social media how toAre you managing your online reputation?

Reputation can affect purchase decisions and influence the growth or decline of a business.

Many businesses are using social media to develop online reputations, manage and respond during a crisis and monitor the conversation to prevent future crises.

Try searching your company and product names to make an assessment of your online reputation. What do you see in the top 10 search results?

What follows are three tips to help you manage your reputation with social media.

#1: Establish Your Online Reputation

When someone Googles your brand name, your business should be sitting right there on the first page waiting for the user. And shouldn’t be the only branded search result.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social brand pages should assist in owning the first search engine results page. Especially if you have a common name, owning your brand name search queries is important for users to find the right information.

Social media can help you create a stronger online presence, so old news doesn’t turn up at the top of search results. If you don’t control your brand, someone else may post inaccurate or derogatory information that could tarnish your reputation.

Take a look at the search results from Lululemon. The first result is for their website, but the next four listings are all social media channels that they own or have the ability to edit and monitor.

lululemon search

These owned channels help push down search results that misrepresent your brand.

According to a click-through rate study published by Slingshot at the end of last year, the number-one ranking on Google gets about an 18% click-through rate and the number-two organic listing gets about 10%. Regardless of the actual percentage, the data proves that the first search engine results page is the most important for your brand’s reputation.

The reason you want to control several of your first page search results is if a crisis strikes and you have set up several social channels, your brand will have plenty of platforms ranking well to disseminate your message.

These branded channels help push down negative or competitor results that you don’t want representing your brand.

Creating social media profiles has given people the channels to voice their joys and complaints about your company. Owning your social media profiles can help you better control and manage the conversation, so you can respond in a timely manner.

If you aren’t marketing with social media, those conversations are going to happen on other channels that may prohibit you from getting involved in the conversation.

#2: Control Responses During a Crisis

A crisis for a company can range from unexpected website issues to a lawsuit. How a crisis is handled online makes a huge difference to the future ramifications. It’s important to monitor and respond to customers who write on your wall or send you messages to resolve any issues and let users know they’re heard.

Facebook was one of the channels Anthropologie used for announcing a huge online sale in May. Right after they posted about the event, the site went down for maintenance. It didn’t take long for Facebook users to complain and point out that they couldn’t get to the site to buy any products.

The social media team did not respond to every comment personally, but was smart to send out a note to fans that they were working on the issue and the site would be back up soon.


Customer complaints were acknowledged and customers were told that the company was addressing the issue.

When the site was back up, a user still couldn’t access the page, so the social team provided a direct email contact to resolve the issue off of Facebook. Providing an email was a good solution because it gave the user somewhere to go to have her issue addressed.

If you can’t solve a user’s problem with a simple post, take the issue offline and out of the public eye as soon as possible.

anthropologie response

Within 10 minutes, Anthropologie responded with another method of customer service.

Sometimes brand ambassadors will even step in to resolve a conflict for you. Though it is helpful when customers support you enough to calm a disgruntled customer, do not assume that will be the case every time. Set up tools and a strategy to monitor the conversation, so you aren’t surprised with the conversations happening about your brand.

#3: Monitor Conversations

Now that you’ve created and are updating several social profiles on behalf of your brand, you may find it a bit overwhelming to keep up to date with what is being said about your brand online.

Savvy businesses are monitoring their brand for mentions with social media monitoring tools.

“Social media monitoring tools are the first line of defense when managing your online reputation,” explains Andy Beal, CEO and founder of Trackur. “Monitoring tools allow you to quickly fan the flames of any praise or fight reputation fires while they are still manageable.”

Before a negative review goes viral or enters the top 10 search results for your brand name, wouldn’t it be helpful to respond and solve the problem or take the issue offline to address?

Social media monitoring tools range from free to more advanced enterprise-level to tools that only monitor certain platforms. Although online monitoring tools capture a vast amount of mentions on the web, no tool can capture every mention due to privacy policy settings.

Here are a few tools worth checking out:

  • Google Alerts is a free tool that monitors all sites that Google can index with options to be notified as it happens or weekly.
  • Trackur is an affordable tracking tool that monitors several social channels, as well as forums and news sites.
  • SocialMention is a free tool that monitors over 70 social media properties.

There are several Twitter-specific monitoring apps, like Seesmic and HootSuite, as well.

Social media is real-time, so the faster your brand responds, the better your customer service will appear.

While people have the right to voice their complaints, it’s up to you to remedy the situation and turn negative comments into positive opportunities. Since social media is public, your quality customer service will be seen by other users and may influence their purchase decisions.

One company that monitors their brand name very well, especially on Twitter, is Morton’s Steakhouse. Taking a quick look at their Twitter page shows that they respond to many online mentions and try to provide the best customer service they can.

morton's tweet

In the second tweet, Morton's offers an email to take the conversation offline.

People love to feel like they are being heard and mentions of a brand are invited opportunities for a company to respond.

What Are Your Experiences?

What do you think? Do you own a business and use social media to provide customer service and news about your company? Are you a customer who has had a positive or negative experience with a company and voiced that experience online? Did the company respond? Share your experiences in the comments box below!

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  • $44796859

    Hi Sarah. The idea of addressing a swarm of customers posting negative comments by addressing them altogether, or deflecting the negativity by asking them to e-mail you is a really great tip; definitely helps to uphold a positive brand image, both to the “complainee” and anyone new who comes across the content and sees how you’ve dealt with it. Thanks for sharing!

  • very helpful as usual, I have been reading this blog everyday for a few weeks and I just realize that I had never left a comment. So thank you, this blog had helped me a lot!

