For any customer-centric organization, reputation measurement is an essential way to understand how people feel about your brand and what they think of when they come across your company’s products and services.
In the digital age, your company must take an active approach to reputation measurement with particular focus on digital properties and social platforms. Ideally, you’ll have a team that guides you throughout the process, along with a reputation management software solution that positively shapes and influences your brand.
Reputation Metrics: How Do You Evaluate Your Reputation?
When getting started on how to measure brand reputation, consider these questions:
- Is your brand well-known online? Does it have a good following on social media and other digital platforms?
- How do customers and leads perceive your brand, and what is the underlying sentiment behind their interactions and experiences with your business?
- What kind of content appears on search engine results pages, business review sites, and social networks whenever your business or brand is being searched? Is the content positive, neutral, or negative?
- How does your brand reputation stack up against competitors? Does your company have an understanding of industry benchmarks to help influence your goals?
To answer these questions, your company should be able to identify and measure key brand reputation metrics. Here’s a foundational list to get you started.
PageRank is search engine giant Google’s link analysis algorithm, used to assign a numerical weighting for measuring the “relative importance” of your Web page or website. PageRank has always been an important metric for SEO professionals, but PageRank should also be a key metric that brand managers and marketing leaders should consider. (PRChecker.info is one of many free easy-to-use tools.)
PageRank gives an indication of how many of your inbound links originate from authority sites. The more respected, popular, trustworthy, and authoritative your business or brand is, the higher your PageRank becomes. While this isn’t the only metric for quantifying reputation, it’s important to find out where you are in the PageRank scale — and, from there, figure out ways to improve.
Online Reviews and Ratings
Monitoring your online reviews across multiple websites is a key reputation measurement strategy, but don’t stop there. Be sure to have a system in place for engaging with customers, learning how to respond to negative reviews and well as positive feedback, and making smart business decisions based on review insights.
Today’s top brands and enterprises often leverage natural language processing (NLP) technology in order to analyze reviews and more accurately measure reputational impact. Because reviews can be labor-intensive to read through and digest, NLP-powered customer experience analytics solutions can be implemented to measure and even predict specific emotional qualities — angry, fearful, happy, sad, etc. — in customer reviews.
Social Media Likes and Followers
Social media is a great platform for keeping your finger on the pulse of your online reputation. The number of people who like or follow your Facebook business Page, for example, shows how many users are ready and willing to attach themselves to your brand. (No one, after all, would like the Facebook Page of a brand with poor online reputation.)
The same can be said about other platforms like Twitter and Instagram. If people are following and engaging meaningfully with your brand on these networks, it means that your social media marketing efforts must have a reputation for having something valuable to offer.
Hootsuite has a built-in social media analytics tool that makes it easy to compare aggregate results across networks. This simplifies organizations’ social media reputation measurement work. Hootsuite’s reporting capabilities can track: clicks, comments, reach, shares, video views, video reach, follower growth over time, productivity response time, and resolution time for assigned posts, mentions, and comments.
Repeat Website Visits
Your organization already likely integrates analytics into your website development strategy. If so, take a look at the number of repeat visits your site (or other core web property) is getting.
A user may visit your website, product pages, or company blog once and then decide never to come back again. But if they think highly of your content — if what’s on the page projects a positive reputation and offers a positive experience to those who visit your site — it makes sense that your site should draw repeat visitors.
You can reference a tool like Google Analytics to see how the content on your site influences repeat visits. Each month, spend time reviewing your most popular URLs, checking which topics resonate the most with visitors, and making the necessary adjustments to how you approach visitor engagement.
Bookmarks and Subscriptions
Like PageRank, bookmarks serve as a good indicator of how many people trust your brand. Internet users tend to bookmark a page or website if they find it useful, or if they think it has something worthwhile to make them keep visiting.
The same goes with subscriptions. Few, if any, will subscribe to a business or brand with a negative reputation. If your subscription base is growing, it means that customers and leads are relying on your brand for thought leadership and getting value from the content you have to offer.
