Reputation management strategy

An article for marketers and entrepreneurs who need to manage their reputation – in particular, work out negative reviews on the Internet.

Before purchasing, people read reviews about the product and the seller. Numerous studies prove this.

If there are a lot of negative reviews about a company or product, users are less likely to make purchases. In some industries, this can lead to collapse. You must work with a reputation to prevent or correct such a situation. And this requires a strategy.

What is a reputation management strategy?

A reputation management strategy is a document that describes how a company manages its online reputation. Everything is sorted in it – for example, how often and with what services you need to track reviews and how to respond to them.

There is no single template for a document – how large it is and what it contains depends on the company’s goals. The strategy may take 3-4 pages for one business and a hundred pages for another. It is convenient for someone to make a strategy in DOC, for someone in PDF, and for someone in presentation format.

A reputation management strategy can be confused with a SERM strategy. It is not right.

ORM – online reputation management, or online reputation management. SERM – search engine reputation management, or reputation management in search results. Search results are only a small part of the Internet. Therefore, the SERM strategy is part of the reputation management strategy.

Who needs a reputation management strategy and why?

A strategy is needed for all companies that care about their reputation, even small ones. Without a strategy, work with reputation will be targeted and will not bring such an effect as an integrated approach.

A reputation management strategy provides this integrated approach. Thanks to it:

  • employees understand where their area of ​​responsibility is and what they should do;
  • there are no contradictions in the company’s messages on different platforms,
  • employees work simultaneously with all sites where there is a target audience;
  • and so on.

Over time, the company’s reputation improves, affecting its financial performance. Simplified, it looks like this: they think well about the company → products are bought more often, → revenue is growing.

Different specialists can draw up a strategy. Ideally, marketing, PR, and HR departments work together on it. Still, an outsourced agency or one person engaged in strategic planning, such as a brand manager, is responsible. In small companies, the strategy may be developed by a marketer or PR specialist.

The strategy will be used by everyone who works with the reputation – the one who monitors the appearance of reviews and mentions, the one who responds to reviews, and the one who solves the problems of customers described in them. In large companies, document users can be tens or hundreds of people.

What is a reputation management strategy?

The reputation management strategy generally consists of descriptions of the object of reputation, goals, and all blocks of work.

An object is one whose reputation is being managed. It can be a company, a product, a service, a person, an event, a territory, or even a single industry. Within one strategy’s framework, several objects’ reputations can be managed. For example, if a company releases several products, it can work with the reputation of each of them, as well as the reputation of the brand as a whole.

Goals are why the company manages its reputation and what indicators it wants to achieve. For example, you can set a goal to change the reputation background from negative to positive, remove the most negative reviews, or increase your rating in recommender systems.

reputation management strategy

Blocks of work are what those who work with reputation do. For each block, they write who is responsible for it, what this person does, when, and how – with the help of what tools or methods. Here are the most common blocks of work:

Information monitoring. For example, a strategy might specify that a manager should visit the Brand Analytics monitoring service daily and look for fresh mentions. And administrators of outlets must manually log into their Yandex Maps account and see if new reviews have appeared.

Working with mentions Mentions is any post that mentions a product, brand, person, or another object of reputation. For example, comments or posts of users on social networks. The strategy describes how to work with them:

  • How quickly you respond to negative mentions.
  • What to offer.
  • How to resolve conflicts.
  • How to thank if a user praises a company or product.

Working with reviews. The strategy lists the sites where the company will work with reviews and the rules for processing them. For example, which reviews should be responded to and which should not, what to write to dissatisfied users, to whom to report the problem described in the review, and so on.

SERM. The strategy can determine which links are worked with using SERM tools and which are not. You can try to oust a new site with low traffic from the search results, but it is impossible to do this with a large site like “Otzovik,” so you can only change the tone of reviews on it.

Removing information. This part of the strategy will describe how information can be removed. For example, with what request to go to the administration of the resource and what documents to provide for the fictitious review to be deleted, how lawyers should act to remove an article from the media or correct the information in it.

Also, the strategy can describe other work areas that affect the reputation. For example, SMM – because how a company responds to comments affects the opinion of users about it. Or PR – because he sets the positioning and tone of voice: the communication style with the target audience.

How to develop a reputation management strategy

A lot of work must be done to put together a reputation management strategy. It can be divided into six stages.

The first stage is analysis. First, they study the company’s current reputation, look at how competitors work with reputation, and what is generally happening in the industry and related niches. This is necessary to understand how to work with reputation and what results you should strive for.

For example, without data analysis, a transportation company might want to achieve a 4-star rating on recommendation resources. But this is impossible: in logistics, 2 points is already an excellent result because this is the specifics of the industry. But for FMCG, 4 points is a low score because, on average, products receive 4.5-4.8 points.

The second stage is setting goals and objectives. First, you must understand why the company wants to work with reputation. For example, to change public opinion or to carry out prevention – to ensure the reputation does not deteriorate.

Based on the global goal and analysis data, you need to write down the tasks and KPIs in detail – key performance indicators. For example, you can use the loyalty index and set the goal to increase the indicator to 0.2. But remember that changing your mind about a brand or product is a long process, the results of which will only appear for a month.

The third stage is a description of the mission, goals of the company, and the message it will carry to the masses. All this is set during positioning – one of the stages of branding.

If the company is not working on positioning and branding, it may be better to postpone the creation of a reputation management strategy. First, you must work out the image the target audience should have when they hear about your company. With this, communication methods will be more heterogeneous and, therefore, more effective.

The fourth stage is the selection of sites where the company will work with a reputation. It is best to cover all sites where a company or product is mentioned – recommender systems, video hosting, media, social networks, services, etc.

If there are no resources to cover everything, you must choose the most priority sites that affect the performance. For example:

  • Among the recommended resources are those in the top results for the query “brand + reviews.”
  • Among the app stores are those where you get more downloads or more revenue.
  • Among the media – are those that have the most readers.

Priority sites need to be constantly worked on. But the rest should be remembered – it is better to write in the strategy that needs to be reviewed periodically.

The fifth stage is the selection of tools that you will use. The choice depends on the platforms you plan to work with and what you will do on them. For example:

  • For services, you can use automation platforms like RoketData.
  • For social networks and media – monitoring systems like Brand Analytics or Medialogy.
  • For channels and chats in Telegram — TGStat directory.

If there are few mentions and reviews, the tools can be omitted. For example, to manage the reputation of a cafe in a small town, it is enough for the administrator to manually view reviews in services and recommender systems once a week.

The sixth stage is a description of processes and rules for them. This is the largest part of the work. It is necessary to describe everything related to working with reputation:

  • on which sites there is information about the company or product;
  • who is responsible for updating this information and working with the company card;
  • Who is responsible for monitoring reviews?
  • what reviews need to be taken into work, and what not;
  • after how many minutes, hours, or days you need to respond to a review or mention;
  • in what tone you need to communicate with the buyer or target audience;
  • how to evaluate the sites where information about the company is posted;
  • who should write to the administrators of sites that host fake reviews, and so on.

It takes a lot of work to describe everything from scratch. Therefore, it is possible to fix the main processes in the strategy and then supplement and correct the document.

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