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A Novice’s Handbook on Managing Online Reputation

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A Novice’s Handbook on Managing Online Reputation

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A Novice’s Handbook on Managing Online Reputation

Exploring the realm of online reputation management (ORM), which involves the ongoing maintenance and control of how a brand, business, or individual is perceived by the public on the internet.

ORM encompasses various practices such as addressing negative feedback, acquiring positive reviews and keeping track of brand mentions.

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Within this blog, we will delve into the following areas:

  • Understanding the fundamentals of online reputation management
  • Recognising the significance of managing your online reputation
  • Learning effective strategies to handle your brand’s online reputation

What Does Online Reputation Management Entail?

Online reputation management involves enhancing the perception of your brand among customers. It enables you to foster customer trust, establish authority in your industry and potentially boost sales.

Although online reputation management shares similarities with public relations (PR), they serve different purposes.

PR utilises relationships to cultivate a positive image for a brand both online and offline. On the other hand, online reputation management focuses on monitoring and managing your brand’s reputation and interactions within the online sphere.

To summarise, public relations and online reputation management strategy employed to shape public perception of your brand.

There are four primary channels involved in online reputation management:

  • Paid media
  • Earned media
  • Shared media
  • Owned media

Role of Paid Media in Online Reputation Management

Paid media refers to various online content that requires payment for featuring your brand. This encompasses platforms such as Google Ads, social media ads, sponsored posts, and influencer promotions.

What To Do?

Hire reputation management consultants who have the knowledge and understanding of using paid media so that you can gain complete control over the messaging.

Earned media entails the coverage and exposure your brand garners from third-party platforms without any monetary transaction.

Examples of earned media include:

  • Press coverage
  • Blog posts featured on external websites
  • Discussions on forums
  • Industry-specific third-party listings (e.g., Glassdoor, Capterra, Trustpilot)
  • Review platforms beyond your direct control (e.g., Google, Yelp)

While earned media can be achieved organically through customer reviews management and online listings, proactive outreach to publications and influencers may be necessary to obtain social media and press coverage, among others.

Earned media has the potential to cast a favourable light on your brand and foster trust among online visitors.

Role of Shared Media in Online Reputation Management

Shared media refers to any content related to your brand that is shared on social media platforms. This includes content shared both by your brand’s official accounts and by other users.

What To Do?

  • Unresolved complaints, negative comments, and low ratings on shared media channels can significantly impact your company’s reputation and deter potential customers.
  • It is crucial to be vigilant about monitoring activities on your social media accounts, just as you would pay attention to customer comments within a physical store.
  • Regularly tracking brand mentions and promptly addressing any negative feedback is essential.

Role of Owned Media in Online Reputation Management

Owned media refers to media platforms that you have full control over, such as your website or blog.

You can influence the reach and impact of owned media channels by enhancing your rankings on search engines like Google. Here are a few strategies:

  • Develop relevant and valuable content that caters to your target audience.
  • Focus on incorporating branded keywords into your content to improve visibility.
  • Optimise on-page SEO elements to enhance your website’s search engine performance.
  • Acquire backlinks from reputable websites within your industry to strengthen your online authority.

Effectively manage your presence in local search results to attract local customers.

By adhering to SEO best practices, you increase your chances of securing higher rankings on Google. Consequently, users searching for keywords related to your brand will be more likely to encounter valuable content from your brand.

The Importance of Reputation Management for Your Business

Safeguarding a positive reputation holds immense significance as it directly impacts sales performance.

Nearly 60% of consumers in the United States stated that they would refrain from purchasing from a brand that appears untrustworthy.

An unfavourable online reputation can severely undermine the trustworthiness of your brand and, consequently, hinder your business’s success.

Here are several other compelling reasons why reputation management is crucial for your business:

  • A staggering 59% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Additionally, 97% of consumers consult product reviews before making buying decisions. Hence, the way your brand is perceived online can determine whether potential customers choose to engage with your business or opt for competitors.
  • Negative reviews are an inevitable part of any business, but proactively managing your online presence enables you to effectively address and potentially turn around such reviews. Studies indicate that customers whose complaints were promptly addressed within five minutes on social media tended to spend more on future purchases.
  • Consistently encountering similar complaints in reviews serves as a valuable indicator of underlying issues that require attention and improvement. By attentively reading and analysing reviews, you can gain insightful feedback on your products, services, and overall customer experience.

Now, let’s explore real-life examples of online reputation management in action to better understand its profound impact on actual businesses.

Reputation Management Examples: United Airlines and Nestlé

One of the reputation management examples is United Airlines:

In 2017, United Airlines suffered a substantial blow to its reputation, resulting in a market value loss of over $1 billion. The catalyst was a viral video capturing a passenger being forcibly removed from an overbooked flight.

Within a single day, the video generated more than 1 million online mentions and accumulated over 100 million views. Criticisms were directed at the CEO for perceived inaction during this public perception crisis. Even today, this incident remains a prominent topic in discussions on online reputation management (ORM).

