How to Audit Your Brand’s Online Reputation
Putting in the work to improve your online reputation has never been more crucial. Find out how your business can benefit from a full-scale reputation audit.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused seismic shifts in consumer behavior throughout 2020 that have persisted into 2021. With the outbreak causing massive shutdowns across entire swathes of the economy, consumers became notably less interested in the value or quality of the products they consumed. Brand loyalty started to also be impacted by consumers’ perceptions of brands’ responsiveness to the needs of workers and the communities in which companies operated.
As we take our first steps into 2021, consumers remain focused on brands with a high degree of integrity and altruism. Having spent the first half of 2020 scrambling to remain in business and the back half of the year pivoting endlessly to try and regain footing, many brands have lost track of their online reputation, a major point of visibility driving consumer behavior right now.
Auditing is a transformative and exploratory process, one that requires an in-depth understanding of your brand and what your overall goals are relative to your customers. We start our discussion overviewing the things you should know about your brand and your mission before diving into an audit. We’ll then delve into how you can go about auditing different online channels to determine where you might need to focus efforts on repairing your reputation. We’ll conclude the discussion by showing how the auditing process will help your brand lay the groundwork for building a more positive brand perception throughout the remainder of the year.
Identifying Your Online Reputation First Requires Introspection
Auditing your online reputation will require you to dig deep across the web in order to identify the space your brand occupies online and how consumers perceive it. Before you get started though, it’s important that your leadership first agrees upon some very basic brand marketing strategies. You should know the answer to questions like these in order to effectively audit your reputation online to determine if your brand is perceived as it should be:
What is your brand’s target audience when it comes to your online channels of communication? Are you interacting regularly with your target audience? Are you interacting regularly with leads that you have neither the intention nor ability to convert to customers?
What do you want your brand to be known for? What’s your driving mission or vision for what you do that you want to convey in order to stand apart from the competition?
Are you communicating the right information online to consumers? Can they easily find the details you want them to find? Can they easily find information that you may not want to be publicly available?
On which platforms do you want consumers to interact with your brand? What actions do you want them to take on these platforms?
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Take a Multi-Tiered Approach to Your Online Reputation Audit
Just as a person’s reputation may precede them in their industry, your brand’s reputation could precede you online, regardless of the efforts you put into your website and social media presence. That’s because brand reputation is based largely on what others have said or written about your brand. So when trying to pin down your brand for auditing your online reputation, you have to take a deep dive across the internet to determine what’s been said, where it’s been said, and what sorts of consumers are saying it most often. This goes for positive and negative reviews and feedback and is truly a brand-neutral approach to information gathering that will in the end help to make your brand stronger.
Auditing Your Website and Inbound Marketing Campaigns
It may seem strange to start so close to home for an online audit, as the intent is to determine what is being said about your brand across the internet. However, you have to remember that your team and vendors have put a lot of time into your organization’s website. It’s been customized to your target audience, optimized for search engines both behind the scenes and through uploaded content, and the analytics generated by user traffic will lead you off in the directions that you need to go on your audit.
Especially useful to the auditing process will be the analytics generated by user-activity and auditing your off-page SEO. Off-page search engine optimization means understanding the different sources that lead back to your page, which will help to determine the sources of web traffic. Some of these backlinks will be natural, that is links from others to content you’ve created, which build your online credibility. Other links could originate from requests to influencers and other online entities that you’ve made, asking them to link back to your content to generate interest in your brand.
Analyzing this data means you’ll be able to quickly identify what channels of inbound marketing have been successful, which are sourcing the right audience, and which sources of traffic aren’t pulling their weight. You might even determine sources of traffic that you have not claimed, such as a review site, that you can then fold into your overall marketing plan.
Social Media Platforms and Profiles
Doing a deep dive into your social media across the major platforms reveals not only how your followers view and interact with your brand on the platforms you’re active on, but also might reveal opportunities to guide and control the discussion on platforms where you’re not as active but ought to be.
Using analytics to determine how active you are on the various platforms, how many posts you make, and the impact of the posts on these platforms helps to determine how much each platform is supporting your mission overall and which platforms are distractions. With social media, the ultimate strategy is to find out where your target audience is most active and engage them on those platforms. However, it is important that you claim your brand’s social media real estate where possible in order to control the narrative of your brand on even those channels where you are not active.
Review Sites and Directory Listings
At this point, we’re taking our audit into the depths of the internet and delving into industry-specific and generic business review sites. While this portion of your audit takes place furthest from the center of your digital footprint, you should still be familiar with the territory. Just as your team claimed your organization’s social media, so should your team have claimed your free brand presence on industry-specific directories and you should also by default have created your Google My Business listing. These outposts across the internet will act as buoys and beacons consumers can use to find your brand and provide feedback, but if properly formatted, can also actively lead them back towards your brand where you can more easily control the dialogue moving forward.
The difference in auditing your presence across review sites and directory listings from auditing other instances of your online presence is that much of what you find on these directories and review sites, aside from your organization’s listings themselves, you cannot change. You cannot edit or remove poor reviews, but many do give you the ability to interact with and respond to reviews in a positive manner–and you should.
Rather than an immediate impact on the information you find in these channels, such as what you might enjoy on your own site or on social media platforms, you’ll instead look at what you find on these review sites as informative. Using these reviews to gauge what strategies and business practices are working and which aren’t, you can adjust your approach to other online resources and possibly even make changes to your overall business methods.
B2B Resources for Getting Your Online Reputation Back on Track in 2021
Understanding the current state of your online reputation should be near the top of your list of priorities at this early stage of 2021, so as to allow your organization to set the agenda for the remainder of the year from a marketing and advertising standpoint. However, at UpCity, we understand that small- and medium-sized businesses already have a lot of ground to make up moving into the new year and limited resources to accomplish something as complicated as a full online reputation audit.
That’s where our marketplace of B2B service providers becomes an invaluable resource. There are numerous service providers in our network with extensive online reputation management experience who can provide clients with access to auditing tools that streamline the process. Find a partnership that will help you to make the strategic changes in 2021 that will drastically improve your business’s online reputation.