Reputation management: Managing negative online reviews effectively

A woman sat at a computer reading positive and negative reviews

Your brand’s online reputation has always been important, but never more so than in the age of social media.

Statista estimates that approximately 4.95 billion people use social media worldwide.

That is 4.95 billion people who have the power to leave a review at the click of a button after using your product or services.

Positive reviews can have a significant impact on how your target audience sees your brand.

They can help your brand build up trust, credibility, and a well-established brand presence.

So, it can be concerning when you start to notice your reviews taking a negative turn.

It can be easy to panic when you receive negative reviews; however, it is important to remain calm and assess how you can turn these negatives into positives.

To help you, we have compiled a handy guide on how you can effectively carry out online reputation management for your brand.

What is an online reputation?

Your brand’s online reputation is essentially how your audience and other internet users perceive your brand.

If you are wondering where your brand’s reputation currently stands, a good starting point is looking at various metrics such as:

  • Customer reviews
  • Brand mentions
  • Website traffic
  • Ratings on third party sites
  • Likes, comments, and shares
  • Customer feedback
  • Competitor analysis

Looking into these metrics will allow you to gather invaluable data to help you decide on the best course of action and strategy going forward.

Taking the time to improve your brand’s online presence is well worth the investment, with BrightLocal finding that 76% of customers ‘regularly’ read online reviews ‘every day.’

How can I carry out effective online reputation management?

Managing your brand’s online reputation is a continuous process that requires strategy, planning, monitoring, and building.

Today, social media can have a significant impact on your brand’s reputation. It provides a platform for customers to voice their opinions to millions of other users.

This can be extremely beneficial when it comes to positive reviews, but a lot less so when the review is negative.

Negative reviews can cause your business to lose customers, impact sales, and damage your reputation among internet users who may not have heard of your brand before.

So, it is essential that you stay on top of your brand’s reputation and address any problems that arise as quickly as possible.

Check out our top seven steps to effectively manage your brand’s online reputation:

1. Monitor your reviews and mentions regularly

The first and most important step to improving your brand’s online reputation is to regularly audit any reviews, mentions, or feedback.

Global Web Index states that nearly half of all internet users post online reviews every month, which is a lot of potential insight into your customers’ perceptions of your brand.

By not regularly checking your reviews, you are missing out on valuable information straight from the customer, especially if your brand has not delivered as it should.

Ensure you give your brand the best chance to combat negative reviews by monitoring your brand’s social media channels and third-party sites such as Yelp, Facebook, and Google for the latest reviews.

You can also set up Google Alerts, which can track any mentions of your brand, products, and keywords relating to your brand.

2. Check out the competition

Next, it is always worth delving deeper into your competitor’s social media channels and reviews on third-party sites so you can find out how they handle their online reputation.

By carrying out a competitor analysis, you can find out the following:

  • How they respond to customers
  • The problems their customers are having
  • Ways their responses could be improved
  • Mistakes made by your competitors
  • What they are doing well

This will then allow you to create an actionable strategy that has focused goals with the overall objective of improving your brand’s online reputation.

3. Create a reputation management plan

Whether you want to completely overhaul your brand’s reputation or build on your current strengths, you can do it more effectively with a reputation management plan.

After carrying out an audit of your brand’s reputation, you will be better placed to create strategies that are focused on the areas you need to address in order to improve your brand’s reputation.

For example, the results of your audit may show that there is a lot of negative conversation surrounding delayed orders and waiting times.

This is commonly known as social listening; a technique used by brands to monitor and collect data from online conversations.

You can then use this information to create proactive strategies, which will include elements such as your S.M.A.R.T. goals, team responsibilities, and tone of voice guide for responding to comments.

While implementing your strategy, it is important that you listen to feedback and reviews and adapt your plan accordingly.

4. Respond professionally to negative reviews

Addressing negative reviews publicly is a fantastic way to build trust and credibility.

It also shows your audience that you care and deal with their problems as a priority.

Negative reviews are never fun to read; however, the Online Marketing Institute states that it takes customers more effort to leave a negative review than to simply just stop using your brand.

This is an opportunity for you to turn things around and truly put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

When responding to negative reviews, it’s best to do so within 24 hours while maintaining a friendly, personalised, and problem-solving approach.

A personalised apology and a solution can go a long way when responding to negative reviews, as well as give you a competitive edge – Trust Index reports that 63% of customers never received a response following their review.

5. Encourage positive feedback

Follow up with satisfied customers following a purchase by asking them to review your products or services.

The more authentic and positive reviews you can generate from happy customers, the more out of focus your negative reviews become.

Smart Money People advise that 84% of customers are more likely to trust reviews from other customers than professional reviewers, companies or brands – and 68% stated that they would make a purchase after reading a positive review.

In addition to increasing your brand reputation and conversion, encouraging positive feedback effectively can help improve your site’s credibility, and increase customer engagement.

You will also find that positive reviews can help further by enabling rich results on search engines, as they provide more detailed information beyond the title and meta description.

This is a result of structured data which has been added to a websites code to provide search engines with more detail about the context of the content.

The below is an example of restaurants who have used schema markup to show users their star rating and customer reviews when searching for ‘best restaurants in Camden.’

6. Turn negatives into positives

An important thing to remember is that negative reviews do not have to be…well, all that negative.

You can use them as opportunities to identify feedback patterns and improve your customers’ experiences going forward.

Take negative reviews as a positive opportunity to revise and review your marketing efforts and assess where they might be better placed to address your customers’ pain points.

By doing this, you are showing your customers that you are listening and taking their feedback into consideration.

Power Reviews states that 67% of customers would leave a review in order to help a brand improve their product or service.

So, next time you see a Google alert drop into your inbox and the review is not exactly what you were hoping for, just know that you do not have to see it as a negative.

Remain calm and professional and see it as an opportunity to grow your brand’s online reputation to set it apart from the rest.

Need help with your brand’s reputation management?

If you’re struggling with negative online reviews, get in touch today to see how we can help.

We also offer Free Acquisitions Workshops, where you will receive one-on-one advice from our expert marketers, free resources you can use right away, and a personalised action plan tailored to your needs.


Sophie Brodie

Senior Content Executive

Sophie Brodie is the Senior Content Executive at Skittle Digital. Sophie has worked in digital marketing since 2019. She has produced content for hardback books and magazines for design et al, followed by managing the content and SEO for multiple brands at Sykes Holiday Cottages. She enjoys creating a variety of content across different mediums and working with new clients to achieve their content goals. In her spare time, you will find Sophie listening to podcasts, at a music gig, or absorbed in a book.

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