Another well-known reputation management example is Nestlé:

Nestlé encountered its online reputation management failure when Greenpeace accused the company of engaging in environmentally harmful practices. Instead of directly addressing the issue, Nestlé exacerbated the situation by requesting YouTube to remove Greenpeace’s video.

Therefore, the company faced negative backlash, leading to the temporary shutdown of its public page due to a barrage of critical comments, including an altered version of the KitKat logo with the word “Killer.” This incident serves as a reminder that a single negative story can swiftly transform reputation management into an online nightmare. Hence, proactive management of brand image and preparedness for crises are essential.

Pro tip: When dealing with negative reviews, it is advisable to respond publicly whenever feasible. While deleting negative comments may not be an option, showcasing how you handle such situations can demonstrate to other customers your commitment to addressing concerns.

Process of Reputation Management

1. Before implementing any online reputation management (ORM) processes, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive audit of your online reputation. This step aims to understand how your customers perceive and discuss your brand online, providing insights into areas of strength and potential challenges that need to be addressed.

What To Do?

To begin, review your website, social media profiles, blog, and any third-party business profiles. One effective method is to examine the Google search results:

  • Use an incognito window.
  • Search for your brand name on Google.
  • Evaluate your Google Business Profile, taking note of ratings, reviews, comments, and images.
  • Identify the websites that appear on the first page of the search results.
  • Categorise these websites into ones that you can control (such as social profiles) and ones that you cannot control (such as third-party sites).
  • Consider utilising reputation management tools to gather more information about your brand.
  • Simply enter your brand name in the search bar and select the language used by your target audience.

    The app generates a report containing recent mentions and a chart indicating the percentage of positive, negative, and neutral mentions.

2. Establish an online reputation management strategy. Now that you have insights into your brand’s current online reputation, it is time to develop an ORM strategy. Begin by determining your priorities and what aspects you want to focus on.

What To Do?

  • Prioritising ORM tactics and deciding which mentions to address first allows for better management of your brand’s reputation. The Impact Matrix can assist in prioritising tasks:
  • Quick wins: These tasks are relatively easy to accomplish and have a significant impact on your business.
  • Big bets: These tasks require more effort but can yield substantial benefits for your business.
  • Fill-ins: These tasks are straightforward but have a relatively low impact on your business.
  • Thankless tasks: These tasks demand significant effort but have a minimal impact on your business.

3. To effectively manage comments, reviews, and mentions across various channels, it is important to set ground rules and guidelines. Develop policy documentation and define a consistent tone of voice to ensure cohesive messaging to customers.

What To Do?

  • Creating written policy guidelines aids in task prioritisation and streamlines communication, especially when multiple individuals are involved in reputation management.
  • Clearly define who oversees each channel. If multiple people manage the same channels, establish their specific responsibilities to avoid any oversight.
  • Develop response templates for frequently asked questions to save time and maintain a unified brand voice.
  • Identify influential partners in your industry that all team members should be aware of. Also, specify any individuals or trolls that should no longer receive responses to prevent escalation.

4. Include communication guidelines in your policy documentation to prioritise day-to-day tasks and determine which issues require immediate attention. Based on your audience size and engagement levels, you may receive numerous mentions and reviews simultaneously. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between urgent and non-urgent matters.

What To Do?

  • Assess whether a negative review has the potential to harm your brand significantly. Check the profile of the reviewer and determine if they have a significant following within your industry.
  • Determine if a situation can be easily resolved or if it pertains to a common question or concern that can be addressed without immediate attention.
  • Establish a consistent tone of voice for your brand and share the guidelines with all individuals responsible for customer communication and content creation.
  • Use reputation management tools to define how you want your brand to sound. Begin by selecting adjectives that describe your brand, such as “cheerful,” “trustworthy,” or “authoritative.”

4. Staying informed about what people are saying about your brand is essential. Delayed responses to negative comments can exacerbate the problem. To effectively monitor brand mentions, consider the following:

What To Do?

  • Create Google Alerts for your brand name to receive email notifications whenever new results related to your chosen topic appear in Google Search.
  • Instead of manually searching through various platforms like social media sites and forums, consider using Media Monitoring tools.
  • These tools automatically collect brand mentions from multiple platforms, saving you time and providing a more comprehensive overview of how people discuss and engage with your brand online.
  • By entering your brand name into the tool, you can access a list of all your online mentions, including blog posts, social media posts, news articles, and forum comments.
  • Filter specific types of mentions and even prioritise them based on importance. The tool also provides an analysis of mention trends over time, including the number of mentions received, the influential sites, your presence score, and the sentiment of most mentions.

5. Crises can arise unexpectedly, but you can prepare for them by implementing a crisis management strategy. Consider the following steps:

What To Do?

