Managing brand reputation remains a crucial aspect of building and maintaining your brand’s image online. Take online reviews, for example. Around 76% of consumers rely on them when researching businesses.
This means that a negative review or comment can have a significant impact on your reputation and, in turn, your business’s success. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive in managing your online reputation.
But what exactly is online reputation management (ORM)? And how do you know that you’re doing it right?
In this guide, we’ll help you understand the ins and outs of ORM, why it’s essential for your business, and online reputation management tips that you can use to keep your brand’s image in great shape. We’ll look at:
• What Is Online Reputation Management?
• Do You Need Online Reputation Management? Six Reasons Why the Answer Is Yes
• Four Most Common Types of Online Brand Reputation Management
• Five Online Reputation Management Tips to Consider
• Next Steps: Build Your Own Online Reputation Management Program
What Is Online Reputation Management?
If you’ve heard of public relations, then you’re already familiar with the concept of ORM.
Just like how public relations (PR) professionals work to shape and maintain a company’s image in the media, online business reputation management involves actively monitoring and influencing your brand’s perception on the Internet.
But it’s not just about managing your brand’s image. ORM also involves addressing any negative content or reviews that may arise and taking proactive measures to improve your online presence.
“Online reputation management is building up positive reviews, testimonials and content online to have a positive reputation through digital channels like Google,” said Tim Clarke, Thrive’s Senior Reputation Manager.
He explains that ORM “can affect a company’s bottom line and 100% of online brands work on it now,” which is why it’s becoming an increasingly important part of a business’s marketing strategy.
Basically, you do these four things when managing brand reputation:
• Monitor: Keep an eye on what people are saying about your brand online.
• Respond: Clarke cites non-responsiveness as a key pitfall in an ORM strategy. Address negative comments and reviews in a timely and professional manner.
• Improve: Proactively work on improving your online presence through various means, such as content marketing and social media management.
• Promote: Use positive reviews and content to boost your brand’s reputation online.
You can think of online reputation management as a continuous process of building, maintaining and improving your brand’s online image.
If someone searches for your company online, what do they see? Ideally, you want them to find a well-managed, positive and accurate representation of your brand. That’s where ORM comes in.
Do You Need Online Reputation Management? Six Reasons Why the Answer Is Yes
So, what makes managing brand reputation a necessity? There are several reasons why every business, big or small, should invest in ORM.
“Online reputation management affects a company’s sales, marketing, revenue and really the entire digital marketing profile of a business,” said Clarke, proving that ORM is embedded in the success of a business.
Here are six reasons why you should invest in managing brand reputation:
1. Increased Trust and Credibility
As more consumers turn to the internet for information, having a positive online presence can significantly impact their perception of your brand.
Think about what happened with United Airlines in 2017 when a video of a passenger being dragged off a plane went viral. It caused severe damage to the brand’s reputation and resulted in a significant drop in stock prices.
Screenshots from Twitter (now known as X)
Now, imagine if United Airlines had a robust online reputation management strategy in place. This could have been what happened:
• The negative content could have been addressed and resolved quickly, showing the brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
• Positive reviews and content could have been promoted, counteracting the negative impact of the viral video.
Doing these things would have helped to maintain the trust and credibility of the brand, mitigating the damage caused by negative content.
2. Enhanced Visibility in Search Rankings
While at first glance ORM may seem like a defensive strategy to protect your brand from negative content, it can also be used offensively to increase your brand’s visibility and reach.
In fact, the higher your website appears in search engine rankings, the more likely consumers will trust and choose your brand over competitors.
“ORM enhances your brand equity and visibility by improving your lead sources and conversion rate,” said Clarke.
“Positive reviews help generate more leads and sales through the power of the Internet. “
Managing reputation for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes entails:
• Setting up a Google Business Profile and other listings
• Encouraging reviews from customers
• Using keywords on your listings and website
• Updating and optimizing your online profiles regularly
This Multiple-Location Residential Foundation Repair Company integrated ORM into its strategy and yielded over 1,100 words in 2021, with increased organic traffic, conversions and website users :
The company also improved its rankings across its service locations in Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, Frisco, TX and Plano. It did this by generating more reviews and optimizing its Business Profiles in each service location.
