Many sources create a brand’s reputation.
Getting positive feedback, responding to trends, being aware of competitors, gleaning audience insights, and establishing relationships with customers each play a role in building a good reputation for a company.
Gathering and analyzing this information is essential for growing and managing your online reputation, but these tasks involve a lot of data.
Social listening as a powerful marketing tool is a major trend in 2020 and platforms for monitoring social networks are indispensable for managing the many tasks involved with keeping your online reputation healthy.
In this article, I will explore an important component of brand management: the online reputation audit.
A reputation audit is often the starting point for work on the company’s online reputation, whether building it up and increasing reach, changing a brand’s position in the market, or addressing negative sentiment among customers.
What is a reputation audit and why is it important?
A brand reputation audit analyzes mentions of a brand, company name, trend, event, or other specific topics. A social monitoring system like Brandwatch or YouScan collects the data into one place so it can be examined. A thorough audit provides insights for launching a new business or product as well as the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
With a reputation audit, you can:
- Analyze customer relationships with the company. You will identify positive and negative comments about the brand in general as well as sentiment toward various specific criteria such as price, quality, and services. This helps you work out your customer’s pain points.
- Identify problems with business processes. For example, customers refusing to order again because a delivery person was rude.
- Identify new audience groups.
- Compare your brand to the competition.
- Analyze market leaders and outline development points for the brand.
- Identify user insights in order to improve products and prepare a content strategy or change brand positioning.
- Conduct market analysis before launching a new product and perhaps even predict emerging trends.
Your reputation audit can be an independent study or a supplement to offline analytics. As monitoring platforms become more sophisticated, companies have more opportunities to use audit data instead of conducting surveys. Audits are more reliable than surveys and focus groups because they use unfiltered opinions from a brand’s audience.
The reputation audit and brand monitoring
First, a little terminology:
What is brand monitoring?
Brand monitoring lets you keep an eye on your brand’s reputation and stay on top of user comments that need a response by scanning mentions on a daily basis.
For example, a customer is upset about a delivery delay. He or she writes a disappointing comment on Twitter. The brand, tracking brand mentions, sees this comment within 30 minutes. It answers with an apology, explains the situation, and offers a discount on the next order.
The company has now exceeded his or her expectations and left them with a positive experience instead of a negative one, causing them to recommend your brand to their friends.
What is a reputation audit?
A reputation audit examines brand mentions over a specific period.
For example, the company changes its positioning in the market and wants to know how customers react. The audit shows a small number of brand-related discussions. The brand’s official social media accounts are active, revealing that there are not enough brand mentions outside the brand communities. In addition, the audit shows that the brand is mentioned less on weekends. Insights like this can shape future
advertising campaigns to have the greatest impact.
The audit also answers the specific question it was conducted to address: How do the company’s customers feel about its change in positioning?
Say, for example, users perceived rebranding negatively. Comments reflect that the audience still thinks product quality is low and some even believe the changes represent a failure of the business to be profitable.
These problems may have been avoided if the brand had examined user sentiment before changing its design and positioning.
Audits are useful for more than goods and services. Specific events can also benefit from sentiment analysis, such as a case in Topface Media’s practice where we monitored a film.
Between the release of the first and second parts of the film, we monitored the audience’s attitude toward the film’s characters and the actors involved. We examined audience sentiment as well as the number of mentions for individual characters and actors.
Through this analysis, Topface Media determined the audience’s favorites, the main trends in the social media conversation, and the reaction of users to the trailer. We also compiled “viewer personas.”
This information can later be used for advertising, posters, and more.
What does a reputation audit look like?
The first step in the audit is to set up a monitoring system. Your system must account for the complexity of the brand name: how unique the name is, how many words it contains, and what words should be excluded. The accuracy of your audit depends on setting up this system correctly.
An audit may analyze:
- Dynamics, seasonality, and peaks of the total number of mentions
- Dynamics of and range in the sentiment of mentions
- Brand mention sources, identifying the most promising or impactful sources
- The most important criteria for evaluating a product or service, according to a brand’s audience (such as taste, color, price, quality, delivery, or other factors)
- Audience discussions, identifying “negative personas” and potential brand advocates
- Audience groups, identifying groups that are negative or loyal to certain aspects of a product or service (such as taste, color, price, quality, and delivery). For example, housewives 25–45 years old from large cities are interested in speed of delivery: the audit shows that this is the biggest category of objections. However, they are not price sensitive: the audit found only a few comments on this topic with mostly neutral sentiment.
In addition, the audit should contain a guide to action: the final conclusions and recommendations on the content strategy, setup of an advertising campaign, and other actionable insights determined by the purpose of the study.
Should you conduct your reputation audit in-house or hire a contractor?
Why not just conduct an audit yourself?
While today’s monitoring software is more sophisticated and functional than ever, most brands will have better results in trusting a trained professional to interpret the data. Putting analytics in the hands of specialists can save you a lot of time and money.
An audit first requires data collection. The machines behind monitoring platforms cannot always identify a comment’s true sentiment. They misread sarcasm or fail to determine whether the user has a positive or negative attitude towards the brand.
For this reason, manual tonality adjustment is required. This is especially important for brands and products that have complex technical characteristics, such as car parts, IT products, and software. It’s time-consuming, but an expert has training and techniques to speed up processing the sentiment of a large amount of data.
The next step of the audit is analyzing and formatting data. Agencies that work with monitoring systems on an ongoing basis receive special prices, enabling them to conduct research on a specific topic at a much lower cost.
These lower subscription costs and agency efficiencies can mean outsourcing your reputation audit to professionals is actually much less expensive than subscribing to a monitoring system yourself and conducting your research in-house. Plus, it saves you time and frees you up to focus on other areas of your business.
In any case, conducting an audit will help you stay abreast of the current reputation of your brand. Monitoring your brand’s reputation gives you a competitive advantage, helps understand your audience, and gives you better tools to track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.