Online reputation management in-and-out: what’s, why’s, and software [2021]

Tom
February 19, 2021 ・ 19 min read

In our economy, 70-80% of value comes from intangible assets such as brand equity and intellectual goods which make, or break, the reputation of a business. Reputation, therefore, is a valuable and vulnerable asset. What’s more, tracking online reputation can be a great source of business intelligence that, in the end, can give you competitive advantage. But let’s start slow.

Reputation is an outcome; but it is also a valuable, strategic asset.

Consumers talk about products and brands on social media, share feedback, opinions, or discuss product recommendations. Influencers, industry experts, and the media share reviews that reach hundreds of thousands of people.

Good online reputation of a business is key to winning the hearts of consumers. Particularly now, during and post COVID-19 pandemics. With the lockdown of brick-and-mortar stores, consumer went online shopping. COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation and lead to a surge in ecommerce.

Since a considerable part of commerce moved online, online reputation of a business has become even more important.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is a process of monitoring, measuring, and influencing the public perception of an organization or an individual on the Internet. Online reputation influences the business performance and processes of an entity.

In practice, online reputation management includes various internal and external activities that help analyze, monitor, and manage the reputation of a business. These activities are meant to earn, maintain and build the positive reputation and image of the company. Some of them include:

  • Media and online media monitoring
  • Online reviews monitoring and management
  • SEO and search engine reputation
  • Advocacy and influencer marketing
  • PR

Why is online reputation management important?

Online reputation management is definitely worth looking after as it’s influences business performance.

Here are a couple of reasons why you should pay attention to online reputation management.

Benefits of well-managed online reputation

  • Your well-managed online reputation can be treated as a competitive advantage. At some point, your potential customers will be deciding whether to buy your or your competitor’s product. Believe me, they will likely choose the brand with a stronger online reputation.
  • If you want to establish top-of-mind awareness, which refers to a brand or specific product being first in customers’ minds when thinking of a particular industry or category, you need to manage your online reputation. It will make you more visible on the market and among competitors. The more people talk about your brand online, especially in a positive way, the more popular you will get.
  • A strong online reputation is a confirmation of your credibility, and the best social proof you can think of. It certifies the quality and value of your product or service. Reputation makes your brand more trustworthy. It is a sign of your customers’ loyalty and attachment.

Online reputation is extremely important for every type of brand. Research shows that 85% of potential customers use the Internet to research the company before they decide to make a purchase. That is why it is important to stay in control of it and manage your online image.

Online reputation management apart from obviously maintaining your positive brand image, can additionally help you with preventing public relations crises, reducing churn, strengthening your relationships with clients, reaching new customers, building your online presence.

Now, let’s find out which activities will help you with online reputation management.

Best online reputation management practices

Online reputation management is a set of actions required to manage the online reputation of an entity.

We can talk about two kinds of actions to online reputation management – internal and external ones.

How to start?

First of all, online reputation management starts before any actions on the Web and in social media – the first steps are about gathering, analyzing, making sense of data, and turning it into actions.

If you’re a small or medium company, the very first step should be implementing a web and social media monitoring tool – it will be much more affordable than hiring reputation management companies I mentioned before.

What for?

  • To collect online mentions about your business
  • To see sentiment analysis of these mentions
  • To see the volume of conversation about your business
  • All in all, to get a picture of the online presence of your business

Keeping up with customer’s thoughts and opinions can help you spot problem areas first, prevent PR crises, reach out to both satisfied and dissatisfied customers, build relationships with them and react before it’s too late. All of these actions will let you be in control of your brand reputation.

Once data is gathered, it’s time to go through it with a prying eye for:

  • Mentions from influential web and social media authors as they reach many people
  • Negative mentions and reviews
  • Suggestions of improvements
  • Customer pain points
  • Positive feedback and reviews

This process gives an idea of the online reputation of a business.

In the next step, you should focus on the analysis of your reputation and drawing conclusions. It’s time to give your findings a thought, think about what you can improve, and turn it into actions.

Example: You stumble upon numerous complaints about a long response time to customer queries. Since the only people to respond to customers seeking help are yourself and your partner, and you’re already overwhelmed with other responsibilities, you realize these complaints are true to the bone. To satisfy your customers and improve your reputation in terms of customer service, you need to hire a full-time customer service assistant. From this moment, your customers will be taken care of immediately and your reputation in their eyes will improve.

This is where online reputation management influences the performance and processes of a business.

