Brand reputation management is a relatively new buzzword in business, but it is not really a new concept. Prior to the advent of the internet, businesses routinely tasked their public relations department or the public relations company handling their account to undertake reputation management. This required a periodic report on the company’s public status and consumer perception.
However, as the internet grew and then dominated commercial enterprise, reputation management became far more important. Consumers can now share anything and everything about their lives, and this includes opinions, reviews, and feedback about their personal experiences with businesses, products, brands, services, celebrities, and other people. People and businesses that have spent a lot of money and put a large amount of effort in building up their brands and reputations may now find themselves at the mercy of defamatory statements, malicious attacks, and careless pronouncements by practically anyone that has internet access
The Shift in Focus
Reputation management has come into its own in the 21st century. Studies show that top corporations place a premium on reputation management on public relations efforts outside traditional media relations. In other words, the focus is no longer on keeping a good relationship with the press, which was traditionally the source of information for the public. The focus is now on search engine results, social media, and review sites—all things directly driven by consumers. Brand reputation management specifically targets brand awareness and perception in these online venues, with key strategies in promoting the positive and downplaying the negative.
Content Monitoring and Response
Essentially, brand reputation management is monitoring content that pertains to a particular brand. If you know what is out there, you will know how to handle it. A reputation manager makes it a point to identify potentially damaging content as early as possible and to track significant trends in customer behavior. This will allow the manager to devise plans and strategies to address the difference, if any, that exists between how the brand is designed to be perceived and how consumers actually perceive it.
For example, if the company markets its Brand X moisturizer as highly effective for all types of skin and some customers post reviews that it caused rashes or did not moisturize at all, there is an obvious gap in the desired and stated perception. It does not mean that Brand X moisturizer is not what it claims to be, but it does mean that a large number of people who find these negative search engine results could be swayed by them. This effect can domino and have a serious impact on the brand’s sales. Brand reputation management strategies address such issues.
Online Brand Reputation Management
Google is the main target of online brand reputation management because it is the most frequently used search engine. As such, reputation management strategies address how Google’s search engine works. Some of these strategies include the following:
- Improving search engine optimization (SEO) by regularly adding substantial, relevant information to the company’s website
- Populating social media networks and creating websites that will promote and elevate a company’s profile and brands
- Burying negative search engine results by hosting and encouraging positive content and reviews
- Linking to authority sites to promote the brand and increase its exposure
- Submitting content to popular and authoritative blogs
- Hosting promotional events that target influencers
- Considering legal options to take down libelous material
- Engaging software options, including spam bots and denial-of-service, for sites with damaging content
- Responding to negative reviews, feedback, or criticisms
Is it Worth it?
Times have changed radically in the last three decades, but some things remain the same. The value of a good reputation continues to have the importance it always has had in a business’s success. Even in the digital age, it takes time to build a good reputation and just a few moments to damage it beyond repair. The biggest difference is the how easy it now is for anyone to manipulate consumer behavior and perception through the internet.
People tend to believe what they see and read online, even though they’re aware that there is no inherent check and balance on the truth or accuracy of the information posted. Even professionals tend to rely heavily on the information they get on the internet to make important business decisions.
According to Cross-Tab Market Research, nearly three-quarters of companies base their hiring decisions on the online reputation of their applicants. Ten percent of hiring professionals screen applicants by looking at their social networking sites, which often include information the applicant did not post. This means that what others share online may also affect a person’s reputation. For example, if someone’s ex-spouse wanted to make it hard for them to get a job, they can post photos of the applicant drunk or displaying other types of irresponsible behavior. A customer intent on ruining a brand can do this just as easily by making untrue claims and allegations.
Yet despite these facts, many business executives remain unconvinced about the importance of brand reputation and its management. Many learn too late.
Fortunately, brand building and defense is also much easier to do today for the knowledgeable and conscientious manager. It often involves close monitoring, daily content creation, and other strategies. If you want to ensure that all your efforts at marketing your brand will not be in vain, you would do well to consider hiring a professional brand reputation manager.
Maintaining Your Reputation
The main purpose of branding is not actually to promote a brand, but to manage how people perceive the company as a whole. As long as your brand is active in the market, you will always have to be vigilant about what is going on in the digital world.
In most instances, this requires a deep understanding of consumer psychology, marketing principles, and search engine algorithms. It is not an easy undertaking, but it is a crucial one, and companies that ignore the importance of brand reputation management often find themselves losing customers very quickly.
We provide an array of affordable reputation management services to help you protect your brand online. Whether your brand is your name or your company, we have helped many others with our flat rate pricing, which virtually guarantees that your situation will be fixed. Call 503-890-6663 for a quote.