Do you know how your brand is perceived by the general public? Is that different from how it’s perceived by your target audiences? Is it the way you’d like it to be perceived?
Do you easily follow shifts in attitude toward your company, products, or services? Do you notice dips and surges in popular opinion, and are you able to track that timing back to announcements from your company, outreach that was sent through, or other people’s discourse about your brand in particular or the industry you’re part of overall?
And while all of that is going on—do you feel like your company is controlling that narrative?
Reputation management is an essential part of brand marketing. It helps companies understand if they’re reaching the right people (rather than just a high volume of people) and if they can predict things like customer retention (since a single conversion is never the end of the story). It also helps them reach new audiences and encourage word-of-mouth, plan future incentives, and immediately address or redirect any negativity that might be growing toward any particular aspects of engagement with the brand.
Here are a few ways to ensure you’re staying up to speed on reputation management:
- Reviews: Reviews are an obvious way to learn what people are saying about your company—but are they always accurate? Taken in isolation, you might not be getting the full picture. For example, you might provide the kind of service where people are more likely to leave a review when they’re upset than when they’re happy. It also matters if you are directly sourcing reviews—and the manner in which you go about doing so. Still, if reviews are being left anywhere on the internet, particularly a third-party space like Google Reviews, then it is beneficial to pay attention to what people are saying.
- Online Conversations/Forums: From social media comment sections to business ranking sites, from threads on Reddit to Q-and-A forums like Quora, there are infinite places where people might be meeting up to discuss the pros and cons of choosing your brand. And it’s vital that you view and acknowledge those conversations (and where they’re taking place) at the very least—if not decide to participate or even host a spot of your own where people can come talk honestly or learn more if needed.
- Marketing/Research Surveys: One way to collect client or customer thoughts is to reach out directly and ask. You can email surveys to existing audiences or invite unknowns for a cold study, blindly reacting to your brand, marketing campaigns, website, products, and so forth. For the more data-oriented, Qualtrics allows for in-depth insights about how your audience is behaving and why, so you can match behavior to reported feelings and beliefs about your brand. The comparison is often eye-opening.
- Brand Mentions: In addition to monitoring how individual clients and customers are responding to your brand, it’s important to note when and where your brand is being mentioned in articles, in the press, in general comments, and other areas you might not be actively monitoring. Software like Cision provides reporting on mentions of your company through branded keywords, including specific product names, services, or campaigns. You can also track your team’s names and titles, or you can go a little broader with words related to your industry and company in case people are talking about you without mentioning you by name—this is also a great way to learn of place where you should be advertising or inserting yourself if they aren’t talking about you yet.
- Action Items: Once you’ve implemented ways to track the above, the next step is scheduling a time to periodically sit down and review it. Is your reputation doing well? Has anything changed significantly since your last check-in? Is there somewhere you should be more actively engaged? Any crisis management to consider in certain areas or with certain audiences? In some cases, the resources above will enable you to respond right away and curb any potential reputational downturn, but aside from that, it’s all about keeping a finger to the wind and seeking out opportunity.
For custom guidance on how to track your brand perception in the public, what software can help, and how marketing can help you change the course of your reputation, schedule a consultation with the talented team at Mad 4 Marketing.