How To Manage & Improve Online Brand Reputation in 2024 (Guide)

Do you lie awake at night worrying about what PR disaster will derail your brand image online? You are not alone.

Today, the public perception of your business on online platforms impacts your scalability immensely. So, it’s fair to say that a positive online brand reputation is a business’s greatest asset today. 

With a solid online identity, a brand can: 

  • Earn its audience’s trust and credibility as a business
  • Mitigate negative feedback before escalation
  • Position itself as an expert in the industry
  • Build a global recognition 

But it takes years to build a reputation and only a moment to destroy one. Your brand reputation management must consistently improve to sustain a good name. 

To help you in this journey, here’s our detailed guide to building a strong online reputation and maintaining it with strategic efforts. 

Understanding Online Brand Reputation

What is brand reputation? 

Simply put, online brand reputation is how your audience sees your business and talks about it on the internet. However, while it affects both B2B and B2C industries, the dynamics differ. 

B2B brand reputation

A reputation crisis for a B2B brand often has a limited audience and can be contained through direct communication channels and negotiations. Businesses are more likely to work through challenges with their B2B partner if they see long-term value. 

B2C brand reputation

Consumers typically have a lower tolerance for product or service failures and can be more unforgiving of unflattering brand incidents. So, for a B2C business, negative public perceptions can spread rapidly and irreversibly damage the brand. 

While the impact range is different, businesses shouldn’t ignore the significance of online reputation in building consumer trust and business partnerships. 

Modern audiences don’t fall for gimmicky ads. Instead, they research how their fellow netizens perceive your brand before making a purchase. For example, a report by Brightlocal notes that 98% of shoppers read online reviews before opting for a local brand. 

That’s why every brand, whether it’s B2B or B2C, should prioritize reputation management. It helps you resolve negative perceptions and turns critical audiences into loyal followers. Your business gains credibility, enhances customer advocacy, and gets more customers in the funnel. 

Assessing Your Current Brand Reputation

The first step toward enhancing your reputation online is to become aware of its current state. For that, follow these steps: 

1. Conduct a thorough online brand audit

You can only improve your reputation when you know what exactly is going wrong. So, run brand reputation monitoring and audit your present reputation’s qualitative and quantitative value.

First, you must conduct a thorough online search using social media platforms and search engines. Monitor the results over time to assess any ups and downs. Use social listening to track brand mentions across different social networks and forums. 

Deep dive into the sentiment of every online conversation around your brand. It helps you to stay on top of your audience’s changing perception and notice PR issues you must prioritize. You must also run a competitor analysis to see where your reputation stands in your niche. 

Brand audits require examining customer feedback regularly. So, monitor customer reviews on your social media channels, third-party sites, and search engines. 

While positive comments can hugely boost your confidence, negative feedback provides a more constructive picture of your reputation. So pay attention to both to see what’s working and what isn’t. 

2. Use reputation management tools 

Manually conducting online brand audits becomes error-prone and time-consuming as you scale. That’s where reputation management tools like Keyhole can help you. 

It’s an all-in-one social media analytics platform with features like social listening, sentiment analysis, and competitor benchmarking. You can analyze multiple profiles, brand mentions, and campaigns within minutes. 

For example, you can set advanced trackers on Keyhole to monitor brand mentions in just a couple of easy steps: 

  1. Log into your Keyhole account. Select the “Listening and Campaigns” tab. 
  2. Click on the orange “Add New Tracker” button. From the dropdown menu, select the “Add Advanced Tracker” option. 
  1. It will take you to a new page (shown in the above screenshot). Now simply add keywords or brand names you want to track, select the platform to monitor, and add criteria and subtrackers as required.
  2. Set the tracker name and make a custom URL. 
  3. The system will notify you every time there’s a mention of your added brand names. 
  4. You can also limit the maximum volume and set a date to start or stop the tracker.