What’s next?

In my theory, external online reputation management activities depend on influencing an online perception of a company. It means a whole bunch of actions to communicate, shape, and protect the online reputation of a company in social media and beyond.

  • Proactively responding to positive online mentions of business
  • Proactively responding to negative mentions and reviews

Do not neglect any opinions made about you, especially online. Try to understand every client’s point of view and appreciate every word of suggestion or advice they give you. Listening to feedback can give you loads of valuable insights, that you might use to develop and improve your brand. These kinds of efforts will be rewarded with a constant, good reputation.

  • Proactively answering customer questions
  • Solving and mitigating problems customers write about online
  • Acquiring customer feedback and insights
  • Presenting customer testimonials and success stories in various forms
  • Managing reviews sites and marketplaces
  • Implementing website plugins boosting credibility

Online reputation management is a multistage process that gets easier with the help of dedicated tools and activities.

Online reputation management and media monitoring

Media monitoring is the process of tracking online media outlets in search of pieces of information mentioning particular topics. Information found in the media can have commercial, business, or scientific value. Brand monitoring is about tracking mentions of your company, your products, services, and also following keywords connected to your industry or competitors. 

This specific method enables you to immediately communicate with people who talk about your product and service. Being present in customers’ conversations is key if you want to engage with them, build relationships, and most importantly, manage reputation.

Some sources media monitoring covers include:

  • Websites
  • News sites
  • Blogs
  • Discussion forums
  • Social media platforms
  • Newsletters
  • Videos
  • Podcasts

As we mentioned earlier, media monitoring is fundamental to reputation management as it plugs you into the online buzz about your business. By following online conversations connected to your business, product, service, or competitors, you can gain knowledge about your brand reputation.

As people nowadays speak their minds all over the Web, searching mentions about your brand manually would be almost impossible. Here is where media monitoring tools come in handy. They do the research for you. They are the perfect solution for those who wonder how to manage online reputation in the easiest, least time-consuming, and most effective way. 

Clients tend to not tag social media accounts of companies that they are dissatisfied with. Fortunately, media monitoring tools help you spot all types of mentions that you wouldn’t have found manually, including mentions like these ones.

Benefits of media monitoring for managing online reputation

Online reputation management with media monitoring:

  • helps you stay in control of your online reputation, which is incredibly important;
  • lets you find news mentions, expert reviews, negative reviews, positive comments;
  • helps you spot dissatisfied clients, problematic reviews, or opinions first and prevent your company from PR crises;
  • allows you to reach out to satisfied clients as well, gain their trust, loyalty, and build strong relationships with them;
  • helps you strengthen your customer service by making it easier to communicate with your clients on various online platforms;
  • lets you find valuable insights and information, collect feedback and suggestions needed to develop your brand and satisfy your clients;
  • gives you a chance to contact your clients directly and show them the human side of your business;
  • helps you discover consumer insights – find out what are their needs, preferences, and characteristics to make sure your brand reflects the same values;
  • helps you analyze metrics like Sentiment analysis, Social media reach, Non-social reach, Share of voice, Number of mentions, Engagement.

Online reputation management and sentiment analysis

Online reputation management and sentiment analysis go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Sentiment analysis is an algorithm that analyzes text and identifies the emotional resonance of a particular text: whether it conveys positive, negative, or neutral emotions.

Sentiment analysis is an important piece of online reputation management. It identifies both negative and positive comments, online reviews, and other online mentions of a company, product, or service.

It gives you an idea of whether your reputation is positive or negative.

It helps you discover what your customers, the media, or the industry media think about:

  • Your company
  • Your product
  • Your service
  • Your marketing campaign
  • Your competitors

It’s particularly important in the case of customer complaints, negative comments, press, and reviews as they pose a threat to a company’s reputation and, at the same time, are a valuable source of feedback, suggestions for improvements.

Identifying negative mentions, comments and reviews is one.

Using sentiment analysis to identify positive content is important as well. This is how you can not only find your customers, experts, and the media sharing a good word on the Web, but also get the social proof and validation of your business actions

This metric can be performed by web and social media monitoring tools. The technology, however, isn’t all roses – it faces a couple of issues you can learn more about here: What is Sentiment Analysis and How to Do It Yourself.

How to do online reputation management yourself?

Online reputation management can be done by yourself with the help of media monitoring tools, for example, our Brand24.

