Your guide to online reputation management

Your guide to online reputation management

Google your brand. What did you find? Is it good or bad? Online reputation management (ORM) means you take control of online conversation. Ensuring consumers find the right, the best content when they search for you online. My ORM guide will show you how to control what’s found. How to identify and clean damaging content. Take a look!

How can Talkwalker help you with online reputation management? Check out our social media monitoring tool.

Check your online reputation now!

What the experts are saying about this ORM guide...

Hersh Davis-Nitzberg Profile

“This guide illustrates the importance of online reputation management for businesses. Today’s customers are scouring the Internet to find out where they should spend their money and which companies deserve their business. In order to cultivate industry authority as well as earn and sustain consumer trust, you must make developing and maintaining an excellent online reputation your top marketing priority.”
Hersh Davis-Nitzberg | Online Reputation Management Consultant & Social Media Influencer |


What is online reputation management (ORM)?

Your brand reputation isn’t something you can easily define.

While your brand identity is a concept decided by you and your business, your reputation is something much bigger and less tangible. It’s created by other people’s perceptions, whether they’re customers or prospects. Everyone has an opinion of what your brand means, and those opinions make up your reputation - positive and negative reviews, blog posts, etc.

Your reputation impacts your business in several ways. Consumer spending. How much. Share price, partnerships, employee engagement, and recruitment.

This means that you must have an online reputation management plan to ensure your company’s reputation remains good. By monitoring, analyzing and responding to what people say about your business online, you’ll maintain control of your reputation.

Who’s impacting your online reputation?

If you don’t control your brand reputation, who does?

Anyone with an understanding, an impact or a perception of your business. Including...

  • Employees - low-level to CEO
  • Investors and shareholders
  • Clients and prospects
  • Your influencers and your detractors
  • Critics and commentators

Brand transparency

The need for reputation management is due to the rise of brand transparency - the information you give your consumers about your business.

With more options available to buyers than ever before, they'll shop around and weigh up their options before buying. They’re less susceptible to the quick promises and gotcha advertising of yesteryear. Instead wanting more depth and understanding.

This isn’t about a quick sale, but a long-term relationship between the consumer, the product, and the brand.

Provide customers with as many details as you can about your policies, investors, structure, strategy, values, and anything else you think is important in defining your brand.

The more open you are, the more likely you are to gain and keep trust from your customers.

According to a Label Insight study, 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to you if you offer complete transparency. 73% are willing to spend more on your product if you offer total transparency in all aspects of the business.

If you’re not transparent, your consumers will look elsewhere. 74% of consumers in the 2017 Shopper Confidence Survey, said they would research online if they couldn't find the information they wanted from your packaging or labels.

However, the more open you are about your business, the more open you leave yourself to criticism. So while you'll gain significantly from brand transparency, this is when your online reputation management strategy has to be in place. Ensuring you’re ready for any criticism that comes your way.

How to measure your social reputation

Before you make any changes to your online reputation, you need to understand how consumers currently see you. That means detailed social media analysis and monitoring. I've made it easy for you. Take a look at my 10 simple steps to social media analytics.

Measure social reputation

  • Decide what to track. To understand what people are saying about you, look at all aspects of your business.
  • Look at your past performance and that of your competitors, then set benchmarks.
  • Monitor to maintain an in-depth picture of your brand.
  • Set up alerts to enable real-time monitoring and engagement.
  • Ensure your data is relevant with filters and detailed boolean searches.
  • Monitor your themes and influencers. What's your audience engaging with, and who’s diffusing that message?
  • Collate key metrics on one dashboard to make data easy to find and analyze.
  • Compare new data alongside goals, to highlight changes in your audience sentiment.
  • Look at other industry trends or competitor actions that you could monitor.
  • Share your results with the relevant teams.

Use these ten steps to measure your social reputation on your owned and earned media, including social networks, online news outlets, blogs, and forums.

Owned social media monitoring

The key is to have a detailed social media strategy. We’ve covered the essentials for building a social media strategy that works, before.

Analyze how much you engage with your audience and the tone of your communication. This will affect what your consumers think of your brand.

  • Key KPI to track: positive vs negative engagement on your posts
    Just because people are commenting, it’s not necessarily a good thing. Analyze the sentiment behind those comments.

