According to DataReportal, 5 billion people around the world use the Internet – meaning 63% of the world’s total population.
That’s why a positive online presence is paramount to business and branding success.
What people see in Google results when they search for your brand acts as a powerful first impression, and can determine whether or not they choose you over a competitor.
Even if you’re a fledgling startup, you need to track online reviews and comments on social media sites and forums.
Still, this can feel like a daunting task, particularly when so many other areas of your business need your attention.
Luckily, there are plenty of simple tools and strategies that can help you protect your brand’s online reputation.
Read on to learn what are the elements of a well-rounded reputation management strategy and the best tools to monitor your online reputation.
Table of contents:
- How to build a reputation management plan in 5 steps
- 7 of the best tools to monitor your online reputation
1. How to Build a Reputation Management Plan in 5 Steps
Before jumping into creating a reputation management strategy for your small business, let’s see exactly what reputation management is and why it is important for your business.
I’m sure you already know the basics of reputation management, but a quick refresher never hurts.
So let’s dive into it.
Reputation management is the process of monitoring and influencing consumers’ perceptions of your brand.
It is also called rep management, online reputation management, brand reputation management, or ORM.
But whatever the term, the goal is the same: influencing the way your audience feels about your brand based on what they read or hear about your business.
Reputation management is critical because it helps you engender trust in your brand and build loyalty in an era when consumers are scrutinising brand messaging and public profiles more than ever before.
In fact, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 53% of consumers say that trust is the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand (the first one is pricing).
Without trust, consumers may not feel confident in their purchases. This means they are likely to leave the perceived untrustworthy business high and try and opt for a more trusted brand.
Follow these five steps to build an effective reputation management strategy and gain consumer trust and confidence:
- Identify the key factors that drive your company’s reputation
Start by identifying your reputational drivers (the factors that contribute to your business’s overall reputation).
These can be your products or services, workplace, leadership, financial performance, customer service, environmental responsibility, or anything you believe it’s a powerful driving force behind your brand’s reputation.
- Use your business’s reputation drivers to develop a unique brand identity
Reputation management is part of brand building.
That’s why it is important to use your reputational drivers to draw a cohesive picture of your business and industry that has the ability to influence your audience’s perception of your brand.
For example, if you’re running an environmentally friendly business, you may want to craft a message that focuses on your sustainability initiatives and resonates with your target audience.
Bonus tip: At this stage, it is also important to do your research and understand the reputational drivers of your competitors.
- Use reputation management tools
Reputation management tools help you track online mentions of your brand and the subsequent responding of them.
Keeping track of what people say about your business is a proactive way of identifying and managing potentially negative feedback that can quickly take its toll on your brand’s reputation.
No successful online reputation management strategy takes place without some good reputation monitoring tools.
That’s why in the second section of this post, I’ll go through some of the best tools to monitor your online reputation and actively improve it.
- Determine your reputational vulnerabilities
Every business has some risks to its reputation. Determine what areas of your brand are most vulnerable and implement a strategy to address reputational risks.
Example: Your company doesn’t appear on the first page of Google search. This means that people are having trouble finding your business online.
Maybe you haven’t told Google you’re a business by claiming your listing on Google My Business. Or, maybe your website is poorly optimised for search engines.
In that case, a likely strategic action would be to create and optimise your business profile on Google. Or, you may want to improve your website’s SEO.
- Find inspiration from your competitors
When building your reputation management strategy, you can do the same activities as your competitors to achieve similar results.
Start by selecting a competitor that has an impeccable reputation and try to identify the strategy that produced success.
For example, you have a competitor that has achieved significant brand exposure by getting quality content published on high profile websites and publications.
In that case, you may want to identify high-profile publications with established authority that align with your campaign goals and acquire valuable brand mentions from topically-relevant articles.
Now that you know the exact steps you need to take to build a reputation management plan, let’s go over some high-quality tools you can use to monitor your reputation and boost it in the eyes of your audience.
2. 7 of the Best Tools to Monitor Your Online Reputation
Especially when you’re a small business with limited PR resources, reputation management software can be extremely beneficial.
Below I’ll review some options suitable for small businesses.
Brand24 is suitable for businesses of all sizes, from small companies to large enterprises.
From instant alerts for negative mentions to sentiment analysis to important KPIs tracking, this media monitoring tool makes online reputation management easy and effective.
Brand 24 offers four tiers of pricing according to the business’s size:
- Individual – $49 per month
- Team – $99 per month
- Pro – $149 per month
- Enterprise – $249 per month
Internetreputation.com provides personalised services that include reputation management, personal branding, and privacy monitoring.
By crafting effective strategies for entrepreneurs and professionals looking to build reputation and combat negative search results, internetreputation.com ensures that your digital presence is perfectly tailored.
Internetreputation.com uses customised pricing.
Mention is ideal for social media-focused businesses. The software enables you to monitor the web, listen to your audience, and manage social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Mention also comes with scheduling options, meaning you can use it to schedule all of your social media content.
Mention offers five plans to users:
- Free – $0 per month
- Solo – $29 per month
- Pro – $99 per month
- ProPlus – $199 per month
- Company – Personalised pricing
Digimind is a powerful tool that offers a wide array of features to help brands fully understand consumer insights, market trends, and competitive environment.
What’s special about Digimind is that it comes with the proprietary Natural Language Processing that can even process slang. This helps you stay on top of your reputation management and anticipate all potential issues.
Digimind uses customised pricing.
Reputology is a review monitoring and reputation management tool that helps businesses find reviews and deal with negative brand mentions.
The platform is especially useful for businesses that get lots of reviews on Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other major review platforms.
Reputology offers four plans to users:
- Solo – $110 per seat per month
- Professional – $60 per seat per month
- Agency – $40 per seat per month
- Partner – $25 per seat per month
BrandYourself is an online reputation management software that helps individuals and small businesses improve Google results, protect online privacy, and build a strong personal brand.
It comes with a free reputation report that explains how you can improve your Reputation Score. However, with the free report, you only have access to limited data.
BrandYourself does not provide pricing on their website.
NetReputation is an online reputation management agency that’s ideal for building a complete online presence.
Not only do they respond to reviews and social media chatter, but they also help businesses build, improve, and repair their online reputation.
NetReputation uses customised pricing.
Conclusion: Your business’s online reputation can massively impact consumers’ purchase decisions.
People won’t do business with you if they don’t feel they can trust you. Or worse, if they think others don’t trust you.
Don’t let that happen.
With close monitoring followed by a well-rounded strategy designed to create positive customer perception, your brand will be seen in a positive light, by more people.
Building trust and reputation is challenging for small, home-based businesses as they do not have a professional business address. In case you do not have a professional address to register your business with, it is almost impossible to stay on top of your online reputation.
This is because listing your home address as a business address may seem unprofessional and unreliable to your customers. Not to mention that it poses security and privacy issues.
In that case, the most important step in building a robust online presence is obtaining an address that makes your business appear trustworthy and legitimate.
If you need help to enhance your company’s reputation, we can set up your virtual office in less than 24 hours so you can have your own mailbox and a unique office address – for just over $2 a day!
We guarantee you that the benefits of a stellar reputation will reflect in the minds of prospects and customers and, ultimately, in your bottom line.