The Internet is forever. So are the things you put online. That’s a great marketing tool, but it’s also the road to certain self-sabotage for many businesses.
After all, your reputation is everything. Especially if you’re trying to capture the attention of online customers.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says half of the world’s population is online. Any of these people can say something about your brand at any time.
A Google search of your name or brand might shock you. 75% of US adults who Googled themselves don’t like the results. As a business owner, this should worry you. After all, unless you’re a movie star, people talk about businesses more often than they talk about individuals.
And unless you want a bad reputation, it is imperative to keep tabs on what everyone says about your brand online.
How Reputation Management Works
Reputation management is the art and science of monitoring what the online world has to say about your brand. Once you analyze what’s being said about your business, you can control the messaging to your advantage.
Online reputation management entails using every available tool to influence what people think (and say) about your brand. It has to because of the way people praise (or complain about) your business has changed.
Traditionally, businesses waited for customers to call back with complaints about their services. Today, nearly 60% of Millennials prefer to use social media to voice concerns and complaints. Online users comment on social media, blogs, your website, video forums, and write reviews and testimonials about your products and services.
Whatever happens with your brand is crucial to the immediate and long-term future of your business. If you don’t monitor your social media platforms, you risk leaving your brand vulnerable to the whims of strangers, competitors, and trolls.
To monitor all these online platforms manually, it would require thousands of dollars and endless hours that your marketing team can’t spare. Big companies set aside budgets to hire reputation management firms, but small businesses don’t have the resources of a Fortune 500.
Luckily, for the rest of you who don’t have the resources, there’s another way out.
Is Free Online Reputation Management Possible?
Free online management tools come in handy for small businesses interested in improving their online image. It also intertwines with search engine optimization (SEO) to create a holistic reputation approach.
Through online reputation management tools, you can get feedback about brand mention and what people have to say about your brand.
At this point, SEO comes into play to help boost positive content about your brand. SEO tactics such as blog and article posting, social media networking and link building can help boost your brand’s reputation in a positive light.
The best free online reputation management tools help in:
- Assessing/Auditing your brand reputation: You will get a comprehensive report of all your brand mentions across a host of online platforms.
- Reputation repair: If there’s any negative brand mention, you have to implement a strategy to correct the situation. Reputation management consultants do this through keyword research, content building, content sharing, and other white hat SEO techniques.
- Monitoring: After implementing the reputation management efforts, you need to watch what happens around your brand constantly. Managing and improving your brand’s reputation is an ongoing process, and the best free online reputation management tools provide details reports on the same.
Why Worry About Online Reputation Management?
It is a common belief that to succeed in life; you shouldn’t be bothered by what others say about you. Well, this doesn’t apply to your brand.
In a highly interconnected world, it only takes one negative post about your business to cause untold devastation. Many big brands have had to spend considerable sums on correcting negative perceptions. You can avoid this by continually monitoring your brand’s reputation online.
Monitoring and controlling your brand’s mention online must form part of your overall business strategy for the following reasons:
- Reviews: Bad reviews and ratings can break your business–90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- Better ranking on search: Good reviews lead to better ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs), increased traffic and higher conversion on your website.
- Value of your business: A Deloitte Global Survey on Reputation Risk says more than 25% of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation.
- Brand trust: Most consumers interact with businesses whose reputation is good. If your brand attracts negative reviews and comments always, you risk losing customer trust.
- Improved business performance: A negative reputation leads to a loss of existing customers and diminishes opportunities for acquisition of new customers.
- Brand authority: If you have total control of your brand’s online messaging, it is easy to influence your target customers. You can create an edge over the competition and become an authority brand in your market.
- Simpler and less costly marketing: With a good reputation, it is easier to implement your marketing strategy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money correcting the image of your brand on the market.
How to Leverage Free Reputation Management Tools
If you want to survive the volatility of the online business environment, you have to control your brand’s messaging.
he good news is that controlling your brand’s messaging doesn’t have to cost your small business an arm and a leg. There are free and effective reputation management tools that you can use. These include:
The Search Engines (Google, BING, MSN, Yahoo)
The simplest way to monitor your brand’s reputation is through a quick query on a search engine. You should use depersonalized search results to get an accurate picture of your brand.
these results include everything about your brand, including positive and negative comments, your website’s link profile and much more.
The first step in online reputation management is to learn about the performance of your brand. What do people think about your brand? With the Brand Grader Tool, you can now check your business’ reputation with a simple search.
You only have to type your brand name and an email address. The Brand Grader Tool sends you a detailed report that includes your biggest web influencers, top sources of brand mentions, sentiment detection, mention location, and mentions overview.
Google controls over 90% of the search engine market. If you want a comprehensive look at your brand’s online presence, there’s no better place to start than with Google’s array of tools. Google’s Dashboard gives you a deep insight into everything about your brand online.
There’s a lot of data about your brand, and it goes back years. All this information affects your brand’s performance today. As the old adage goes, first impressions are very important, so you have to understand your old reputation to strengthen the one you have now.
From the Dashboard, you can also set up Google Alerts to receive automated alerts relevant to your brand. You will receive prompt emails when your chosen topic gets a mention online. If you want to stay up to date with brand mentions, make sure you activate Google Alerts.
UberSuggest is originally a keyword search tool that comes in handy for your SEO campaign. However, you can use it to complement Google Autocomplete results. If you want to learn what people find about your brand on search, this is an excellent tool to use.
It displays results for different variations of your brand name. For instance, if an internet user types a letter after your brand, UberSuggest shows you all such results, and this helps you correct any negative results on SERPs.
Complaint Search Box
Most people go online to complain about brands. It is easier for consumers to talk about brands on social media and other platforms than leaving comments on the brand’s websites.
Go Fish Digital built the Complaint Search Box to help a brand find any complaints against them by customers. The tool links to over 40 complaint sites online to give a comprehensive review.
That way, you won’t be stuck guessing what customers think of you. You can spot any complaints that customers have–and address them directly.
While many businesses invest heavily in social media campaigns, they find it hard to assess the performance of their content. With Hootsuite, this is now easy.
Hootsuite is an analytics tool that evaluates your social media content based on the perception of your target audiences. If your social media content elicits poor results, you can spot it right away–and adjust your targeted marketing to get the right perceptions.
Rankur is one of the most popular social media monitoring tools. With so many people using social media networks, brand mentions are essential–they’re basically word-of-mouth marketing for the social media era.
Rankur helps manage your social media presence by showing you what and where brand mentions happen. You can see what people say and in what context to get a picture of your brand’s perceived reputation. You can even set alerts for any online reviews.
Taking Control of Your Brand
Online reputation management is tough, and you have to keep adapting your strategy. But make no mistake: it is one of the most important business practices for any successful online business.
A good reputation earns you customers’ trust which in turn boosts traffic to your website and increases conversion rates.
Controlling your brand’s reputation online is a tedious and costly process, but with these free online reputation tools, you can do it. These monitoring tools provide real-time information about how your brand is perceived in the world, allowing you to take prompt corrective measures to maintain a clean reputation.