Reputation analysis: the key to unlocking your brand’s potential

Key takeaways

  • Reputation analysis is a great starting point for SMBs aiming to grow locally
  • You can use different methods to get information, but the best thing to do is to mix a few of them for the best results.
  • Reputation analysis helps agencies and their SMBs to create a holistic strategy to build brand differentiation, risk mitigation, improved customer loyalty, and enhanced online visibility.

Reputation analysis helps small businesses (or SMBs for short) understand how people feel about them and determine what they can do to better this sentiment.

Download “Why reputation management matters: A churn study” for data-based strategies on retaining clients longer using online reputation management.

Why is improving public image so important? A glowing reputation can boost sales, customer loyalty, and awareness of your client’s brand. On the other hand, a poor reputation can do quite the opposite. By conducting regular reputation analysis, SMBs can stay ahead of potential risks and take steps to a better image.

What is reputation analysis?

It involves tracking mentions, being aware of how the brand is perceived, and then harnessing the power of these online conversations to reinforce the brand promise. In essence, reputation analysis is the process of monitoring and analyzing what people are saying about your client’s business, product, or service online.

It involves monitoring your client’s online presence, such as social media, review sites, forums, and any other online platforms where people may be talking about them. By tracking these mentions, you can get a sense of how people perceive the business and identify any issues that need to be addressed.

Pro-tip: Speed things up with a sentiment analysis

Have you noticed any patterns during your analysis, like common words or phrases? Through sentiment analysis, software analyzes the language used in online conversations to determine whether the feedback is positive, negative, or neutral, painting a picture of the overall tone of the conversations being said.

Why reputation analysis is important for small businesses (with examples)

Reputation analysis helps your clients understand how their business is perceived by customers, stakeholders, and the general public. It can help them to see where they currently excel—or fall short.

Here are the main reasons why performing a reputation analysis is a good idea for small businesses:

Gain a competitive advantage

A strong online reputation is a great way to stand out in a saturated local market. Reputation analysis allows you to identify areas where your brand is perceived positively—or negatively—compared to similar businesses in the area. By addressing their strengths and weaknesses, businesses can better play to their strengths in their effort to attract more customers.

Let's take, for example, a software company named TechSphere. For years, they have faced fierce competition in Silicon Valley. By analyzing how they compared to their rivals, TechSphere identified their strengths (top-tier customer service) and weaknesses (a slow user interface). They decided to revamp their website while highlighting their stellar service in a marketing campaign. The result? TechSphere attracted more customers impressed by the improved UI and retained them with their great support.

Mitigate risks

Reputation analysis can help you to quickly identify potential risks. By monitoring social media, news outlets, and other sources, local businesses can quickly respond to negative reviews and prevent a minor issue from escalating into a full-blown crisis.

Let’s look at an example. Consider a local sushi chain named FlavorFusion. Recently, a customer's post about a subpar dining experience gained traction on their Google Business Profile listing. Thanks to their media monitoring strategy, FlavorFusion was able to spot this review within the hour, enabling them to rectify the concern with the user and have the review taken down before it could impact their business.

Improve customer loyalty

Loyal customers stay loyal for a multitude of reasons, most notably because a business is consistently delivering incredible service and making their customers feel valued. But when it comes to running a business, there is always room for improvement. Reputation analysis is the tool to help you get there, and stay there.

Take for example a boutique fitness studio named FitFusion. Recently, they have experienced less enrollment for their classes. Using reputation analysis, they spot patterns in feedback sprinkled online from past and present customers. Customers mention how they desire more class sections in the evening. FitFusion takes this feedback and uses it to create more instructor-led programming between 6 pm and 9 pm. In the end, applying this feedback attracted new members, and the return of past ones too.

Optimize rankings on local searches

Reputation analysis can help identify sentiments, keywords, and trends associated with a small business in the local market. By closely monitoring their online presence, businesses can gain real-time insights into customer perceptions, preferences, and concerns. This information can then be used to tailor their content, messaging, and engagement strategies to better resonate with their local audience.

