Online Reputation Management: How to Take Command of Your Brand

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Bill just wanted a fun night out with the guys. They decided to try a different restaurant to shake things up. However, the hamburger he received wasn’t anything like what he gets at his usual place. The fries were too thick and it took what seemed an eternity for the food to be served.


Jill just wanted to open a neighborhood eatery. She prided herself on her new twist on a hamburger. Many of her friends had told her how much they love the thick-cut fries and the causal atmosphere helped people get out of the hustle and bustle.


So now, Bill has become the self appointed food police and logs into Yelp to express his disappointment. Jill wakes up after a long night, only to find her image maligned by a customer. Jill replies to Bill’s comments to explain the concept and that he should try it with a new attitude. Bill takes it as a personal assault and gets his friends to post as well. Soon, Jill has a whole collection of negative comments and it is going downhill fast…


Online reputation management strengthens your internet presence, allowing you to steer the conversation about your brand where you want it to go. To take command of your brand, follow these best practices for generating, responding, and managing your online reviews.

Best Practices to Improve Your Brand’s Reputation

Monitor review sites closely.

Social media can be dangerous because it’s easy to “set it and forget it.” If you have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. you need to take the time to monitor the activity on each of your pages. You never know when someone will have something to say about your business. And whether it be good or bad comments, ignoring feedback shows current and prospective customers that you’re not interested in what they have to say.

Don’t have time to check your social media every day? No problem! Collaboration solutions such as HootSuite can assist in managing your online reputation. You can also set up a Google Alert to see online mentions of your brand with instant, daily, and weekly notifications. Even simply setting a time once each week to go through all of your social media channels can help you stay on top of your brand’s online reputation.

Respond to every review.

Yes, even the positive ones. A quick “Thank you!” or “We appreciate your business!” will let your customers know you saw their praise and appreciate it.

This also shows potential customers that you are attentive and welcoming of your customer’s feedback. Review sites with no formal response, especially to negative reviews, can make your business seem uninterested in customer feedback which may be a turn-off to potential customers considering doing business with you.

Make your response to negative feedback thoughtful.

Responding to negative reviews or comments can be complex. While your first urge may be to shut down the negative and mean things people have to say, it’s extremely important that you take some time to craft an appropriate and thoughtful response. Based on our own online reputation management, here’s our keys to a great response:

  • Empathize
  • Acknowledge the issue
  • Offer a solution (if possible)
  • Move the conversation offline

Let’s look at an example.

“I waited over 30 minutes to get my food and it was cold by the time it got to our table. I’m disappointed because I was really looking forward to bringing my husband here and now I won’t be back.”
“Angela, I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at our restaurant. I understand that your food was 15 minutes late to leave the kitchen and arrived at your table cold. We were short staffed, and I am now working with my employees to make sure that, even down a person, orders are delivered to tables on time. I’d love to have you and your husband back next week for half off your meal and a free dessert. Feel free to give me a call to set up your next meal or discuss other resolutions.


By including these key elements in your response, the reviewer will know you have heard them and understand their issue, are working towards a solution, and are willing to continue the conversation in a constructive way.


Using these elements also helps your brand have a consistent voice when responding to negative feedback online. So no matter if your social media intern, office manager, or you personally are responding to reviews, your brand will be represented tactfully and professionally.

The best way to get more reviews is to just ask!

Asking for reviews is totally okay! Start with customers you know have enjoyed their experience or who have become regulars at your establishment and simply ask, “Would you mind sharing your positive experience with us online?” Asking for this simple favor shows your customers that you trust them with your online reputation and makes them feel good about being able to help you out. Research shows this can even help when making a sale!

However, stay away from offering incentives (e.g., a free appetizer, discount coupon, or gift card) for these reviews. Not only do incentives tend to produce feedback that is over-the-top and exaggerated, but this can be illegal. Companies who offer incentives for social media reviews can be taken to court and penalized thousands of dollars. No positive review is worth a lawsuit. Just use your common sense and make sure that when asking for reviews your customers know there are no strings attached.

Note: When asking for reviews you want to encourage customers to leave feedback that is honest which includes what they liked and what they think could be improved.

Don’t delete bad reviews.

As tempting as it may be, deleting negative reviews is a huge no-no. Websites with only positive reviews are a red flag to smart consumers who can sense the comments are being cooked to favor your business. Instead, stay up-to-date with the content guidelines for social media and review sites and report negative reviews that are mean, inappropriate, or otherwise break the rules.

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