  • Key KPI to track: content amplification
    Is your content engaging enough to be shareable? Your reputation isn’t just held by your consumers, but all potential consumers. You need to stretch far to engage with them.

Earned social media monitoring

This includes any mentions that weren’t created by you but were organically generated by internet users in the form of status updates, comments, tweets, articles, blog posts, etc.

To get a wider understanding of what people are saying about your business, look at:

  • All terms related to your brand, including product names, hashtags, slogans, or anything else that is significant to your brand identity.

Social media monitoring

This company chose to measure industry themes that could impact their brand.

  • Who's impacting on your business, whether positively (influencers) or negatively (detractors)? Not only are they sharing opinions about your brand, but people are engaging with those opinions and sharing them further. You need to know who these people are. They have more sway with your audience and will impact on your reputation faster than ordinary consumers.

  • What your competitors are doing. This will help you develop a benchmark for your share of voice in the industry. Does your company get more mentions or a competitors'? Who has the most positive sentiment? Who drives the most engagement? These are the things you have to monitor. That way, if there’s a significant drop at any level, you can see it and react quickly.

Talkwalker Issues Framework

It’s easy to monitor issues that you’re already aware of, or are predictable from industry data, but what about the unexpected issues? With Talkwalker's Issue Framework, you can detect spikes in data that may forecast an oncoming crisis.

  • Key KPI to track: net sentiment
    This will give you a measurable perception of your brand, that you can easily monitor to see if your brand reputation is improving or declining.

  • KPIs to monitor: number of mentions
    Monitor all your mentions across social, news and blogs to see how much online chatter your brand generates.

talkwalker Issues Framework

You can measure brand mentions and engagement all across social, blogs and news.

Don’t just monitor your brand

You need to understand what’s being said by and about your competitors.

  • Analyze the same details as you have for your own brand for all of your competitors.

  • Consider your share of voice. Is it your company or theirs that is getting the most conversation week on week? Remember, if a business is top of mind, it is more likely to get that final sale.

  • Go industry-wide. Track the key issues and trends that could impact your business. For example, a soft drink company would want to monitor any conversations about sugar and diabetes. That way, if the online chatter increases around such topics, you’d be ready to react or engage.

Monitor your brand

A sample soft drinks company measures keywords around their brand to better understand their brand perceptions.

What's the impact of your C-Suite social media accounts?

Take a look at the social traffic around your CEO, COO, etc.

More and more top-level execs are driving social engagement themselves, with people like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos as major examples.

But, as Cheryl Conner of Forbes writes: “A CEO’s personal opinion can quickly turn loyal customers against them and the fallout can live forever in search results.”

Therefore, you need to monitor their accounts. Look for any red-flag content that could cause controversy or bring the company into disrepute. Ensure your C-Suite receive social media guidelines along with your team.

Top tip - use image recognition

Image recognition technology is a key part of your online reputation management plan. Your logo is probably the most tangible element of your brand, so it’s important to ensure you monitor its usage just as much as you monitor brand name mentions.

That’s why image recognition is key.

Use it to see what people post about your brand, even when they don’t mention your brand name in writing.

It will prevent people abusing your logo and using for counterfeit goods.

Other aspects to measure for online reputation

Your SEO reputation

The business card is dying. Google is replacing it.

People will no longer search for your business on a card or in the phone book. They'll search online, and you have to be aware of what they'll find.

At least the first page of your results will impact on what your consumers think about you.

Check the results. What do they say about your business?

SEO Reputation

You will probably find:

  • Reviews and review sites
  • News stories
  • Related wiki pages
  • Your competitors’ results/paid ads
  • Blog posts about you
  • Websites and articles that mention your name

Read all of them to find out what's being said. It should correlate with what you discovered in your social media analysis, but this will give you an understanding of how exactly your consumers will view your business.

Remember, if you can find it, then so can consumers.

Don’t just look at your business names. Look for products, key employees, related keywords, and anything else you’d think would be important to consumers.

Top tip - don’t just use Google

Google isn't the only search engine!

Over a third of online searches are made elsewhere, so see if your results vary on the other top search engines. Cover all your bases.

Your review reputation

Now, onto the reviews.