For instance, let's consider a local Italian restaurant looking to fill tables in time for Valentine’s Day. By conducting a reputation analysis, the restaurant can identify prevalent positive keywords in customer reviews, such as "authentic flavors," "friendly staff," and "romantic ambiance." These keywords can be strategically integrated into their website content, meta descriptions, and business listings to enhance their relevance for couples looking for holiday dinner plans.

Related articles:
Google Review Management
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Google Reviews
Review us on Google Sticker
How to Dispute a Google Review

5 of the most popular methods of reputation analysis

Here are some of the most commonly used strategies and their strengths and weaknesses:

1. Social media monitoring

Social media monitoring involves tracking mentions of a business on platforms such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram. By monitoring social media, small businesses can get a sense of how their brand is being perceived by customers and identify issues before they can fester.

Strengths:

  • Real-time insights: Provides real-time information about perception and customer sentiment.
  • Early issue detection: Helps to quickly identify issues before they can escalate.
  • Broad reach: Covers a wide range of platforms where customers might be talking about the business.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited context: Lack of context might lead to misinterpretation of the sentiment behind mentions.
  • Noise: Sorting through a high volume of mentions can be time-consuming and may include irrelevant data.
  • Shallow insights: Might not provide in-depth insights into specific aspects of your business.

Great tools on the market for monitoring social media:

2. Online review analysis

This method involves analyzing customer feedback on review sites such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor. By analyzing online feedback, you can identify areas where your business is excelling and areas where it needs improvement.

Strengths:

  • Customer feedback: Offers direct insights into customer experiences.
  • Detailed information: Reviews often contain specific feedback on various aspects of the business.
  • Public influence: Online reviews can significantly impact potential customers' decisions.

Weaknesses:

  • Bias: These reviews can be subject to bias, both positive and negative, affecting the accuracy of analysis.
  • Limited demographic representation: Only captures the opinions of customers who leave reviews.
  • Focus on extremes: Often, only highly satisfied or dissatisfied customers leave reviews on these sites. Some instances of the latter include fake reviews or malicious review bombing on platforms such as Google.

Great tools on the market for monitoring online reviews:

3. Surveys

This involves collecting feedback from customers over email, phone, or in person. By conducting surveys, you can get a deeper understanding of customer satisfaction and quickly identify pain points.

Strengths:

  • Customization: Surveys can be tailored to specific areas of interest to gain a more comprehensive understanding of customers.
  • Controlled data collection: Allows for structured data gathering to address specific research questions.
  • Deeper insights: Surveys can probe deeper into customer perceptions and opinions.

Weaknesses:

  • Sample bias: Survey responses may not accurately represent the broader makeup of your customer base.
  • Low response rates: Getting enough responses to ensure statistical significance can be a challenge.
  • Design biases: Survey design and wording can influence how the customer responds to questions.

Great tools on the market for collecting feedback:

4. Competitor analysis

By analyzing your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, you can develop strategies to differentiate yourself.

Strengths:

  • Strategic insights: Helps identify your unique value proposition and opportunities to stand out.
  • Benchmarking: Provides a basis for measuring your performance against the rest.
  • Market understanding: Offers insights into industry trends and customer preferences.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited to observable data: This method may not reveal all the nuances of your competitors' strategies.
  • Data accuracy: Relies on publicly available data, which might not always be up-to-date.
  • Interpretation challenges: Requires careful interpretation to translate the data into actionable strategies.

Great tools on the market for running competitor analysis:

5. Media monitoring

It involves tracking mentions of your client’s business in the media to identify good or bad press coverage.

Strengths:

  • Crisis management: Allows for quick responses to negative publicity.
  • Holistic view: Provides you with insights from both traditional and digital media sources.
  • External perspective: This method lets you gauge how your business is being portrayed in the larger media landscape.

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of control: Media coverage can be unpredictable.
  • Superficial insights: This method can produce information that lacks depth.
  • Contextual ambiguity: Media coverage might not always accurately reflect customer sentiment.

Great tools on the market for media monitoring:

 

Each method has its unique advantages and challenges. The most effective approach often involves combining multiple methods to gain the most comprehensive insights.

