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Published January 26th 2021

Online Reputation Management Explained

We explain what online reputation management is, how to do it, and why it's important.

If you’ve never heard it before, the phrase online reputation management might sound like something Hollywood agents or government press secretaries might say. But we all have an online reputation, and it’s important to be in control of the narrative.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is creating and maintaining your own and your business’ good perception online, and on social media. For some companies, this might involve dealing with negative posts and feedback online, but in most cases it’s about ensuring the right content describing a brand or business is as visible as possible to the sorts of people who might be interested in it.

Having an online footprint is vital. Why? The first instinct many of us have when hearing about something is to Google it. So being visible online is crucial for any business, digital or not. More importantly, when someone does find you or your business online, what they see needs to be a reflection of how you perceive yourself, rather than negative stories, gossip or bad reviews.

What does online reputation management look like in reality?

This might all sound quite daunting. But to give an example, an e-commerce brand that sells bouquets of flowers will want to be known as the best place to buy flowers online. This means:

  • Coming up first in search engines
  • Using content and imagery on its site to sell flowers
  • Having savvy marketing strategies that convert and retain people browsing into new customers

In order to maintain a good reputation as the best place to buy flowers, the brand must also:

  • Have a quality product that will be well-reviewed
  • Ensure its website and social media presence is accurate, well-presented and up-to-date
  • Maintain excellent customer service, and deal with complaints
  • Address anything that might tarnish the reputation of the brand

In the same way that a physical store should be welcoming and impressive to its customers, successful online reputation management means clients will enjoy interacting with a brand, and feeling satisfied with the process of buying anything from it.

Why online reputation management is essential

Your online image is made up of many factors including what you post, and what others say about you. This can be hard to manage once something has gone wrong. It may be possible to challenge a bad review or two, but it’s a lot more tricky to change somebody’s mind if there’s more negative than positive content out there.

It’s human nature to click on sensational headlines or gossip, which can lead to a vicious cycle of negative posts climbing search engine rankings as they get more attention, and ending up associated with your brand’s name online. If there is nothing else available to counter bad press like this, your online reputation will suffer.

How to conduct online research

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. Getting started with online reputation management can seem daunting, but there’s a lot you can do to create a good online reputation long before potential worst case scenarios arise.

Do your research

Find out where you’re being talked about. Try googling you or your company’s name to see what’s out there, or do a survey to understand what people think of your business and its competitors. Get a more holistic view of your reputation by using a service like Brandwatch Consumer Research to understand what the perception of you is.

Tell your side of the story

A key part of online reputation management is having your own voice and using it. Even if what other people are saying is positive, creating your own content will ensure it stays that way. Make sure your SEO is strong so that things you say about your brand come up first when people search for you. Build a reputation for contributing to conversations and you’ll find that people speak more favourably about you.

Get social

It’s very important to know what’s being said about you on social media, and to be contributing to, or even controlling, the narrative around your brand identity. Even companies which have chosen not to have their own social media accounts still need to understand – and from time to time engage with – what’s being said about them. Using tools like Brandwatch helps you understand the best way to approach social media, and report on your progress.

Ask for reviews

The online community offers a lot of transparency: if you’re not doing well, you’re going to hear about it. Make sure your staff are all mindful of how they come across – even if they’re not consumer-facing. Something as small as a bad email manner could put somebody off. Putting more effort into building relationships also means that customers are often more willing to be vocal about you. If you’re doing a good job, make sure you ask your customers, clients or fans to leave a glowing review.

Understand the ‘web’ of the internet

The online world moves fast. Often you might not hear about a new innovation until it affects you, but if there’s a crisis, knowing the landscape of the internet and what’s important to people (even if it isn’t to you) will help you react in the best way possible. Keep up to date with the latest trends or bring in experts from online reputation management companies to help.


Now you know the key signifiers of online reputation, start figuring out how you can manage yours effectively. Brandwatch can help you understand what is being said about you online.

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