Brand reputation on social media: Why eCommerce businesses should care
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Brand reputation on social media: Why eCommerce businesses should care

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We at Adwisely know how much effort you put into building a unique brand for your eCommerce business – and we are always happy to share the info on how to make it even stronger and get more orders as a result. In this article, Elena Teselko from YouScan tells about the role of brand reputation and ways in which it can be managed.

“Repetition makes reputation, and reputation makes customers.” This statement by Elizabeth Arden is the clearest explanation of why a company’s reputation is vital and how to establish one.

To begin with, brand reputation is a perception that people have towards a brand or a company, including customers, partners, employees, or any other stakeholders. The intent to buy or advocate for a brand is also a part of reputation. 

Meanwhile, the overall perception is shaped by multiple elements, from the company’s name and logo to its owner or the philanthropic projects supported by the brand. At the same time, it’s a mistake to believe that only well-known brands should be concerned with their reputation. Brand awareness can increase the favorable impression, but the stakes rise and can be disastrous for business if a crisis occurs. For small and mid-sized businesses, though, reputation can serve as a trigger for growth. 

Why brand reputation matters

A positive brand reputation is always followed by customer loyalty and trust, which turn into sales. According to statistics, 81% of consumers named trust the key reason to purchase from a brand. At the same time, customers expect the brand to be consistent so that the image they have of it matches the one presented by the business, which, in the end, leads to a 33 percent increase in revenue.

Imagine a brand that is known for its outstanding quality and creative approach. In such a case, when a new innovative product is introduced to the market, this perception will also spread on this item, and people won’t be afraid to try something new, as they will expect the same quality and positive experience. 

Connection between social media and brand perception 

Today, social media is one of the most influential sources of information for most people worldwide. With the higher social networks penetration into their lives, people are getting used to consuming a variety of content there. In fact, many people today rely on social media data more than they do on television, radio, or print newspapers. In the United States alone, nearly one-third of the population obtains their news from Facebook.

Apart from interacting with social media content, the online audience creates it. People talk about their day-to-day life, professional achievements, personal opinions, and so on. Frequently such posts feature brands and the authors’ feedback on them. The manner in which a product is mentioned influences the reader’s opinion of it, especially when a close person or an influencer is describing their own experience.

Brand reputation management on social media

As social media has become such an integral part of our lives, online reviews and feedback provided here are just as relevant as those placed on the website, dedicated platforms, or told during a personal talk. 

But, with so many social media networks on the market, how can a company track and analyze its reputation? The answer is the brand reputation tool. Such platforms, as YouScan, allow brands to monitor online discussions featuring their products or services and analyze them to manage brand reputation. 

Next, we’ll figure out how to leverage social media data to build and improve online reputation.

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3 main steps of brand reputation management

Building, maintaining, and in some cases, restoring reputation is a never-ending process that consists of multiple actions. Still, we decided to pick the universal strategies that can be expanded upon request. 

1. Maintain brand consistency 

One of the most critical aspects of the audience’s opinion about a brand is consistency. People are overloaded with information, and with thousands of brands in each niche, they require an organized and linear concept of your company and its products to remember and recall them at the time of purchase.

So, what is the consistency, you may wonder? It is the manner in which a brand communicates both online and offline, as well as how its messages match its promise and image. If you have omnichannel contact with your audience, brand consistency is crucial. For example, you must verify that the website content, online ads, social media posts, and in-store experience all adhere to the same approach.

How can this be ensured? Create guidelines for texts, design, customer service, and other touchpoints with consumers. 

For example, Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear brand is well-known for its activism in tackling climate change. The brand’s position is regularly communicated through social media, its website, and other platforms. Aside from commitments, Patagonia takes measures such as donating 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, providing a guarantee on each piece, allowing consumers to repair and trade used products, etc. Overall, this contributes to the brand image and reputation of the environmentally-conscious corporation with a strong sense of social responsibility.

Word cloud from YouScan – social media intelligence tool.
It displays the most popular words, hashtags, and emojis in the monitored topic.

And here’s a screenshot of one of the most recent brands’ Facebook ads, which promotes a fundraising campaign to protect water ecosystems.

2. Track social media discussions 

Companies can also use social listening to track and analyze social media posts that include their brand name, logo, products, or services. However, the primary value of social intelligence is not in data collection, but in analysis. YouScan, for example, provides marketers with access to brand mentions on networks such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and others, which simplifies brand reputation monitoring. Aside from rich data collecting, the platform offers marketers insightful analytics, such as sentiment, aspects, visual insights, and trends.

In terms of reputation, sentiment and aspects are two fundamental factors to consider. When positive or neutral sentiment prevails in online discussions, the audience has a favorable impression of the brand and is more likely to purchase from it or recommend it to others. On the other hand, when negative feedback becomes dominant, immediate action should be taken to prevent a crisis.

Meanwhile, aspects (products’ features) are closely aligned with the core associations with the brand. Companies should monitor this element over time to spot any shifts in brand perception. For example, the Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo prioritizes simplicity and comfort over trends, and it is also regarded as successfully balancing the price-quality ratio. Below, we can see the sentiment-based aspect analysis of Uniqlo’s social media mentions. Fortunately, design, price, quality, and usability all receive favorable comments from customers. 

Still, the brand has issues with customer service, which can threaten its reputation, requiring close management attention. Many customers have complained about the company’s troublesome return policy and the unproductive employee communication. Perhaps the brand should redesign the return procedure to make it easier for clients and retain them rather than scare them away.

3. React according to the situation

Fortunately or not, reputation is fluid and dynamic. The bad news is that a crisis can damage a brand’s image, but the good news is that a bad brand reputation can almost always be restored. It only takes some time and effort.

In recent years, for example, the market has been severely disrupted. Because of long-term consumerism, the industry had evolved to the point where new collections had to be launched far too frequently to remain relevant. At the same time, this massive expansion has led to a slew of issues, including climate change, polluted environments, and labor inequities in emerging economies. All of this has resulted in a new sustainability trend. Unfortunately, large fashion retailers cannot adapt their operations quickly, even if they have already planned to shift to a more responsible business.

H&M, a fast-fashion brand known for its enormous manufacturing facilities, was among those affected by the shift in audience expectations. The brand had to take steps to adjust its processes to a new reality and requirements, as well as to save its reputation. Despite repeated criticism from environmental organizations and accusations of greenwashing (which was also proven), the company is attempting to shift toward more ethical production.

Fortunately, many customers embrace the positive improvements and support the company on its path to sustainability.

Conclusion

Reputation is fragile, as it can quickly break and requires a lot of time and effort to be restored. Meanwhile, as social media has grown in power and influence over consumers, marketers should pay more attention to this channel because even one negative post from an influencer can hurt a brand’s reputation. As a result, it is critical to regularly use social media monitoring platforms in order to keep pace with the audience’s perception and avoid any unpleasant scenarios. 

About the author: Elena Teselko is a writer who is passionate about marketing communications. She’s been creating communication projects for brands and IT companies for the last five years. Now she enjoys promoting Ukrainian-based tech startups to raise their visibility on the global market.