Online reputation management

Listen, Learn, Respond: How to Approach Your Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management has become a crucial component of doing business today.

With the rapid increase of social media commentary and online reviews, it can be difficult to keep visibility on the numerous conversations and maintain an honest, transparent image for your company.

It is easy to become overwhelmed.

Rather than becoming overwhelmed, you should take the time to Listen, Learn, and Respond for the sake of your company.

Here is a quick framework on how to approach your online reputation management.


If you want to take reputation management seriously, you will need to actively listen to what is being said online.

This means monitoring and listening to mass media and social media.

This doesn’t mean you have to sit down and spend your entire morning sifting through every online conversation you can find.

There are tools to help alert you of mentions and topics.

For monitoring mass media, you can use simple tools like Google Alerts.

With Google Alerts you can set up alerts related to a keyword or phrase and Google will send you an email as it happens, once a day, or once a week, every time it finds new content that matches your search.

Best of all, it’s free.

You can also pay for PR software which typically offers media monitoring, alerts, news summaries, analytics, and more.

For social media listening, you can use one of several social listening and tools.

Software like Hootsuite, Brandwatch, Mention, and SproutSocial can all be used to plan and execute your social posts as well as help assist with your social listening.

Mass media monitoring and social media listening can provide you with data and information to move to the next step – Learning.


When you have the data and information from mass media monitoring and social media listening, you then need to analyze it so that it’s useful.

You need to learn something or the work performed in the Listen stage is useless.

• Is there a trend (positive or negative) in comments about one aspect of your business?

• Are there vocal supporters or detractors online?

• Is there increased discussion about your organization on one platform more than another?

All of this information can be useful.

If you notice a negative trend, you can take actions to fix it and then jump into the conversations to notify the users of the update.

If you notice a positive trend, you can publically thank the users and gain some additional exposure to those comments.

You can amplify vocal supporters and keep listening to the detractors, jumping in when they say something inaccurate, or keeping notes and possibly taking action when they provide criticism.

If you notice increased discussion on one platform over another, perhaps you need to put some additional ‘schlitz’ into that platform and get more bang for your buck.


After you have learned something from your monitoring and listening, you need to decide if and when you should engage online.

Deciding when to respond is more of an art than science, and your companies personality will come into play.

As an example, Wendy’s Twitter account can be goofy, fast-paced, and in your face.

It takes a particular kind of social media manager to pull off comedy or snark, and not everyone can pull it off successfully on an organizational account, but it works for them.

You may or may not want to be like Wendy’s.

Figure out your online style so your responses become standardized.

Deciding if and when to respond is also subject to the comments’ platform, visibility, and potential reach.

A company’s response to a negative or critical comment might elevate that comment and give it more exposure on the platform than it otherwise would have received.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen a high-profile account respond to a Twitter comment from a person that has 20 followers.

No one is going to see that comment, relatively speaking.

It’s ok to let some comments go, letting them disappear, buried amongst all the other content on the platform.

When you do decide to respond, your response needs to be deliberate and authentic.

It should be honest, transparent, and timely.

Be honest, not only because it’s the best thing to do as a business but also because everyone will find out if you’re not being honest.

Being transparent makes your company authentic and people are drawn to authentic companies.

And be timely.

Timely in social media means that hour, that morning/afternoon, or maybe that day.

Move Out

Coming up with an online reputation management program is an ongoing, critical component of your communication strategy.

If you ignore it, you may be letting others define and describe your company for you impacting your reputation.

If you ignore it, you may be letting incorrect information spread which can impact your bottom line.

Reputation management doesn’t have to consume you if you’re a small business, but a little prep and a little work on this can go a long way.


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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