  • Samuel Okoh

    Hello Sarah, i find you piece very educating, i have recently been saddled with the responsibility of managing the social media space in my organisation and will really appreciate more insight to getting this off the ground.

  • Megan Horn

    Shouldn’t monitoring come first?

  • SolsonIII

    I am always surprised with businesses get defensive about negative comment or choose to ignore them. I think they are missing the opportunities they are given to make a change. Simply by responding to the post they have an opportunity not only to change the poster’s mind but also the opportunity to improve their business’s reputation and methods of doing business..

  • Helen Coldicott

    Great article highlighting the real life application of Social Media Networking. I find checking that your Social Media Reputation is on the increase every couple of weeks using a tool like Klout helps and having social mentions sent to your email inbox means you can thank brand advocates or manage any negativity before it becomes a real media crisis.

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  • Great information on social media reputation and i like to come on this website every time and i get too much informative things. whatever going in social world, this is a great place to get accurate information about it.

    Thanks for this

  • Nice to read such a nice and useful information. It will help out a lot to internet marketers who wants to improve their social media reputation. And the example of control responses during crisis is pretty nice. It give me a lot of inspirations and teach me the various things that I need from a long time. 

  • We use a combination of Hoot suite for Twitter, Social Mentions and Google alerts to keep track of our social presence. I would also mention that for a crisis the other key thing you need to be is honest and upfront. Never, ever try and hide things, firstly it’s dumb and the wrong thing to do. It will also come back to haunt you as consumers are smart and will spot a mile off when you are trying to hoodwink them.

  • Think this is a bit flawed really – it’s all well and good pointing out a company called Lululemon monopolising the front page for their brand search term, but more generic brand names are impossible to achieve this with.

  • Dan – Actually your statement is not true.  For our brand, if you type in Social Media Examiner, our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages are the first few that come up on Google.  Unless your company name is something so generic, like Fluoride Toothpaste Brothers, I would imagine you would not have such a challenge. 

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Great advice, Gareth! Thanks for reading. 

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Thanks! Social Media Examiner is one of my favorite resources, too! 

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Exactly! Not everyone is going to like you or your company, but with every complaint comes an opportunity to improve. 

  • Sarah Lokitis

    The three steps I highlighted can come in any order, I believe. Thanks for reading, Megan!

  • I had to use social media recently to settle an auto insurance claim.  My 16 year old daughter totaled her 4 day old car.  It was used and I was having trouble reaching ACV with the company.  I researched all local cars sold and for sale and spoke with Honda – the manufacturer.

    After two low ball offers I went to the company facebook page.  I wrote out my complaint and got a facebook response almost immediately to see if I could send in additonal information and a phone number and they would refer to customer service.  No one called from the executive customer service that day. 

    The next day I updated my post and stated that no one from the executive customer service had contacted me.  I then had a call within 30 minutes asking what would make me happy.  I told them I wanted the value of to be closer to the value I paid. 

    Within an hour I had a new offer that was very fair and I settled.  I don’t believe it would have been resolved as fast or for as much if I hadn’t posted on their facebook page.

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  • Makeusocial44

    What steps would you take to move comments that have made it to the first page of Google.

  • We recently used a similar tactic of offering customers an email contact and it worked really well. Great advice.

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  • Sarah Lokitis

     Great example, Tracy! When done right, social media can help get your questions answered faster than waiting on hold.

  • @sarah Remarkable Post ..@tracy –That’s we Called Power Of Social Media

  • Najat Al_Fahad

    Great article indeed Sara.. thanks for posting. 
    I hope to read form you another post..Keep it up!

  • Great to see one of my former James Madison University SDMAD classmates on Social Media Examiner! Thanks for the great advice @twitter-19573490:disqus and I look forward to more posts from you.  

  • Letting negative conversations run amok in your social media page can turn away potential customers. Occasionally butting in conversations is part of good customer service.

  • Sarah Lokitis

     Thanks, Steph! J-M-U-Duuuuukkkeess 🙂

  • Sarah Lokitis

     Thanks! I appreciate the kind words.

  • Since when a Page tags another Page in a post, the tagged Page does not receive a notification, after reading the initial blog post I had been hoping that Trackur or Social Mention would help fill the gap, but no luck. 
    I gave Trackur a shot with the free 10-day trial, and also have been doing searches on Social Mention (I already use Google Alerts). I knew in advance that several Pages had mentioned us by name (Missouri Arts Council) over the past several days. Trackur’s customer service was really nice, but they didn’t find any of the mentions on Facebook Pages. Social Mention picked up several Tweets (only when I filtered solely for Twitter, not when I filtered for All) but none of the Facebook Page mentions.
    I simply do not understand why FB has made themselves so unrewarding for B2B marketing.
    – Barbara

  • Building a reputation is very important (personal branding) since most people would love to deal with people rather than companies. Linkedin and BranchOut on Facebook are two best ways to build business relationship! 🙂

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  • Darltony

     I believe the answer lies in old fashioned ethos of selling a good product, and backing it up with great service. In the old days that was what got you referrals, and your next job. The same applies to the online community, as you refer to them; “Sometimes brand ambassadors will even step in to resolve a conflict for
    you. Though it is helpful when customers support you enough to calm a
    disgruntled customer, do not assume that will be the case every time.”  The more Brandvocates you have the better. And that to me is a major purpose of making use of social media channels – get more interactive brandvocates.

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  • Jasmine Shields

    As a former customer service community manager for American Greetings, it is critical to have a policy in place that is connected with the legal, PR and customer support teams. Something such as a contact person can help. Trolling occurs often both on purpose or out of a response from another user. The community manager must take the lead in the conversation and provide an expected solution time frame offline (personal message) to help the crisis from escalating to something that can grab national attention.