Such tools monitor websites, news sites, blogs, discussion forums, and social media platforms, and collect almost in real-time all online mentions of predefined keywords.

Brand24 is a media monitoring platform that monitors both social and traditional media and tells you where people publicly talk about your business, product, or service. Using it, you will keep up with mentions, comments, or reviews that regard your company and allow you to react to them instantly. 

How to manage online reputation with a monitoring tool?

Before you start managing your online reputation with a media monitoring tool, think about keywords that will help you reach not only online mentions of your business, but also online reviews, articles about your company, or posts and comments about specific products or services that you offer.

It is important to choose the right hashtags and set up your monitoring project correctly. If you do so, the tool will surely provide you with valuable and accurate results that will help you with managing your online reputation.

Which keywords should you monitor?

  • Your brand name
  • Your branded hashtag
  • Names of your social media accounts
  • Names of your products or services name
  • Other keywords relevant to your business

What’s more, tools like Brand24, not only provide you with raw results and data but offer lots of other features that make online reputation management quantifiable and easy:

  • Metrics of volume
  • Metrics of influence
  • Metrics of engagement
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Email notifications
  • Push notifications
  • Graphs, comparisons and other gizmos and gadgets
  • Even more!

Sentiment analysis segments positive, negative, and neutral mentions. It helps you get a better understanding of customer attitudes & spot problematic areas that need immediate attention.

For example, this detection lets you find negative online reviews before it’s too late. We all know that these ones can have the strongest impact on your reputation. Being able to reach out to people who are dissatisfied in the first place enables you to prevent unflattering opinions from spreading. Time and immediate response are key when it comes to managing reputation.

A screenshot of negative mention
A screenshot of positive mention

Alerts and reports let you be the first one to discover changes in the volume of discussion around your brand.

A sudden change in the reach or number of mentions may be caused by a positive or negative situation. Whether your new campaign is extremely successful and the buzz around it rises, or an influencer posts an unfavorable opinion about your brand – Brand24 will inform you about the source of the changes and let you react to it immediately.

This is how you can not only learn about online sources talking about your business but also measure it and see in numbers how it performs. This helps you draw valuable conclusions and learn insights that can improve your reputation management strategy and marketing, leading to a better customer experience.

To do online reputation management yourself, learn how to monitor your brand on social media and beyond.

How to choose an online reputation management tool?

There are multiple types of online reputation management tools. Some of them only focus on managing online reviews, especially negative reviews. Other reputation management companies, help you gain new business reviews. Media monitoring tools on the other hand help you do the best research and get the best results. In my biased opinion, media monitoring tools work the most effectively as reputation management companies. Although, you should adjust the type of ORM tool to your business, your needs, and preferences.

Also, there are various types of media monitoring solutions that offer different features and not all of them offer the same media coverage. Some of them focus on social media channels, other ones cover traditional websites as well. Brand24, for example, is complex monitoring software that will track thousands of publicly available online sources, including social media channels, websites, online press releases, consumer reviews, articles, blogs, podcasts, newsletters.

Brand monitoring tools also differ when it comes to pricing. Some of them are very expensive, others, like Google Alerts, are free but do not deliver much data or analysis. Fortunately, there are also the ones that are affordable but yet advanced.

Again, depending on your needs and the type of business you run, make sure to choose a brand monitoring tool that will cover the sources that are important to you. There are a few solid web and social media monitoring tools out there you can monitor your online reputation with.

10 online reputation management tools

Reputation management software is a reasonable choice for businesses of all sizes that have online presence. Tracking customer feedback, social media monitoring, negative comments and press on the web by hand is super uncomfortable and ineffective.

Reputation management software is an affordable way to manage reputation of an online business. Have a look at 10 of the best pieces of reputation management software.

best reputation management software

Small to medium companies might not afford the most popular reputation management tools simply because of their price.

When it comes to free reputation management software, there is Google Alerts which is a very basic Internet monitoring tool from Google. The tool, however, doesn’t perform well in essential tasks needed for an effective online reputation management platform.

Still, if you want to learn more about Google Alerts, here’s a comparison of it with Brand24, a Google Alerts alternative.

Fortunately enough, there’s good deal of inexpensive reputation management software that are just enough to keep track of what the world says about your business, products, and services on the web.

Here are the best online reputation management software out there.


1. Brand24

I can’t talk about online reputation management tools without mentioning our own Brand24 used mostly by small and medium companies that want to monitor their business and brand image.

