For businesses of every size across every industry, online brand reputation has become one of the most powerful drivers of revenue and growth.
Whether you’re managing a small- or medium-sized business with one location or an enterprise-level organization with hundreds or thousands of business locations, your ability to monitor, influence, and improve the way your brand is perceived online by existing and potential customers can spell the difference between winning and losing.
This is where brand reputation protection comes in.
Why the Need for Brand Reputation Protection?
With the increasing amount of channels available for customers to voice their opinions and experiences about brands online, brand reputation protection has become a full-time job.
And with the focus slowly but surely shifting to online review sites, social media platforms, and search engines, the reputation of your brand is no longer influenced as heavily by traditional offline media, advertising, and brand-centric content as it used to be.
Brand reputation is now painted by what consumers are saying online, in online reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor, comments and photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and even search rankings and rich snippets on Google.
- Search: 68 percent of consumers say that at least half of their local searches result in a visit to a business. These visits eventually translate into sales, with at least half of local searches eventually leading to a purchase for 58 percent of consumers. (2017 Local Search Survey)
- Social media: 83 percent of consumers say they discover new businesses, services, and products on a monthly basis through social media before other sources. (Social Media Link)
- Ratings and reviews: Approximately 4 in 5 American consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. 79 percent do so to make sure the product or service is good, 61 percent read reviews to make sure the product or service works, and 53 percent read reviews to make sure that they don’t get ripped off. (YouGov)
In order to effectively protect your brand reputation today, you must be able to manage the conversations and customer feedback being generated on search, social media, and ratings and review platforms.
Brand Reputation Protection: Search
Looking to maximize your visibility and protect your brand on search engine results pages? To help you achieve search success, follow these best practices:
Manage your business information using Google My Business. One of the most effective ways to improve your search performance is by claiming your business listing and managing your information using Google My Business.
Be as detailed as possible when entering your business information. Include your business name, category, map location and service area, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, etc. At all times, make sure your information is correct, complete, and up-to-date.
Ensure NAP (name, address, phone) and local data consistency. When creating or claiming your business listing on Google as well as your brand pages on online review websites, local search services, business directories, and data aggregators (think YP.com, Citysearch, etc.), ensure that you provide consistent business information across the Web.
Consistency in entering your NAP (name, address, phone number) information is particularly important. If your data appears to be unstable, inconsistent, or outdated, search engines are less likely to reward your business listing with a high search ranking.
Manage business listings and citations. The work you do to set up Google My Business as well as to ensure NAP consistency can be described as being part of a larger search engine marketing effort involving the building of “citations.”
“Citations” simply refer to mentions of your business name on the Web, along with other key information, with or without a link back to your website. Citations are considered an important local search signal, and the quantity and quality of citations that you have can make a direct impact on your SEO performance.
Brand Reputation Protection: Social Media
Promote your social media presence. By its nature, social media creates opportunities to exponentially expand your network, extend your brand’s reach, and grow your audience.
Don’t limit your efforts to a company website and blog. Let people know they can also find you on Facebook, Twitter, Google, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and other platforms. This shows your brand authenticity, transparency, and openness to feedback, which can be the most critical factor to succeeding on social media.
Resolve issues. If your customers are talking about their experiences and raising issues on social media, you need to act quickly and find resolutions. Social media has transformed how brands handle complaints and respond to customers’ needs and expectations.
If you aren’t already providing “social” care and support, here’s something to consider: close to 50 percent of US consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or make complaints.
You’ll also like: “4 Social Media Monitoring Tools for Tracking Your Brand”
Brand Reputation Protection: Ratings, Reviews, and Customer Feedback
Respond to customer feedback. One of the best ways you can protect your brand reputation is by responding to online reviews and customer feedback: positive, negative, and neutral.
- When to respond? 51.7 percent of customers expect a response to a negative review in seven days or less, according to research by ReviewTrackers. Respond as quickly as possible.
Responding to reviews shows your existing and potential customers that you care about what they say and you value their opinions and experiences.
- How to respond to negative reviews: To ensure you are making the most out of your review responses, make sure they are as personalized as possible. Here are some tips for responding to reviews:
- Explain it’s not normal, and not okay
- Promise you’ll do better next time (and mean it)
- Ask them to come back
- Sign your name and, if necessary, take the conversation offline
- Respond to positive reviews, too: It’s just as important for your brand reputation protection efforts to respond to positive reviews. Why? Because just as prospective customers will see your responses to negative reviews, they will also see responses to positive reviews, which shows that you are receptive to customer feedback.
Invest in feedback tools that drive efficiency. Protecting the reputation of your brand is a lot of work, and may occasionally feel like managing a billion business locations all at once. To stay efficient, consider investing in reputation management software that centralizes your reviews and ratings, analyzes customer feedback, and delivers actionable insights on the customer experience.
Invest in Brand Reputation Protection
When you invest in brand reputation, you are investing in customer loyalty and trust. Customers will be engaged with your brand if you show you care. Manage and respond to what customers are saying online on search, social media, and review platforms. Staying engaged with customers in the channels where they are talking will give your brand rock-solid protection and help your company succeed.