Want to run competitor analysis using Keyhole? Do that using the following easy steps: 

  1. Click the orange ‘Add New Profile’ button at the top right corner. Select the ‘Create new comparison’ option from the dropdown menu. 
  1. It will redirect you to a new page with different social media options. Click on your targeted platform from the dropdown menu.
  2. Enter your brand profile in the first section and the competitor pages in the following ones. 
  3. Once the “Create Comparison” button turns orange, click on it. Keyhole will automatically backfill the data and generate the report in seconds.

To build a thriving reputation on social media, start your free trial!

Crafting a Positive Brand Image

Now that you know where your brand stands in public perception, it’s time to create a positive brand reputation. Follow these steps: 

1. Develop a strong brand identity

Clearly define your brand’s mission, values, and vision. What does your brand stand for? What problems do you want to solve? Then, devise consistent strategies across your website and all social media platforms. Develop a unique brand personality and voice aligned with your values. Ensure it resonates with your target audience. 

Glossier’s Instagram is one of the best brand reputation examples. The brand’s mission is “to give voice through beauty. Its Instagram bio reflects this people-centric identity perfectly. 

True to its vision of making “products designed with your real beauty routine in mind,” Glossier publishes user-generated content on Instagram and YouTube and upholds realistic beauty standards through its online presence. 

2. Create valuable and engaging content

How do you make your brand identity memorable and valuable to the target market? By creating engaging, informational, and relevant content.

Create blog posts and articles around issues your brand aims to solve. Highlight customer-specific challenges in your content. Create resources like e-books and how-to guides to deliver value.

Online brand reputation management also involves utilizing social proof through your content for better credibility. Showcase customer testimonials and success stories on your website and promote them on social media. They should reflect tangible changes your brand has made for the customer. Write engaging case studies to build niche expertise. 

3. Navigate customer interactions with professionalism

A big part of your brand reputation depends on the quality of your customer service. So, promptly respond to customer inquiries and feedback. Leverage chatbot tools or enterprise helpdesk software to automate customer resolutions using business phone apps for enhanced efficiency.

Take negative comments as constructive criticism, understand the root cause, and address them quickly. It makes even the harshest critics feel valuable and turn negative comments into positive experiences.

Monitoring and Managing Online Reviews

Online reviews are a goldmine of valuable insights capable of driving brand reputation improvements. Here’s how you can leverage online feedback to build a positive image: 

1. Encouraging positive reviews

Positive reviews on social media, search engines, and other third-party platforms are an excellent boon to brand reputation. So, give your customers a reason to gush about you. 

Offer quality products and impeccable B2C or B2B customer service and regularly ask customers for feedback. If you get a positive response, request them to submit a review detailing their experience. Add widgets to the review platforms to make the process more convenient and maximize review submission. 

2. Addressing negative reviews constructively

Of course, not all reviews will be favorable. But you must address them constructively. 

Whenever a user submits a critical review on a public platform, reply gracefully, apologize, and offer suitable resolutions. Once revolved, add another comment detailing how you solved it. When necessary, personally reach out to the unhappy customer to understand the issue in detail. Solve it promptly and update them. 

For example, when Hindmarsh Landscaping and Timber Supplies got a 1-star Google review and scathing feedback from a customer, the owner promptly replied to mitigate the situation. 

3. Implementing review management tools

Use brand reputation tools with review management features. They automate the review monitoring process across all relevant platforms to bring you actionable insights. That way, you can take data-driven actions and improve your products and services according to customer needs. It also portrays a consumer-centric image, fosters loyalty, and improves brand reputation.

Leveraging Social Media for Reputation Building

Social media is the most impactful reflection of a brand’s reputation today. Similarly, it can upgrade your business’s public image. Follow these steps:

1. Choose the right social media platforms

All social media platforms won’t work for your brand. Different platforms cater to different customer demographics and interests. So, select the platforms that align with your goals and the target audience. 

Define buyer personas and see where your customers are the most active. Your ideal platform also depends on your business model and industry. For example, Instagram and TikTok are the best social media channels for B2C brands or businesses targeting younger demographics. B2B brands have more scope on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

2. Engage with your audience

Maintain regular communication with your audience through emails and social media marketing. It builds bonds beyond business transactions and a positive brand reputation through customer loyalty. 