Brand24 is a one of the best reputation management software money can buy: it’s easy to use, effective, in-depth, and affordable.

It’s a media monitoring and analytics tool which offers great insight into an online presence. The tool not only collects mentions of any keyword from news sites, customer reviews, negative feedback, review sites, blogs, discussion forums, podcasts, videos and other places, but also analyzes the performance of these mentions on numerous levels:

  • Sentiment analysis
  • Reach and social media reach
  • Most influential sources
  • Most popular sources
  • Most popular hashtags
  • And more!

All online mentions of your keywords arrive to one dashboard, however, you can receive them also in:

  • Email: Daily and weekly reports, Storm Alerts
  • Slack
  • Mobile app

You also get legendary customer support!

Prices: Starting at $49. See prices


2. Brandwatch

Founded in 2005, Brandwatch has become one of the best online reputation management software there is. It’s a web and social media monitoring with lots of powerful functions mostly for medium and large companies. 

One feature is particularly handy – reputation management dashboard and it’s just a starting point.

Pricing: Starts at $800 and increases with volume of data


3. Mention

Another online reputation management tool is Mention. As one of the top web and social media monitoring tools, Mentions does a great job as an online reputation management software tracking company mentions across social media and websites.

Mentions has also a separate tool to monitor and analyze online reputation management – The Brand Grader.

Pricing: Starts at $29 a month


4. Reputology

Reputology is a reputation management software for small, medium, and large companies. The great thing about it is that it strongly relies on location which is something of huge value for business operating locally. 

Reputology offers solutions for customer feedback, review monitoring, and text analysis. 

Prices: Starts at $10 / one location

A screenshot from Reputology dashboard

 5. BirdEye

BirdEye is another piece of SaaS software that helps manage online reputation by giving the user tools to hone customer experience. Apart from the strong focus on reviews, BirdEye offers a glimpse into Google search reputation of an online business.

Other cool features that make BridEye stand out include surveys, web chat and customer insight algorithm based on reviews. 

Prices: Contact BirdEye to get a quota

 


6. Podium

Another worth-mentioning online reputation management software is Podium. Similarly to BirdEye, Podium concentrates on managing and improving customer experience.

Some of the most important features include messaging platform, reviews management, webchat and feedback management.

Prices: Contact Podium to get a quote


7. Reputation

It’s an all-in-one online reputation management software with solutions stretching beyond reputation management.

Some of the features include social listening and an engagement platform, Online Reputation Management platform, Reputation Score, and Business Listings. 

Prices: Contact Reputation.com to get a price


8. Yext

Yext is a data management tool to keep track of your business’ location-related information on multiple business directories. The tools helps you manage the business listings your business is present on and find new ones. 

Moreover, it provides solutions for local SEO, and voice search optimization.

Prices: Starting at $199 / year


9. Sprout Social

Sprout Social is another social media monitoring tool you can use to manage your online reputation. It not only allows social media monitoring but also provides sentiment analysis, reporting, review management and other features to help you take care of online reputation. 

Prices: Starting at $99 a month.


10. Hootsuite

There’s no conversation about online reputation management without mentioning Hootsuite. The tool allows managing reputation across social media platforms and offers plenty of features to make managing, analyzing and reporting even more effective. 

Prices: Starting at $19 a month.


Free reputation management masterclass

If you happen to try Brand24, you might be interested in our Media Monitoring Masterclass which is now free on YouTube.

It’s a crash course that covers fundamentals of media monitoring and reputation management using our software.

Challenges of online reputation management

Online reputation management is about mitigating, preventing, and nipping the problem in the bud.

Every type of business should be aware of how online reputation can impact the overall image of their business. Sure – the bigger brand, the bigger impact there is. This, however, doesn’t mean that smaller brands and companies should neglect their online reputation – no matter what the size of a company is, the customer is always just a human who trusts the promise you make.

Keeping a crystal clear reputation requires preventing and sometimes facing the inevitable.

  • Negative comments
  • Negative reviews
  • Shitstorms
  • Bad press
  • Trolling
  • Brandjacking

Another challenge of online reputation management is knowing how to handle and react to negative reviews or online trolls.

How to react to negative reviews?