12% of your audience will read 10 or more of your reviews before making a judgment on your business.

Monitor them constantly to gauge the public opinion of your business.

Try to cover as many review sites as possible. Here's a list of 19 online review sites that you may want to consider. And again, don’t just look at your brand. Look at what people say about your products too.

Top tip - find your industry-specific reviews

It’s easy to see what review sites are most common in your industry. Simply enter your “business industry” and “reviews” into your search engine, and see what comes up. For example, if you’re a toy store, simply search for “toy store reviews”

Find industry-specific reviews

You can see that Yelp is the most dominant review site for toy stores, alongside Google’s reviews and Reseller Ratings.

How to fix your online reputation

You should now have a detailed picture of how your brand - and anything related - is perceived online.

Before you can concentrate on reputation monitoring (and brand protection), it’s worth fixing any glaring reputation issues that may currently be affecting your brand. Here are 10 common reputation mistakes, and how to resolve them.

10 social reputation mistakes to avoid

Mistake #1 - Not owning the social channels you need

How big is your social presence? Are your competitors using channels that you're ignoring? Oops! Where's your audience?

Mistake #2 - Not completing a regular social media audit

Update everything that needs it. Trash everything that’s rubbish. Look at your social media strategy and make the most of each channel.

Brand consistency. If your Twitter bio says you’re the “Number 1 shoe store” while your Facebook Page says you’re “one of the biggest shoe stores,” you’re weakening your brand identity.

If you find anything in your analysis that is detrimental to your brand, clean it. If there are posts on your own social media networks that contradict your message, delete them.

If you don't have control over the posts you want to remove, take a look at ways to get things deleted. It's not good practice to delete negative comments, so just stick with serious items that are unjustified or libelous to your business.

Mistake #3 - Not considering your brand voice

If you want to grow your social strategy, consider your brand voice. What does your brand says, and how does it say it?

It’s important on social media to create engaging and relevant posts for your audience. Cute cat posts may be fun on your own Facebook page, but not on the one of an international finance company. Look at your social analytics, see what posts your audience engages with the most, and echo that style and message in future content.

What your exact tone of voice should be is up to you, though there's plenty of tips in this guide to find your marketing voice.

You don’t even need to be nice all the time. Just consistent.

Remember, as with all online reputation management, authenticity is vital to maintaining your brand transparency.

Provide your employees with social media guidelines.

They should cover:

  • Company social media account guidelines. To ensure you have a consistent voice across your media streams.

  • Personal social media guidelines, to discourage employees from posting content that may be detrimental to your brand.

Mistake #4 - Not responding to or acknowledging mentions

Now you have a more overarching social network, with a consistent voice, use it. Engage with your audience on social media as much as possible.

Don’t just look at the compliments or complaints. Respond to everything even if there’s no benefit to your business. This is about making people feel part of your community.

Mistake #5 - Being slow to react

Speed is of the essence. The sooner you engage with a post, the sooner you can deal with any negativity. A tweet can spread faster than an virus. And could be more devastating for your company.

Mistake #6 - Not creating fresh, engaging blog content

Not only does fresh content help your social reputation, encourage user engagement, and promote the messages you want to push, it also improves your site in the eyes of the search engines.

Unique content is a key factor in your search engine ranking, as well as frequently updated content. Websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages. Companies with more indexed pages get far more leads.

Ensure you optimize your content to contain keywords that your consumers are looking for.

Mistake #7 - Not outreaching your content to other sources

People don’t just want to see what you think of your business. They want to know what everyone else thinks.

Engage external sources and encourage them to share your content. It’ll improve the reach of your social messages. Backlinks will help improve your SEO ratings too.

Mistake #8 - Ignoring criticism

Instead of deleting or ignoring your critics, respond to them. Look at who the main detractors for your business are, and respond to their issues with your own messages. It's back to brand transparency. If there’s a question about your brand in the open, you should be the one to answer it.

McDonald’s responded to the ongoing criticism of their chicken nuggets recipe with a cross-media campaign promoting their 100% chicken breast contents.

Mistake #9 - Making it easy for consumers to find negative content

If you can’t delete an article, and can’t counteract an article, you can bury it. Only 8.5% of people will go to page two of a search. And only 3.7% go beyond that. So if you can fill your search results with positive news stories and content, you can bury anything that’s brand detrimental.