  • Outline how your team will communicate internally during a crisis, including designating team members responsible for public responses and addressing social media mentions.
  • Keep a close eye on changes in legislation, cultural shifts and technological advancements that could impact your business. Being aware of these trends allows you to proactively respond and adapt.
  • Identify which channels your target audience prefers and communicate with them efficiently. If your audience gravitates toward Twitter, prioritise using Twitter as your primary communication channel to reach a wider audience effectively.
  • Determine who will oversee responding to comments and reviews during a crisis. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may choose to have one or two individuals handle public communication.
  • Have pre-drafted responses ready to address negative comments promptly. However, ensure that each response is personalised and not simply copied and pasted.

Tips for Reviews Strategies: Encouraging customers to leave genuine reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Trustpilot is an effective way to manage your online presence and enhance your reputation. Positive reviews not only have the potential to influence prospective customers but also occupy space on search engine results, providing a positive impression when people search for your brand.

Learn More: Optimising Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Best Practices

Encouraging Customers to Leave Reviews

While not all customers will leave reviews, there are several strategies you can employ to make the review process more convenient, increasing the likelihood of receiving reviews:

  • Provide review links: Include links to leave reviews in thank-you emails or at the end of chat interactions on your website. This makes it easy for customers to access the review platform and share their feedback.
  • Offer clear instructions: Ensure clear instructions are provided on how to leave a review, along with relevant links. Make the process as straightforward as possible for customers to follow.
  • Incentivise reviews: Offer incentives such as discounts or special offers to customers who leave reviews. This can motivate customers to take the time to provide feedback.
  • Respond to all reviews: Take the time to respond to both negative and positive reviews. This demonstrates that you value customer opinions and encourages further engagement.
  • Encourage direct communication: Encourage customers to reach out to you directly if they have had a negative experience. By addressing their concerns personally, you can potentially prevent them from leaving negative reviews.

Tips for Managing Negative Online Reviews:

Negative online reviews can significantly impact customer perceptions, with 94% of customers admitting that such reviews can deter them from choosing a particular business. To effectively manage negative reviews, follow these steps:

  • Assess negative reviews, giving priority to those that rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). Focus on platforms such as Google Business Profile, social media platforms and third-party listings like Trustpilot or Glassdoor.
  • Craft thoughtful responses to negative reviews. Address the concerns raised and provide solutions or apologies when necessary. Show empathy and a willingness to rectify the situation. This demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and may help mitigate the impact of negative feedback.

Remember that an effective reputation management strategy involves proactively engaging with customers and promptly addressing their concerns to maintain a positive brand image.

Learn More: Blog Comments SEO

Creating On-Brand Content

Maintaining brand consistency in your messaging and tone of voice is crucial for effective branding. Consider the following points:

  • The initial impression customers have of your brand greatly influences their perception. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your content is consistently branded to enhance recall and create a lasting impact.
  • Branding should extend beyond your website and encompass other areas such as branded searches, customer review responses, and social media communications. Even small interactions like replying to an Instagram comment can significantly impact brand perception.
  • It is essential to have positive content about your brand appearing prominently in search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for your brand. To achieve this, implement SEO best practices to ensure that your branded content ranks well on the first page of Google search results.

What To Do?

  • Take note of any negative reviews or press that appear on the SERP and consider strategies to address or mitigate their impact.
  • Consistent and on-brand content across various platforms enhances brand recognition and fosters a positive brand image.


To summarise, online reputation management is a vital element in establishing and preserving a positive brand image in the digital realm. It requires actively monitoring and addressing how your brand is perceived by customers and the public online. By effectively managing your online reputation, you can enhance customer trust, bolster brand credibility, and positively influence purchasing decisions.

Here are the Key Points to Remember:

  • A negative online reputation can significantly impact your business, while a positive reputation can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
  • Paid media, earned media, shared media and owned media all contribute to shaping your online reputation. It is crucial to monitor and engage with each channel effectively.
  • Encouraging and managing customer reviews is essential for establishing trust and credibility. Responding to both positive and negative reviews demonstrate your commitment to customer feedback and addressing concerns.

Conduct an online reputation audit: Before implementing an ORM strategy, conducting an audit helps you gain insight into how your brand is perceived online and identify areas for improvement.

Develop an ORM strategy: Creating a comprehensive strategy involves prioritising ORM tactics, establishing clear documentation and guidelines, and preparing for potential crises.

Monitor brand mentions: Regularly monitoring brand mentions across various platforms and using media monitoring tools provides valuable insights into customer perception, enabling proactive reputation management.

Handle negative reviews: Swift and courteous responses to negative reviews showcase your dedication to customer satisfaction. Address concerns, admit mistakes if applicable, and offer solutions or apologies to mitigate the impact of negative feedback.

Create on-brand content: Consistency in messaging and tone of voice across channels reinforces your brand identity and aids in customer recall. By implementing SEO best practices and monitoring search results, you can dominate the search engine results page (SERP) for brand mentions.

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