Online reputation management in-and-out: guide, how-to’s, tools and more!

Tom
December 18, 2018 ・ 10 min read

Online reputation management or simply ORM. It’s another area of business to look after, especially during the pandemic. Here’s all you need to know about online reputation management, how to do it, necessary tools, and more.

In 2008, the Internet and social media platforms were in their infancy. Hardly anyone, maybe apart from futurologists and founding fathers of social media platforms, envisioned what the future of the Internet would look like.

Ten years later and the Internet is booming with commerce market which by 2022 is to account for 25% of all retail.

The development of the Internet, technology, and social media platforms gave consumers a voice that shapes reputation and influences performance of businesses on the digital market.

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

Good online reputation of a business is key to win the hearts of consumers on the Internet. Especially as your competitor is one click away.

I hope that with this article you’ll master the online reputation management of your business.

Table of contents:

  1. What is online reputation management?
  2. Why is online reputation management important?
  3. Best online reputation management practices
  4. Online reputation management and media monitoring
  5. Online reputation management and sentiment analysis
  6. How to do online reputation management yourself?
  7. Online reputation management tools
  8. Challenges of online reputation management
  9. Online reputation management fails
  10. How much do you know about your online reputation?

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.

Why is online reputation management important?

Online reputation management, as I already mentioned in the beginning, is an extremely important area of business, that is definitely worth looking after. Why is it so meaningful though? Here are a couple of reasons why you should pay attention to online reputation management.

A strong reputation has always been one of the keys to the success of a company.

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

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 crisis, 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 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, the 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 though 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 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 what you can improve and turn it into actions.

Example: You stumble upon numerous complaints about 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 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 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 a 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 a commercial, business, or scientific value.

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:

  • News mentions
  • Expert reviews
  • Brand supporters
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Negative comments
  • Positive comments
  • Social media reach
  • Non-social reach
  • Share of voice
  • Number of mentions
  • Engagement

Online reputation management and sentiment analysis

They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Sentiment analysis is an algorithm that analyzes text and identifies 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, reviews, and other online mentions of a company, product, or service.

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 of 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 in 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 – it can be your company, product, service name, or any other keyword relevant to your business.

What’s more, they 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!

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.

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

Online reputation management tools

There’s a few solid web and social media monitoring tools out there you can monitor your online reputation with:

  • Brand24
  • Buffer Reply
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout Social
  • Agorapulse
  • Zoho Social
  • Mention
  • Social Mention
  • Keyhole
  • Trackur
  • Buzzlogix
  • TweetDeck
  • Iconosquare
  • Tailwind
  • Sendible
  • Union Metrics
  • HubSpot
  • NUVI
  • Falcon.io
  • Talkwalker

There’s also Google Alerts, however, it’s a rather ineffective way to go.

Read more about best online reputation management software – their features, pricing plans and what they can do.

Challenges of online reputation management

ORM 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

Online reputation management fails

Sadly, some companies not only neglect online reputation management, but also mange 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 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 which 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 and 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 a reputation management software.

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