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    Establishing and protecting your brand’s reputation online

    You did it. You built your brand into one that consumers love and trust. You might be thinking the ride is smooth sailing from here, but the work is just beginning. Now you have to maintain the momentum and manage your brand reputation.

    Building and maintaining your brand in a crowded market is no easy feat. According to Nielsen Media, as of 2022 there are over half a million brands globally. That’s a lot of competition for your audience’s attention. In these times of uncertainty and rapid change, consumers gravitate toward brands they trust. Building that trust isn’t your job alone, it takes a collective effort between yourself and your audience.

    In this piece, we’re digging into why managing your brand reputation on social matters along with tools to help you measure your reputation performance.

    Why is brand reputation important?

    Today, consumers expect more from a brand. It is not just price and quality they’re after. They’re also seeking authentic interactions on their favorite social platforms. With the fast pace of social, positive and negative interactions with your brand can spread like wildfire. Managing your reputation on social helps your brand stay healthy through the ups and downs by addressing these key benefits:

    Aligning with customer values

    Shoppers and consumers are eager to know that the brands they love share their values. According to The Sprout Social Index™, 71% of consumers believe it’s important that brands take a stand on social issues. To establish a strong brand reputation, take a stand on issues that matter to your organization and your customers. Then, make those values known on social.

    Patagonia, known for being environmentally conscious, recently changed their mission  to a very clear purpose: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” Their values are clear across their social channels. For example,  their “Worn Wear” campaign on Twitter highlights sustainable fashion that is meant to last.

    On TikTok, the brand expertly showcases their mission by connecting their audience with grassroots organizations through Patagonia Action Works. Looking at the comments, their customers value this differentiation and commitment to saving our planet. If you know your audience shares in your brand’s beliefs and mission, lean into it.

    @patagonia

    Together, we can make a big impact. Ready to get involved? Patagonia Action Works makes it easy to find & support grassroots organizations near you!

    ? original sound – ??atagonia – ??atagonia

    A customer comment on the Patagonia TikTok account that reads "This will actually be really helpful to find companies and people who are making a difference and to help support them. Thank you."

    Supporting your community

    Taking a stand on social issues ultimately supports the larger community while building a brand’s trust, reputation and business. When a brand takes a stance that consumers align with, 36% of customers said they’ll purchase more from that company.

    Nike is a solid example of a brand executing its mission and beliefs. Their Twitter profile proudly displays #BlackLivesMatter. Recently, the athletic brand took it a step further, announcing its partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country. Nike’s Yardrunners Collection celebrates the history of HBCUs with clothing that emphasizes student leaders and alumni who are paving the way for excellence in their community.

    Diversity and inclusion within their organization have also been a staple to the brand, pledging $10 million in scholarships and academic partnerships to increase interns and direct hires from HBCUs.

    Maintaining customer loyalty

    Consumers have endless options. Yet, 90% still consider themselves brand loyal. Social media is a great way to build and maintain loyalty. Your audience is already invested in your brand story, so use social media as a way to expand on your social proof and foster brand advocacy. Brands like Orange Theory have used their social presence to create a space for loyal advocates who love their classes and want to tell their friends.

    A loyal audience can boost your brand reputation for you while also driving new business. They spread information about your brand, tell their friends and give honest reviews.

    The impact of social media on brand reputation

    Social media and brand reputation go hand-in-hand. From the value of your products to the quality of customer service, people are likely already talking about your brand online.

    And this creates opportunities for brands to manage their public persona on social media.

    Digital word-of-mouth matters

    Some 53% of consumers like or follow a brand page on social media to learn about new products and services. When it comes to purchasing decisions, digital word-of-mouth is crucial for growing your audience and reputation.

    There’s also power in brands prioritizing online conversations that are visible to the masses. According to The Sprout Social Index, with more than three-quarters of consumers expecting a response on social within 24 hours, being responsive on social shows future and current customers you care. Social media allows brands to use reputation management to engage, answer questions and interact with their customers, humanizing your brand, which turns out, consumers appreciate.

    Reputation can take years to build and seconds to lose

    Social media is authentic and mostly unfiltered, making it ripe with opportunities for success or misstep. With just one post, the reputation you’ve built can falter. But the organic conversations on social also give you ample chances to listen and learn from your customers, reshaping your brand reputation with genuine feedback to correct any missteps. Like many hospitality brands, Airbnb has seen their fair share of negative reviews from renters and hosts.

    By monitoring their reviews and listening to their audience, Airbnb was able to make strategic moves to better its reputation. In May 2022, they launched a new “AirCover protection plan for guests and hosts, promising quick reimbursement for hosts and up to $1 million in damage protection to address concerns about protecting personal property.

    3 tools to help you protect your brand reputation

    As your brand grows, you’ll need to employ tactics that build, maintain and protect your brand at scale. The key to online brand reputation management is to be proactive on social by building your brand and monitoring sentiment. Here are three ways you can use social media to manage brand reputation.

    Social listening

    Social listening taps into online conservations centered around your brand or industry. Listening not only gauges public perception of your brand, but enables you to find relevant conversations surrounding your brand or reputation that you may not be tagged in.

    Social listening can help uncover:

    • How customers feel about your brand or product
    • How popular a conversation is around your brand
    • If sentiment is trending up or down
    • The kind of content people share about your brand

    With Sprout Social Listening, you can analyze comments or sentiment surrounding your brand while gaining actionable insights into your customers, their habits, pain points and overall customer experience.

    Social analytics

    Using social media analytics tools gives you a pulse on the social sphere. You can dig into the essential data influencing your reputation, such as trends, voice of consumer data, engagement rate, volume of comments or messages and more. Sprout Social’s Analytics enable you to see the bigger picture of your presence online while allowing for complete oversight of all of your social profiles. By leveraging Sprout’s analytics tools, you can gather data and apply it to your social strategy all in one place.

    Direct messages & inbox management

    One of the biggest benefits of social media is its ability to strengthen customer relationships. As customer service becomes a point of differentiation for brands, direct messages (or DMs) are a growing convenience for a customer. When a customer messages your brand, it’s important to respond quickly and personalize your responses.

    With a tool like Sprout, you can monitor your messages and comments across networks, so you can triage customer questions or concerns while not missing an opportunity to connect directly. Inbox management tools can help visualize your inbound message volume, find new conversations and help your team enact quick responses. Features like Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox help streamline your messages in one place, supporting your customer service process within social to build and protect your brand reputation.

    This will help the customer feel seen and foster a positive experience. Direct messages are also helpful for handling negative comments or reviews, allowing you to move the conversation to the privacy of a DM and reducing damage to your reputation.

    Be proactive about brand reputation online

    Building a positive brand reputation and having the tools to manage it are essential to maintaining a positive image and building trust.

    To manage brand reputation is to know how you can build your brand’s experiences around your consumer’s expectations and values, ultimately shaping how they perceive you. Take it a step further with our corporate communication plan template so you have a set plan of action for any situation. 

    The post Establishing and protecting your brand’s reputation online appeared first on Sprout Social.

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