3 Hard Truths about Building Your Online Reputation (And How to Correct Them)

Your brand reputation makes or breaks your growth, especially in 2023. No one likes hearing that, but business owners need tough love sometimes. Reputation marketing—a smoothie of reputation management and brand marketing—dominates today’s market, and it’s no surprise why: A majority of consumers (including you!) consult ratings, reviews, and word-of-mouth before making any buying decision… even if it’s for a $5 coffee. You could have an incredible online presence and killer marketing, but if you don’t fine tune your reputation, you’ll find yourself wondering where it all went wrong.

Focusing on building your brand reputation sounds fun, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, there are some hard truths that most businesses forget. Before they know it, they’re left burned out and confused.

FURTHER READING: What is Reputation Marketing and Who Needs It?

The Truth About Reputation Building

When a business first learns about reputation marketing, they study it with rose-colored glasses. They focus only on the fun parts and assume that’s all there is to it! They’ll throw some reviews on their website, respond to a few comments, and talk about testimonial after testimonial. This approach may come from a good place, but it’s naive. Why?

Because customer service does NOT build your reputation. As much as we wish it were that simple, reputation marketing requires a bit more fine tuning. Otherwise, we’d all have a successful brand, right? 

Today, we’re going to cover three HUGE mistakes you’ll probably make when first getting your feet wet in reputation marketing. Then, we’ll review how to correct them fast and start leveraging your reputation properly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your reputation.

FURTHER READING: How to Ensure Your Agency Gets Good Reviews

Mistake #1: Relying on Paid and Dishonest Reviews

When you think of a business that PAYS for good reviews, what’s your immediate perception of them? Are they honest and offer a great product, or are they dishonest and use money to trick the market? If you’re like us, you probably think Option B. Whenever we suspect that a business paid for reviews, we’re immediately turned off from them, and we bet you feel the same way. So, no matter how tempting it feels, DON’T DO IT.

The Solution

Deep down, most of us believe reviews and ratings should be earned, not paid for. Why? Because EARNING positive feedback shows you’re playing fair and genuinely want to connect with your audience. 

The best way to do this is simple: Be honest and consistent with your service, then gently nudge your audience to add honest feedback. That way, your audience will trust you, and you’ll effectively tune your strategy to your customers’ wants. If they leave positive reviews, share them on your website and social media!

Mistake #2: Deleting, Ignoring, or Arguing with Criticism

As you grow your audience online, you’ll inevitably encounter some not-so-nice comments and feedback. Frankly, some of it will be downright mean, and you may feel an itch to “prove them wrong.” In our experience, this is the WORST strategy possible. Whether the writer had ill will or offered helpful criticism, NEVER try to silence or argue with it.

The Solution

Instead, if a customer leaves a critical (or even nasty) comment, respond to them with grace, patience, and understanding. Show them your genuine desire to understand their problem and solve it. Even if the commenter has NO intention of listening to you, your kind response will accomplish two things: One, you’ll free yourself from the emotion and move on sooner. Two, if other prospects or customers notice your kind response, they’ll see you as more professional and trustworthy.

Mistake #3: Enthusiastic but Inconsistent Posting

As you embark on your reputation building journey, you’ll probably feel pumped up and ready to invest hours and hours on it… at first. If you’re not careful, you could charge into your reputation project without any strategy, which will only lead to dozens of exciting posts at the beginning, followed by weeks of radio silence because you ran out of ideas. Don’t be that entrepreneur.

The Solution

Instead, the secret is in the strategy. Plan out your reputation build MONTHS in advance, even if it’s just a rough sketch. Doing this is KEY to avoiding the “excitement trap” and posting inconsistently. Anyone can make an account and post for a few weeks, but prospects are drawn to the brands that post for months and years without fail. Consistency is the name of the game, so prepare yourself before taking action. Your sanity and audience will thank you.

With enough practice and commitment, you’ll begin to see your reputation take form. Offline Sharks took years to build, but with patience and grit, we wouldn’t have done it any other way. Honesty, patience, and consistency always win!

ALSO READ: How to Gain and Retain Reputation Marketing Clients: Our Top 4 Strategies to Building Your Brand’s Image

Picture of Nick Ponte

Nick Ponte

Born and raised on Maui, Nick was employed as an automobile mechanic before founding his own local marketing agency. Nick naturally wrestled with the change from tradesman to marketer (not an easy transition) but, like Tom, he wouldn't give up. Through years of commitment, Nick has grown to be a highly skilled web developer and marketing expert with a specialized skill-sets in a variety of fields. He has developed many high-traffic, high-quality websites that incorporate the best practices for today's digital marketing. Today, Nick eagerly shares his experience and knowledge by helping others in cultivating their business.

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