You can start a newsletter to share valuable industry insights and content with your audience. Update customers on upcoming events, product launches, or exclusive sales. 

Post regularly on social media and engage with comments. Respond to direct messages promptly. Host live sessions for real-time interactions. 

3. Handle social media crises effectively

No matter how careful you are, social media crises can happen without warning. So, prepare a crisis response plan to minimize the impact. It should outline key roles, communication protocols, and escalation procedures for possible PR disasters. 

Determine the severity and scope of the crisis. Run root-cause analysis and identify any potential legal threat. Transparency is crucial to reestablish a positive reputation after social media crises. Acknowledge the issue promptly and publicly and apologize if necessary. Express empathy for those affected sincerely. Lastly, update your audience on the resolutions as they become available.

For example, in 2019, Versace ran into a severe PR disaster by making a faux pas with a factually incorrect t-shirt implying Macau and Hong Kong were countries independent of China. The incident attracted severe backlash, leading to the Chinese brand ambassador Yang Mi cutting ties with Versace. 

An apology by the fashion label through the media did very little to mitigate the issue. To handle the controversy, Donatella Versace herself took to Instagram to apologize personally. 

Building Trust through Thought Leadership

Audience trusts brands that portray their thought leadership in the industry. It gives credibility to your claims and improves your online reputation. For that, follow these practical tips: 

1. Establish brand executives as industry experts

Get your brand executives to express their unique insights and opinions on industry matters. Arrange interviews, webinars, and panel discussions at industry events. Publish authoritative articles and whitepapers written by the company’s leaders. 

Help your executives build a notable online presence with an active and professional LinkedIn profile. Encourage them to engage in industry-related discussions and share their expertise on the platform. 

For example, as shown in the above post, Hubspot Academy executive and educator Mark D. Hans regularly hosts insightful discussions with other industry leaders on LinkedIn. 

2. Showcase expertise through guest posting and collaborations

Identify blogs, websites, or publications catering to your niche and have an audience that aligns with your target audience. Contribute there with insightful guest posts. There are many free guest posting sites, so you can publish your content and reach your goal.

Contact contemporary brands or businesses that complement your services. Collaborate with them on co-hosted webinars, workshops, podcasts, or industry surveys. Partnering with other credible brands builds recognition and benefits your reputation. 

Partnering with Influencers and Advocates

Influencer partnerships and word-of-mouth can go a long way to get the desired visibility on social media. Existing customers and social media creators vouching for your brand will build positive recognition on online platforms. 

Here are the best ways to go about it:

1. Identifying and engaging with brand advocates

Use social listening, monitor review sites, and track user-generated content to identify your most vocal fans. Join online forums and communities related to your industry. Some users may be enthusiastic brand advocates within these communities.

Thank them for their kind words and encourage them to participate in your referral program. Incentivize advocates with exclusive offers, early access to new products, etc.

Promote UGC to showcase your fandom. It enhances your reach and acts as organic social proof. 

2. Collaborating with influencers for a wider reach

Reports found that 50% of millennials trust product recommendations by influencers they follow. Identifying and partnering with the right influencer lets you leverage their clout to enhance your online reputation. 

For example, Daniel Wellington partnered with Federica Scagnetti to promote its Summer Charm collection. 

Co-create content and campaigns and value their creative input. Once you roll out the influencer partnership campaign, regularly measure performance metrics like engagement rate and impressions to stay on track. Use reliable brand reputation management tools with analytics for accurate insights.  

Conclusion

Here’s a TL;DR version of today’s discussion: 

  • Run brand audit
  • Develop a strong brand identity
  • Address both negative and positive feedback
  • Engage with the audience
  • Be transparent during PR crises
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Partner with influencers and advocates

A positive image is non-negotiable to succeed in a constantly online world whether you are a B2B or B2C brand. 

So, strengthen your insights with the right analytics, devise strategies and crisis management plans, and prioritize brand reputation just as much as your sales.

Put an end to manual legwork once and for all.