Mistake #10 - Not using influencers to create more positive sentiment

If you want to create more positive chat about your business, look at the people who make a career out of being online. You could use them for brand endorsement to boost your image or get them to create original content that your audience should love and share.

If you’ve never used them before, take a look at our Ultimate Influencer Guide.

Influencer Marketing Guide

How to fix your reviews

There are a few factors to consider when monitoring your reviews.

Remember, reviews matter

Reviews are significant to your reputation. 94% of consumers said they would use a business with a four-star rating. While only 57% would use one with three stars. If you can get your business up just one star level, you could improve your sales by 65%.

Engage with your complaints

As with social media, it’s better to acknowledge complaints than ignore them. Respond quickly to stop bad news from spreading, and to demonstrate to potential consumers that you’re a proactive and attentive brand.

Oh. And keep it professional. While your tone of voice on social can be more relaxed, for reviews, if you fight fire with fire - you’ll only get burnt.

Fixe your reviews

Don’t delete all of them

You may think getting rid of negative reviews would help, but it could actually be bad for your brand. 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if they don’t see any bad scores. It all leads back to brand transparency. Your users expect to see all aspects of your business, good or bad.

Actively request positive reviews

Encourage happy customers to leave more positive ones.

If you have 2 bad reviews and 8 good ones, that’s 80% positive. But if you can add an extra 10 good reviews into the mix, you’ll jump up to 90%. The more positive reviews you have, the less significant the bad ones are.

How you ask for them, whether that’s in person or via email, is up to you.

How to develop a strategy to protect your reputation

Now you’ve put in all that hard work to build your reputation online, the last thing you want is for one crisis to undo it all.

Continued monitoring

Don't stop your social media listening. What was key to your audience yesterday, could be significantly different tomorrow.

Set up a free Talkwalker Alert to warn you of any stories related to your business that are getting traffic.

And make sure all the relevant teams in your business have the information they need. Whether that’s communications, customer service, marketing, or executives, if you want to respond fast, you need all your teams to be updated and on the same page. A social media command center will help you with this.

Set crisis thresholds

Before you can handle a crisis, you need to know what one is. As part of your online reputation management strategy, set crisis thresholds, so you know when there is a major issue, and when it’s just background noise. For an example, Hootsuite suggests:

  • Less than five negative mentions per hour: Continue monitoring closely. Compile a report for senior management to review at the end of the day.

  • More than five negative mentions per hour: Begin assigning messages to the public relations manager in Hootsuite.

  • More than 10 negative mentions per hour, for more than three consecutive hours: Contact the CMO, and begin officially rolling out the social media crisis management plan.

Although these will vary significantly based on the size of your business and other factors that are individual to you.

Make a crisis plan

Once you know what defines a crisis, you need to know what to do during it. Again, your plan will be individual to your company, but you should:

  • Define what roles should be fulfilled by your employees.

  • Plan how to keep all key personnel updated on the situation.

  • Develop a brand voice that everyone follows when communicating externally.

  • Prepare any external messaging in advance when possible.

  • Brainstorm some potential crises that could impact your business, and plan what to do if they happened.

How to deal with complaints

The last thing you want is for a complaint to damage your online reputation. Luckily, negative tweets, angry Facebook posts or poor reviews can all be resolved in the same way. And easily too with our complaint handling cheat sheet, included in our free brand protection bundle.

Brand Protection Bubble

Useful tools and further reading

Useful tools

Check out our favorite online reputation management tools, with everything from alerts for when your brand name is mentioned online, to a search engine that helps you find negative reviews.

Further reading

If you’d like more ideas on how to handle a crisis, our report, 'once upon a crisis at Volkswagen' looks at how Volkswagen’s violation of the clean air act impacted on their brand reputation, and how they resolved it using the techniques in this guide.


There you have it. In this brand transparent world, your business is left open to criticism and complaints. But with the right monitoring and this online reputation management guide, you can keep constantly updated on your consumers’ perceptions, and take back the reins of your online reputation.

If you’ve any brand reputation management tips, leave them in the comments. Or find out how Talkwalker can help you with social media monitoring by clicking below.

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