  1. Keep up with mentions of your company. 
    Set email notifications in your media monitoring tool to be able to react immediately if something threatens your online reputation. 
  2. Act fast.
    Time is key while replying to mentions of your company. The longer a customer’s complaint, comment, or review remains unanswered, the worse impact it can possibly have on your business. My number one suggestion here would be to respond to bad reviews in the first place. Simply before it’s too late. These kinds of opinions tend to spread faster than positive ones. Brand24 gives you access to all the mentions of your brand, and sends alerts, and allows for your prompt reaction.
  3. Apologize.
    No matter if the reason for a negative review was truly your fault or not, an apology costs you nothing but it’ll certainly help you. If a customer is dissatisfied and driven by emotions, it is always better to show him a little bit of understanding and empathy. It will for sure put you in a better situation.
  4. Hold back your emotions.
    It’s never a good idea to show your disagreement with an angry customer. Try to respond in a positive manner, act politely, and never show aggression toward your client. It will be appreciated, I promise.
  5. Offer solution.
    You can also tell the reviewer how you’re going to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again or offer a discount on a customer’s next purchase or visit at your place, or even give something for free if you feel like that’s the best way to go.
  6. Do your best to turn it around.
    Try to make the best out of every review. Make sure to do everything to deal with an unsatisfied customer. Show your engagement, efforts, and believe that even bad reviews can bring something positive to your business. They can be a source of valuable insights that can help you see people’s pain points and develop your product to meet their expectations.

Online reputation management fails

Sadly, some companies not only neglect online reputation management but also manage it poorly when the need arises. Let’s have a look at some examples.

United Airlines

Their 2017 flop is probably one of the most infamous online reputation management fails of the new media.

During the summer of 2017, a passenger of UA recorded and shared to Twitter a video of security officers dragging out forcefully another passenger because of an overbooked seat.

The story spread in the blink of an eye causing outrage across social media, traditional media and the public in general.

What’s more, it was not only the video that shocked people, but also the reaction from the CEO of United Airlines which was distant and victim-blaming.

Now, have a look at how this situation affected United Airlines’ reputation and business performance.

  • United’s reputation crashed to a 10-year low
  • Decrease of customer loyalty
  • Millions of online mentions
  • Millions of dollars lost in market value

What went wrong: In the first place, the system of overbooking is wrong to the bone. Secondly, security officers made out of an everyday issue a violent scene. Lastly, United Airlines underestimated the power of the Web and social media and how its connectivity spreads information – no one really expected a short Twitter video to have such a devastating impact.

Nestlé

Another example of online reputation management fail is about Nestlé and how to they handled Greenpeace’s accusations of using palm oil which production kills orangutans.

Greenpeace launched a viral ad campaign featuring an office worker having a Kit Kat which turns to be an orangutan’s finger.

The ad quickly spread across the Internet sparking outrage.

Nestlé’s Facebook page was flooded with negative comments and people asking Nestlé to stop killing orangutans. Instead of admitting, Nestlé kept saying we welcome your comments, but don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic—they will be deleted, which triggered even more negative responses.

What went wrong: Aside from causing environmental damage, Nestlé failed at managing its online reputation at the time of crisis as it didn’t take up any mitigating actions. One year later, the new head of digital and social media at Nestlé brought to life a digital acceleration team that became responsible for managing online reputation 24 hours a day. There you have another proof that reputation influences performance and processes.

Burger King Germany

One of the German TV shows exposed poor conditions in a Burger King restaurant in Germany –  unfresh food, dirty kitchens, and bad working conditions.

Burger King Germany responded the next day on Facebook and explained that such conditions concern only 90 franchise restaurants while the rest of them the situation is spot-on.

The head of Burger King Germany admitted that the scandal resulted in massive financial losses. He assured that they’re eagerly solving all the issues, talked about improving standards, inviting an outside organization to oversee, and he fired the person responsible. Be as it may, the reputational crisis had an impact on all restaurants across Germany.

What went wrong: Apart from the issues regarding conditions in these restaurants, there was little done to proactively limit the damage. Only after some time did Burger King Germany launch the Tag der offenen Küche campaign to clean up their image.

How much do you know about your online reputation?

Do you know what they say about your company online?

It’s hard to monitor what the Internet says about your business without any online reputation management tool, or any online reputation management company.

It’s hard and backbreaking.

All you can do is google your business every day, browse review sites, browse your social media platforms one by one and rely on notifications when someone mentions your business with an official handle. It can be quite time-consuming as everything has to be done manually.

In other words, it’s ineffective.

If you want to truly research your existing online reputation, and then take care of managing it, it’s definitely easier and less time-consuming to do it with the help of reputation management software.

Do you do online reputation management yourself? How do you do this?