The internet has made brand management much more involved now that there are so many digital channels for customers to communicate through.
Customers now have the ability to voice their opinions—and they really want to be heard. In essence, brand management is about managing those conversations while nurturing a positive perception at the same time.
Your online presence is a powerful weapon for your brand. Are you wielding it responsibly? Here are 4 tips for managing an online brand effectively.
1. Actively monitor your brand
You can't participate in conversations that you don't know are happening. It's important to actively monitor what's being said about you online, along with metrics that provide a broad overview of how your brand is doing.
Luckily, there are a lot of tools out there that will alert you when your brand is mentioned.
From setting up classic Google Alerts to more in-depth tools like BuzzSumo's brand monitoring feature, there are plenty of ways to make sure you're part of the conversation.
Additionally, keep a close eye on the first page of Google results when you type in your brand name.
The other critical piece of active monitoring is that you actually respond when your brand is mentioned, especially when it comes to negative criticism. Respond quickly and honestly, keeping in mind that it's just as important to be authentically human as it is to maintain brand voice.
Keep track of your online analytics, both for your website and your social media pages. Together, this will give you fuller insight into how your content is performing and whether it's truly resonating with your audience. Traffic, time on page, and bounce rate are all good indicators to keep an eye on. Be on the watch for any negative fluctuations or downward trends.
2. Continuously encourage customers to write reviews
As we know, customer reviews are hugely influential in shoppers' buying decisions and for your brand overall. Remember, nearly 85% of people trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Let your customers become your brand ambassadors by continuously seeking out more customer reviews.
Some brands—especially startups—are hesitant about asking for customer reviews because they're afraid of criticism that could hurt their growth in its early stages.
By and large, if you offer a solid product or service and provide great customer service, negative reviews won't be the norm. But, when you are met with negative feedback, do your best to welcome it. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, negative feedback can be the most valuable feedback you get—if you let it. It provides insight into areas of your business that need improvement. Again, responding quickly and honestly can do a lot to sway a customer back into your good graces.
Overall, the more reviews you have, the better. Unfortunately, 77% of customers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant. Gathering reviews has to be a continuous process on your part.
Don't hesitate to ask customers for reviews; most will be happy to provide one when asked. But, you must be proactive and ask. One great way to do this is to set up an automated system that periodically emails your customers to ask for a review—for example, after they've made a purchase. This is a great way to earn reviews and increase positive perceptions of your brand.
3. Always address customer concerns on social media
A surprising number of businesses don't address customer complaints on social media and elsewhere. This is a potentially deadly mistake, not only when it comes to addressing that individual customer but many potential customers who are watching these interactions online.
The risk of ignoring that customer? There's a 27% chance they may never do business with you again.
The same survey linked above found that 88% of customers would be less likely to buy from a company who has unanswered complaints on social media.
Silence can be deadly for your brand, so respond quickly.
4. Brand consistency is key, even online
Your website and social media profiles are extensions of your brand—for some, they may represent the entire business. The importance of brand consistency transcends the physical world and extends to your online presence.
The brand is often a company's biggest asset, and a lack of consistency will make your brand less memorable and less trustworthy.
Keep everyone on the same page with clear guidelines regarding design elements, fonts, colors, logos and so on, and make it easy to maintain brand compliance. Don't forget, your brand is also communicated in the content your employees create. So, whether it's through a brand style guide or through branded templates, empower everyone on your team to maintain consistency.
Your employees can be very powerful brand ambassadors, but they must have the support, tools and know-how to do it.
Customer voices are becoming louder. This is a good thing.
At the same time, it's vital for brands to manage their online presences effectively. Ignoring complaints or participating poorly in conversations is not a sustainable strategy. You must be a strong, active advocate for your brand—and give your customers and employees the power to become brand advocates as well.