Once you have established a solid online presence and built up your reputation, potential customers are more likely to find you when searching for products or services you offer.
3. Greater Customer Engagement
Nobody wants to talk to a company with a bad reputation. By managing your online presence and promoting positive content, you are more likely to engage with potential customers.
Customers who trust and have a positive perception of your brand are more willing to interact and engage with your business.
This could mean:
• Leaving reviews
• Sharing positive experiences on social media
• Recommending your brand to friends and family
When you invest in your reputation, you get more positive reviews like this:
Case study: Healthcare and Review Response
Customer engagement is only good when it’s positive, so managing brand reputation can play a crucial role in fostering a strong customer base.
4. Effective Crisis Management
In good times or bad, a reputation management strategy is essential for any business.
In the event of a crisis, such as a negative review or social media backlash, having a plan in place can help mitigate damage and control the narrative.
This is how a multi-location residential management company’s reputation management team responds to negative feedback to prevent it from escalating:
Case study: Multi-Location Residential Management Company
By addressing negative feedback promptly and professionally, you can show that your brand values customer satisfaction and is willing to make things right.
5. Insights Into Customer Preferences and Feedback
Company reputation management is essential for any digital marketing strategy.
Because of the evergreen insights you’ll get from customer feedback as you manage online reputation.
You’ll know what someone likes about your brand and what needs improvement. In the long run, this information helps you make informed decisions about your products or services and improve overall customer satisfaction.
6. Positive Impact on Sales and Revenue
Online business reputation management is ultimately an investment that can boost your bottom line.
When people talk about your brand, they can become your brand ambassadors and help promote your business to potential customers. If people see you’re constantly improving your products or services based on customer feedback, they’ll be more likely to trust and invest in your brand.
You become a natural choice for consumers because of your positive reputation, leading to more sales, less churn and increased revenue.
4 Most Common Types of Online Brand Reputation Management
Managing your online reputation isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Different situations call for different approaches, and it’s crucial to understand the various types of online reputation management so you can effectively handle any situation that arises.
Here are the four most common types of online brand reputation management:
1. Reputation Repair
This type of corporate reputation management is necessary when your brand’s image has taken a hit due to a number of things, such as:
• Negative reviews
• Bad press
• Customer complaints
What you typically do with reputation repair campaigns is to push down negative content and replace it with positive content. This involves creating new, high-quality content that highlights your brand’s strengths and addresses any negative comments or reviews.
The goal is to rebuild trust with your audience and show them that you are actively working to improve your reputation.
2. Franchise Reputation Management
Managing multiple locations at the same time comes with its own reputation risks as well.
If one location receives a lot of negative feedback, it can tarnish the reputation of your entire franchise. What’s more, each location may have different online profiles and reviews to manage, making it even more challenging.
Having a reputation management strategy specialized for franchises is crucial to ensure consistent, positive messaging across all locations. As you manage online reputation, this involves:
• Managing your listings: Ensure that all your franchise locations have accurate information and consistent branding on various review sites, directories and social media platforms.
• Improving review response times: Responding promptly and professionally to customer reviews can help mitigate the impact of negative feedback.
• Monitoring reviews across all locations: Keeping track of reviews for all your franchise locations allows you to identify trends and address any issues proactively.
• Review-generation campaigns: Encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews for your franchise locations can help boost your overall online reputation.
The goal is to maintain a positive and consistent image for your franchise as a whole while also addressing any individual location issues in a timely and effective manner.
3. Social Media Reputation Management
With the ever-growing use of social media, it’s essential to manage your online reputation across all platforms.
But how does this differ from pure social media management?
While social media management focuses on creating and scheduling content, social media reputation management involves actively managing your brand’s online presence and addressing any issues or negative feedback that may arise.
Here’s what it looks like:
• Online communities: Engaging with your followers and responding to their comments or concerns can help build a positive reputation for your brand on social media.
• General brand management: Monitoring mentions, hashtags and tags related to your brand allows you to address any negative feedback or misinformation in a timely manner.