Understanding reputational risk assessment

To conduct a reputational risk assessment, you’ll need to first identify the key stakeholders involved in your client’s operations. These stakeholders may include customers, employees, shareholders, regulators, and the general public. Once you have identified all the stakeholders, you will assess their perceptions of the business’s reputation. You can use some of the methods we mentioned in the previous section to do this.

After the analysis is complete, you can then identify any potential risks that could harm your client. These risks may include unethical behavior by employees, product recalls, data breaches, and negative media coverage.

You should also assess the potential impact of these risks on the small business’s reputation and financial performance. You can use a risk matrix to categorize these risks based on their likelihood and impact.

3X3 Risk Matrix

(source: AuditBoard)

Once you have identified potential risks, you can develop a reputation risk management plan. This plan should include proactive measures to mitigate risks and reactive efforts to respond to negative impacts.

Proactive measures a business can take include implementing ethical policies and procedures, providing training to employees, and engaging with stakeholders to build positive relationships. Reactive measures may include issuing apologies, providing compensation to affected parties, and implementing corrective actions to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

More about the risk matrix:

The risk matrix comes from combining two important things: how likely a risk is to happen and how much trouble it might cause you. To put it simply, this tool helps you see how likely and how damaging a possible problem could be. (AuditBoard)

5 steps to conduct a reputation risk assessment

Now that we have discussed the concept of reputation risk, here are the actions a business can take to assess their level of risk:

Step 1: Identify potential risks

This can include anything from negative media coverage to customer complaints to a data breach. It's important to consider both internal and external factors during your assessment.

Step 2: Evaluate the impact

Start by assessing the severity of the risk and the potential consequences. For example, a negative news article won’t likely cause as big a ripple as a data breach that exposes customer information.

Step 3: Prioritize risks

Not all risks are created equal. Some may have a greater impact on reputation than others. Prioritize risks based on their severity and potential consequences. This will help you focus your efforts on the most critical ones.

Step 4: Develop mitigation strategies

Once you have prioritized your risks, you need to develop strategies to mitigate them. This can include anything from a more robust review management strategy to improving customer service to implementing stronger data security measures. While these risks might never happen, having a comprehensive plan in place can make navigating them much smoother if they do appear.

Step 5: Monitor and refine

Assessing reputational risk is an ongoing process. Monitor your reputation and refine your mitigation strategies as needed.

Related articles:
Can I Turn Off Google Reviews?
How to Create and Share Links to Google Reviews
Google Reviews Not Showing Up? Here’s Some Solutions

Challenges in reputation analysis and risk assessment

There are several roadblocks that you may encounter while performing a reputational risk assessment. In this section, we will discuss some of these hurdles and how you can overcome them for your clients.

Reputations can be complicated

Reputation is not just about the number of positive or negative comments. It is also about the emotions and perceptions that people have about the brand. This can make it difficult to measure reputation accurately.

To overcome this challenge, you need to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative methods such as surveys can help you understand the emotions and perceptions of your target audience. Quantitative methods such as social media monitoring and sentiment analysis can help you measure the volume and tone of online conversations going on about the business.

Lack of data

You will most likely not have access to all the data you need to perform a comprehensive analysis. For example, you may not have access to data about competitors or industry trends.

To overcome this challenge, you need to get creative in your data collection methods. You can use tools such as web scrapers to collect data or collaborate with other businesses in the industry to share data and insights.

Difficulty identifying causes and sources of threats

Reputation threats can come from various sources online, and it can be difficult to identify where they stem from.

To surpass this, you’ll need to monitor brand mentions regularly and respond quickly to any negative comments or reviews. You can also conduct regular audits of social media channels and websites to identify potential reputation threats.

Lack of Resources

Reputation analysis requires time, money, and expertise. Small businesses and agencies with limited resources may simply not have the means to perform a comprehensive analysis on their own without help.

In this situation, consider outsourcing reputation management activities to a third-party agency to offload some work while you prioritize the most important risks.

About the Author

Mary-Margaret Bennett is a Social Media Content Specialist at Vendasta, with a versatile background spanning business development, IT project management, and work as a writer and graphic designer across various industries. Outside of her professional endeavors, she enjoys birdwatching and crafting work for local art exhibitions.

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