| Feb 7, 2023 | | 11 min read

How social media plays a role in reputation management


Almost 60 percent of the world population uses social media (SmartInsights). More important, almost 80 percent say that social media influences their buying decisions (Forbes). Those numbers stress the importance of social media reputation management.

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Social media has wide-reaching impacts on how people perceive your clients. It’s why you have to pay attention to social media if you want to succeed in online reputation management (ORM).

This guide reviews steps you can take to manage your clients’ social media presence—and their online reputations—the right way.

What is reputation management?

Reputation management refers to activities that impact how customers think about your clients and improve customer perceptions.

A common example is getting more 5-star reviews for a client. Your agency can take steps to increase the number of reviews customers leave for the client. In turn, their Google rating should improve, and more people will trust them. After all, customers think products with an average of 40 reviews are more trustworthy (FinancesOnline). They also prefer to shop with businesses that have ratings over 3.3 stars (Search Engine Journal).

How does social media factor in reputation management?

Social media enables customers to voice their opinions in a public forum. At the same time, your client can interact directly with those comments. All the while, other social media users can watch as the conversation unfolds. How your client acts, then, can have wide-reaching effects.

Conversations across social media offer you a chance to connect with prospects and customers alike. Social media includes platforms like Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It also includes Facebook, Google, and other reviewing platforms, like Yelp. Finally, social media includes YouTube, Reddit, and even blogs.

Why social media reputation management matters

If your clients aren’t active on social media, you might wonder if it matters. Do they need to pay attention to Twitter conversations if they don’t use the platform? Do listings on Yelp change opinions?

The answer is that social media ORM matters whether your clients are active on a platform or not.

More than that, though, social media has impacts that make it essential for ORM efforts. These include:

  • Increased visibility and credibility for businesses
  • Improved customer trust and loyalty
  • Enhanced reputation and brand image
  • Better reputational crisis management

Being aware of conversations on social media is the first step to better social reputation management.

Social media increases visibility and credibility

Have you heard the maxim “if it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist”? The sentiment holds true for brands on social media. If customers can’t find your clients, they’ll likely shop with someone they can find.

Social media increases visibility and the credibility of a brand. When customers can find the brand with ease, they’re more likely to shop. Credibility improves when prospects can see the brand interacting with other customers.

Improving customer trust and loyalty

Social media makes it easier than ever to engage customers and build a community. When a brand is on Instagram or TikTok, it’s easy for loyal fans to show up.

These platforms make it easy to get feedback and your clients can learn their customers inside out, which in turn, improves customer trust levels. Trust translates to loyalty, with all its benefits, including higher sales.

Enhancing brand reputation and image

Social media lets your clients join conversations and even shape the discussion. Transparency, increased engagement with customers, and gathering customer feedback lead to better brand reputation and increased trust (Newsweek).

When your client is transparent, customers can make more informed and confident buying decisions, as they feel the brand is more trustworthy and reputable.

Social reputation management allows you to manage crises

Social media can become the first place customers turn to express dissatisfaction, acting as an “early warning” system for a client’s brand image. That might seem like a bad thing at first, but proper crisis management and ORM gives your client a chance to set the record straight with their customers.

How to do social media reputation management successfully

Social media has a clear impact on your clients’ reputations when you focus on building trust and community, rather than looking for “likes.” As a result, you need to include it as a key part of your ORM activities, and these tactics can help you do just that.

Post engaging content for better social reputation management

The foundation of good social media ORM is posting good content. Engaging content helps you connect with your clients’ customers and win them over. Even people who aren’t yet customers will want to follow your clients if their content is engaging.

Reply to comments and messages

Make sure you have a strategy in place for replying to messages and comments your clients receive. Most importantly, always respond to both negative and positive interactions. It can be tempting to ignore negative comments, but responding to them and taking action lets you showcase your client’s customer service.

Create a crisis communication plan for social media ORM

Sometimes, a negative comment or review spirals into a more pervasive narrative, so you’ll want to address any negative stories as fast as you can.

Having a crisis communication plan to use in connection with social media ORM is key. What will you do if someone posts a bad review? What if that review “goes viral”? Who will be in charge of communicating the brand messaging, and which platforms will you use?

Planning for these situations will help you manage your clients’ reputation more effectively.

ORM and social listening

Another key component of social media reputation management is social listening. Social listening isn’t an active part of your ORM and social media strategy. Yet, it’s key to almost any other activity you undertake.

Social listening allows you to track ongoing conversations across different platforms. With it, you can keep tabs on who is saying what about your clients and where they’re saying it. Monitoring these conversations allows you to:

  • Immediately address any negative comments
  • Gather valuable insight into what people think about your client
  • Create messaging around identified strengths and weaknesses
  • Work with the client to create a plan to address identified weaknesses

Paying attention to what your clients’ customers and the public are saying helps you stay ahead of the conversation.