• Corporate and brand profiles: By creating valuable content, you can create a strong social media following and establish a positive reputation for your brand.
Since social media is often the first point of contact for potential customers, having a positive and well-managed online presence is crucial for your company’s overall brand equity
4. Automated Reputation Management
Part of what makes online business reputation management challenging is keeping track of all the different platforms and channels where your brand is mentioned.
This is where reputation management software comes in, automating most of the heavy lifting we mentioned above. With reputation management online software, you can:
• Monitor and run a review generation campaign in real-time.
• Customize your review notification.
• Glance on data and analytics across your profiles and listings.
• Integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
This is what a personalized reputation management dashboard looks like:
If you need smart analytics, ORM software also offers a wide range of integration, lifting data from several supported platforms like Amazon, Clutch and BBB:
“Software integrations and automation help improve both quality and quantity of reviews,” said Clarke.
“If you don’t use these technologies, then you’re wasting time and resources for review response, monitoring and generation.”
Instead of manually checking each platform and responding to feedback, the software alerts you when there is activity related to your brand, making it easier to stay on top of your online presence.
5 Online Reputation Management Tips To Consider
Managing online reputation isn’t something that marketers made up, though – it’s something that many successful companies have been leveraging for years. With online reputation management strategies, companies can be proactive about building and maintaining a positive online brand.
Here are some companies that leveraged company reputation management in the past and how they did it:
1. Focus on Customer Experience and Swift Issue Resolution
You can take a leaf out of Amazon’s playbook and put your customers first. Its first of the 16 Leadership Principles – “Customer Obsession” – is what has helped the company build a solid online reputation and brand loyalty:
“Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
With such a vast customer base, Amazon can’t make every single one of them happy all the time. Amazon is infamous for its strict return policy, yet it has a strong reputation.
So, what’s the secret?
It makes people feel like they’re heard.
Its customer service section gives you extensive options on how you can reach it:
Screenshot from Amazon
This focus on customer service is what makes Amazon stand out and helps the company keep its customers’ trust.
2. Create Brand Ambassadors from Your Customers
In Apple’s case, its loyal fan base, also known as “Apple Evangelists,” promotes the brand for it. This is because Apple has always focused on creating products that people love and making them feel like a part of something special.
This has created a strong sense of community among its customers, who are more than happy to spread the word about their favorite brand.
Just take a look at the sheer number of user-generated content for its iPhone 15 lineup:
Screenshot from YouTube
That’s just a snippet of the thousands of videos uploaded by large and small creators, providing a free avenue for Apple advertising.
The key here is consistency in three things:
• Product Quality
• Customer experience
• Brand Messaging
Apple’s smooth and seamless integration of these three elements has helped it build a loyal following that not only promotes the brand but also defends it against any criticism.
3. Leverage Reactive Marketing Strategies
Nike’s positioning as a healthy and active lifestyle brand has been further reinforced through its reactive marketing strategies. These campaigns are in response to significant events or cultural moments, such as the Black Lives Matter movement or International Women’s Day.
Screenshot from Twitter
Screenshot from Nike
By taking a stand on important social issues, Nike not only generates buzz and engagement but also aligns itself with causes that resonate with its target audience.
Coupled with a broad reach (Nike has tons of social media accounts for each platform), these reputation management online strategies have helped the brand stay relevant and top of mind for its customers.
4. Build a Community Around Your Brand
Take a look at Starbucks’ mission:
Screenshot from Starbucks
What does it have to do with reputation and community-building, you ask?
Starbucks has always been more than just a coffee shop. It’s a safe and welcoming space for people to connect, whether it’s through their shared love for caffeine or meaningful conversations.
The brand actively fosters this sense of community through initiatives like:
• Starbucks Rewards Program
• Annual holiday cups and seasonal drinks, which have become a tradition for many customers
• Free Wi-Fi and comfortable seating areas to encourage people to stay and hang out
Through these efforts, Starbucks has cultivated a loyal community of customers who not only love their products but also feel connected to the brand on a deeper level. This strong sense of community has helped Starbucks weather controversies and maintain a positive reputation.
5. Consistency Always Wins
Remember when Coca-Cola had that health scare in Belgium in 1999?