Why Measure Brand Reputation?
Why is reputation measurement important? Let’s closely examine why reputation measurement should be an investment priority for your organization.
In 2008, singer-songwriter Dave Carroll arrived in Chicago’s O’Hare airport for a layover and discovered that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had been damaged by the baggage handlers of United Airlines.
He repeatedly tried to get a process claimed, but United said no and refused to reimburse him. Carroll then sent emails, made phone calls, pleaded with the airline’s customer service reps, and suggested that $1,200 in flight vouchers would be enough to compensate for the damaged guitar. United wouldn’t budge.
He decided to do what he did best instead. He wrote a song, called “United Breaks Guitars,” which then went viral.
“United Breaks Guitars” now has over 20 million views on YouTube. At the 150,000-viewer mark, United decided to offer Carroll payment to take the video down; he suggested that the airline donate the money to charity instead.
According to the Times, United Airlines’ stock price plunged by 10% within four days of the song going online, costing shareholders as much as $180 million. This isn’t to mention the tsunami of bad PR and negative online comments that came United’s way.
A cheeky 4-minute song is unlikely to be the only reason (or even the main reason) for the airline’s staggering loss. However, in the age of the Internet as an impactful platform, “United Breaks Guitars” made a very real impact on the brand reputation of United Airlines, which could have very easily put things right, but never did.
Invest in Reputation Measurement Today
“United Break Guitars” presents a strong case for managing and measuring reputation, which is an investment area you have to focus on over the lifetime of your business. If not, you’ll be leaving yourself vulnerable to nightmares such as the one United had.
Reputation measurement saves money. “United Breaks Guitars” would probably not have happened if the airline simply agreed to pay Carroll the $1,200 in flight vouchers that he had asked for. Instead, saving $1,200 cost United Airlines 20 million negative impressions, and that’s on YouTube alone. A Google search of “United Breaks Guitars” produces approximately 1 million results.
If you know how to monitor and measure reputation, it will positively impact the financial health of your company. It saves money in the long run and also strengthens your entire foundation, so that a negative social media comment, a critical online review, or an unflattering search result won’t send your brand reeling.
This does not mean that your location managers should have a stack of gift vouchers handy every single time a customer complains. See the big picture and structure your investments accordingly.
- Establish brand guidelines and ensure that these are followed at all levels of the organization.
- Foster a customer experience management culture in which everyone takes part in developing and evangelizing your brand.
- Implement tools, training, and technology that enable you to stay on top of your online and offline reputation.
- Manage unsolicited feedback and respond proactively to customer needs and expectations.
- Have crisis communication plans and reputation management and protection measures in place for worst-case scenarios.
Reputation measurement keeps you in business. Even though you may feel like you have no control over what people say or think — that your brand reputation is all based on their perceptions — sound reputation measurement practices and brand management skills will give you the ability to influence those perceptions.
This can then drive increased awareness, engagement, and customer loyalty, and enhances your business’ capacity to endure.
Reputation measurement fosters trust. Consumer trust is something you cannot buy. It certainly can’t be won by simply spending money on ads or embarking on massive blitz campaigns.
“Advertising can help build brands,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “But authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
Authenticity resonates. That’s why it’s so important to invest in your brand reputation and make it the kind that consumers find authentic, and can therefore trust.
Reputation measurement creates stakeholder value. Your brand is more than just your trade name, logo, and tagline or slogan. It’s one of your most valuable and important business assets and a major factor in determining what your company is really worth.
Be wary of negative reviews and social media comments that might fester undetected in the background, quietly causing damage to your reputation. Not only does this make you look unattractive to customers; your own employees’ sense of pride might take a hit, too.
Sadly, a majority of businesses are not investing enough in their brand reputation. At the very least, by measuring and monitoring it, you can help prevent avoidable problems in your organization. More importantly, it provides reassurance that everyone who comes into contact with your brand — customers, prospects, suppliers, the media, employees, and stakeholders — will have a reliably positive, engaging, and valuable experience.