Maintain a positive online presence

One challenge of social media can be maintaining a positive online presence, and doing so can help your clients’ reputations. Maintaining a positive online presence often happens through:

  1. Posting engaging content.
  2. Engaging customers in a friendly and positive way.
  3. Being respectful and helpful when responding to comments goes a long way.

A positive online presence draws customers and prospects to your clients’ brands, while encouraging them happy to engage and interact.

Build a community and engage customers

Building a community and engaging customers feeds back into a good reputation. It also increases customer trust and loyalty.

A positive presence makes customers want to see what’s happening on your client’s feed or their page. If interactions are pleasant and content is engaging, they’ll keep coming back. If you can, organize outreach and community events to involve customers even more.

Use the right tools for ORM on social media

The right tools can make social media reputation management easier. A reputation management platform can help you track conversations. A review management tool can help you keep an eye on reviews and when you need to respond.

A social media management platform lets you post engaging content across platforms. It will help you track engagement, as well as when you need to reply to comments and more.

If you need more help, such as crafting responses, then marketing services could help. White-label social media marketing packages can deliver more of what your clients need.

Best practices for your clients’ ORM on social media

Now that you know the steps to manage social media reputation for clients, review best practices. Let’s look at some tactics you can use to make ORM and social media management easier.

Guidelines for responding to negative reviews and mentions

While everyone hopes they only ever get glowing reviews, the reality is there will be some negative mentions at some point. Responding to these the right way is key to your clients’ reputation.

Around 45 percent of people say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews (Oberlo). In addition, 70 percent of customers said reading responses changed their opinion of a business (G2). When you ignore negative comments, you could be missing a golden opportunity.

Respond to negative reviews appropriately by:

  • Expressing regret for the customer’s poor experience
  • Expressing a desire to “make it right”
  • Asking the customer to take the conversation private if needed
  • Offering a resolution

Offering a resolution publicly lets other customers see how you resolved the situation. If the customer is upset, though, then discussing details in private might be the right choice. If you need to ask for any identifying information, then move the conversation to an inbox.

Having scripts and strategies helps. With them, you and your white-label social media team can respond to negative reviews the right way.

Strategies for preventing and addressing crises

Having a communication plan in place is fundamental to addressing crises. Better yet, is having a strategy in place to prevent crises on social media (Forbes).

Social listening

As mentioned earlier, paying attention to what people are saying with social listening can help you get ahead of negative feedback. Likewise, responding to a negative comment or addressing customer concerns can avoid a crisis before it even happens.

Plan your key messages

Having plans for messaging if you make a social media misstep or your client delivers disappointing service is key. A good crisis response plan will assign key roles. Responding, rather than reacting, is also crucial. The plan should outline key messaging and stress the steps to take to defuse the crisis.

Acknowledge and take action

One of the most effective tactics is to address the concern directly. If you try to deflect or distract, people may become more upset. That, in turn, can lead to the conversation leaving your hands. Assure customers that your client takes the concerns seriously. If you can, outline the steps that the client will take to address them, both now and in the future.

Tips for building and maintaining a positive online presence

Building a positive online presence can help you avoid crises. Posting good content, responding, and being helpful are the foundations of a positive presence.

Concrete steps you can take to create a more positive online presence include:

  • Listening to customer feedback
  • Incorporating that feedback into your social media strategy
  • Creating engaging content based on data analysis
  • Encouraging and engaging conversations with and between customers

An example is a poll about what customers struggle with the most when it comes to picking a restaurant. You could even ask them for their tips about picking a restaurant. Another post might ask customers about the kind of content they want to see.

Sharing tips and maintaining a positive tone will make your client a more pleasant social media presence.

How to engage with customers and build a community

There is some overlap between “maintaining a positive online presence” and engaging customers. Engaging customers is key to building a community, which the last set of tips also touched on.

Creating a community means carving out a space where customers can interact with the brand and each other. It means fostering conversation. Allowing conversation makes customers more likely to enter your client’s social media orbit time and again. It also means customers are more likely to see them not just as a trustworthy brand but as a partner and resource.

Managing reputation across the social sphere

Social media goes far beyond Facebook and TikTok, and that means you need to manage it all as part of ORM. Using the right tools, engaging best practices, and having the right outlook are key to your success.

Understanding your clients’ customers and their audience is also crucial. With the right tools, you can collect more feedback and more data. The better your understanding of their audience, the more you can post content that speaks to them.

With a better social media strategy, more engaging content, and a strong community, you can help your clients build better reputations on social media and beyond.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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