The brand swiftly responded and recalled all affected products, but the damage had already been done. Sales plummeted, and trust in the brand took a hit.
But Coca-Cola didn’t let that one incident define it. Instead, the brand stayed consistent with its messaging and values, showcasing its commitment to quality and safety through various campaigns and initiatives.
Today, the company has Incident Management and Crisis Resolution (IMCR), where it has a team specifically dedicated to handling crises and protecting the brand’s reputation. This consistent focus on maintaining a positive and trustworthy image has helped Coca-Cola rebuild its reputation and regain customer trust.
Next Steps: Build Your Own Online Reputation Management Program
Now that you understand the importance of corporate reputation management and how top brands have successfully implemented it, it’s time to build your program.
While reputation management online strategies differ from one company to another, these are 10 steps you can follow to help you get started:
1. Identify Your Reputation Goals
The first thing you must do is get clear with your goals. What do you want to achieve with your company reputation management program?
• Do you want to build a positive image for your brand?
• Do you want to address any negative feedback or reviews?
• Do you want to monitor and track your brand’s online presence?
Identifying your goal will help your team escape the overwhelm of tackling all aspects of reputation management at once.
But how do you determine which goal is best for you?
First, assess your current reputation.
Conduct an audit of your online presence and see what customers are saying about you. Look for patterns in customer sentiment and identify any recurring issues or concerns.
Next, define your target audience and understand their expectations of your brand. This information helps you decide on the right reputation goals to focus on.
After auditing and understanding your current reputation and target audience, you can choose one or a combination of the three goals mentioned above. Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based) criteria to set actionable and measurable goals.
For instance, a clear and specific goal could be:
“Increase positive online reviews by 20% in the next six months.”
This allows you to track your progress and make necessary adjustments along the way.
2. Develop a Response Plan
After goal-setting comes planning, which isn’t just what you should do but a well-defined process of how you should do it. Developing a response plan helps you handle both positive and negative feedback in an organized and efficient manner.
Here’s how an online reputation repair plan would look like at a high level:
Image: Online Reputation Repair Plan
As you can see, the plan includes steps to monitor, respond to and follow up with customer feedback. It also involves taking necessary actions to address any negative reviews or comments.
It’s essential to have a clear response plan in place because it helps your team handle any reputation crisis promptly and effectively. Without a strategy, you risk making rash decisions or missing crucial feedback that could damage your brand’s reputation.
3. Optimize Your Online Presence
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many businesses neglect to optimize their online presence. Having an optimized website and social media profiles not only improves your search engine ranking but also gives potential customers a positive first impression.
Online listings like Google Business Profile and Yelp can only be maximized if you do the following:
• Include accurate and updated business information
• Add high-quality photos of your products or services
• Encourage customers to leave reviews on these listings
• Respond to reviews and address any concerns or issues
Here’s what a fully optimized Google Business Profile would look like if you searched for it:
The profile appears on the right side of the search engine results (SERPs), showcasing information about your business, such as contact numbers, Google Reviews and services.
Social media accounts are quite different since they require more active management, including creating engaging content, responding to comments and messages and monitoring any tagged or mentioned posts.
For instance, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies, while Instagram and Facebook (now Meta) are more suitable for consumer brands. So, it’s essential to know which platforms your target audience uses the most and focus on those.
4. Monitor Your Reputation
Managing your reputation doesn’t stop when you have optimized profiles and websites – it’s only the start. You must actively monitor your online reputation to catch any negative comments or reviews as early as possible.
“Monitor all the reviews for feedback trends and also use the five-star reviews for website testimonials and marketing,” said Clarke.
Since you have an online presence on several platforms, it’s best to use a reputation management tool to streamline the process. These tools can:
• Track mentions of your brand
• Monitor reviews and comments
• Provide sentiment analysis
Take a look at how this environmental company is leveraging automated monitoring to see its reputation status in real-time.
