to your audience and represents your brand in the best way possible. Always double check your spelling and grammar before hitting publish, and use high-resolution images, videos and graphics. For large brands with many social media pages being run by different people (such as a nationwide pub chain), it’s essential to carry out regular audits to ensure that everyone is following the same guidelines and that nobody is sharing content that is harmful to the brand’s overall reputation.
• Respond to reviews
70% of people agree that a brand’s response to a review has the power to change their perception of it, so it’s crucial to reply to all of your incoming reviews, whether they’re positive or negative. Thank happy customers for their kind words and gently encourage them to make repeat purchases, and help find solutions for unhappy customers who have had bad experiences.
• Establish a crisis management plan
Every brand should have a comprehensive crisis management procedure in place so that if a negative online event begins to spiral out of control (such as a viral customer complaint or a false allegation from an ex-employee), everyone on your digital team knows what to do. This involves pausing any scheduled content, temporarily prioritising the crisis over other ongoing conversations, and issuing a response or apology that reassures your audience and protects your brand reputation.
• Avoid risky partnerships
While collaborations can be an excellent way to boost brand awareness and expand your reach, partnering with a controversial brand or divisive figure can put your reputation at risk. Always do your research before requesting a collaboration, and only work with brands and influencers whose values align with yours.
• Encourage employee advocacy
Your employees know your brand inside and out, making them some of the best people to sing its praises online - both to customers and potential job candidates. Encourage them to speak positively about your brand on social media (especially on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn) and to share any achievements made by the business. Up to 69% of job seekers say they would reject a job offered by a company with a bad reputation, proving that a poor brand image can harm your recruitment efforts too.
Outsource Your ORM to a Dedicated Agency
If you’d like to improve your brand’s reputation but don’t have enough time or internal resources to conduct the necessary steps yourself, don’t forget you can outsource this task to an external agency like 3sixfive. We’re experts in managing the social and digital profiles of many large UK brands and our reputation management specialists are available 365 days a year to respond to customer enquiries, complaints and reviews. We can also conduct human-led sentiment analysis and audits to help you build a bigger picture of your brand’s online image and identify your current strengths and weaknesses.
Despite its huge importance, your brand reputation should never be a cause for worry or stress. With the right monitoring tools in place, you’ll be able to confidently keep track of your online image and calmly address any reputation risks before they spiral into bigger issues. Conversations about your brand are happening all the time, which may be out of your control - but having a strong reputation management strategy means you can ensure that whatever is being said accurately reflects the company image you’re looking to build and maintain. Get in touch to learn how our award-winning team can assist!
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