Here’s what their dashboard looks like before implementing an ORM strategy:
Case study: Environmental Company
After automating its email and SMS review requests and monitoring its reputation, the company increased its rating and number of reviews:
Case study: Environmental Company
If you don’t want to invest in a paid tool, you can manually monitor your reputation by setting up Google Alerts for your business name and regularly checking your social media accounts. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (now X) and Instagram actually let you monitor company mentions and tags, so you can still check them manually if you wish to.
5. Encourage Positive Reviews
It’s great to have an excellent product and service, but you can’t expect customers to leave positive reviews without a little nudge. So, don’t be afraid to encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews on your listings and social media accounts.
Here’s how you can generate positive reviews for your brand and company:
• Send follow-up emails after a purchase.
Image: Email widgets that encourage quick reviews of the company
• Offer incentives for leaving reviews.
• Create social media posts or stories asking for reviews from followers.
• Use review widgets and online forms on eCommerce websites.
Image: Custom review widgets displayed on a website
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews – most happy customers will be more than willing to leave a positive review if they had a good experience with your business.
6. Address Negative Reviews
But how about negative reviews? No matter how much you try to maintain a positive reputation, there will always be unhappy customers who leave negative comments or reviews. The key is to handle these situations with grace and care.
If you don’t know where to start, use this framework instead:
1. Acknowledge the review and apologize for the customer’s negative experience.
2. Offer a sincere solution or explanation to address their concerns.
3. Invite them to reach out directly to discuss further, if possible.
4. Thank them for their feedback and assure them that you will work on improving your service in the future.
As we said, negative reviews are not all bad – they can be an opportunity to showcase your excellent customer service and willingness to resolve issues.
7. Leverage Social Proof
If you don’t think you have social proof, think again. You have those things already, especially if you’ve been running a business for years and have worked with several customers already.
So, how can you find them? The best way to gather social proof is to ask for it. You can reach out to satisfied customers and ask them to write a short testimonial or review that you can use on your website or social media platforms.
If you want to be more in-depth, you can also conduct surveys or interviews to gather more detailed feedback and quotes from your customers. You can then collect all this feedback to create:
• Case studies
Screenshot from Thrive’s case study page
• Testimonials and reviews
Screenshot from Thrive’s homepage showcasing client success stories
Screenshot from Thrive’s Work Portfolio
These pieces of content are powerful in building your online reputation as they come from real customers, making them more relatable and trustworthy to potential clients.
8. Invest in Professional Reputation Management Services
Managing your reputation can surprisingly be a full-time job, especially if you have a significant online presence. As a business owner, your time is valuable and should be spent on other vital tasks, such as managing your team or growing your business.
Instead of going DIY and through trial and error, working with a professional reputation management service can save you time, effort and headaches. What’s more, you can also rely on their cross-channel and multi-industry expertise to build and maintain your online reputation effectively.
Reputation management services provide a range of services, such as:
• Online monitoring and analysis
• Content creation and distribution
• Social media management
• Search engine optimization (SEO)
• Crisis management
So, if you want to secure your online reputation and maintain a positive image, it’s worth considering investing in getting professional help.
9. Continually Update Your Strategy
New trends, tools and platforms emerge every time, so you have to keep up and adapt your strategy accordingly. Every few months, take some time to review and update your company reputation management strategy.
Use a mixture of proactive and reactive marketing strategies to keep your online reputation strong. Proactive online reputation management strategies include:
• Regularly creating and sharing valuable content
• Engaging with your audience on social media
• Monitoring mentions of your brand
On the other hand, reactive strategies involve leveraging relevant news, trends or events to boost your online presence and address any negative reviews or comments.
By continually updating your strategy, you can stay ahead of potential issues and maintain a positive image online.
No matter how robust you think your strategy is, it won’t stay perfect with the changing times. Be open to new ideas and ways to improve your reputation management approach.
Make Your Brand Shine With Thrive
Your online reputation is vital for the success of your brand and the campaigns you run. Use this guide as your go-to resource for building and maintaining a solid online reputation.
If you think that your business couldn’t manage online reputation management alone, consider working with Thrive. Our experts have years of experience in managing and improving the online presence of companies around the world.
We offer a full-service digital marketing package, including corporate reputation management, search engine optimization, social media marketing and more.
Contact us and let your reputation grow with Thrive.