News travels fast these days, and it doesn’t take much for a brand’s reputation to take a hit. Any internal or external interaction can make (or break) your organization’s reputation, and a few negative online reviews or posts could turn away customers or candidates for good.
But you don’t need to leave your reputation up to other people’s opinions and judgments. You can curate and maintain a positive brand reputation through business reputation management. Good press or strong business results can help your audience see you in a positive light. But to reap the short- and long-term the rewards of reputation management, you need to be consistent and strategic.
This article will dive deep into what reputation management encompasses and why it’s important. Plus, we’ll walk you through creating a reputation management strategy for your brand and tools to help automate your workflow.

What is reputation management?

Reputation management is the practice of influencing what people think of your business or brand. A brand’s reputation has three core elements: how others see it, how the company operates and performs and what the brand communicates about itself.

Cultivating a strong brand reputation involves monitoring what people think and say about the organization, responding to misleading information, malicious allegations and negative reviews, and generally looking out for and acting on opportunities to boost the organization’s reputation.

One person or department rarely owns business reputation management. It involves many business functions like marketing, communications, customer experience and sales.

Take a brand like Patagonia, for example. Recently ranked as the company with the best reputation in the United States, people see Patagonia this way because of its commitment to fighting climate change. They’re also good at getting attention for their initiatives, which boosts their reputation, such as founder Yvon Chouinard’s recent decision to give away the company's shares to "Mother Earth."

Why is business reputation management important?

Trust is a core ingredient of every purchasing decision. And this trust is dependent on your brand’s reputation. But it’s more than making sure your people feel good about you. Here are a few reasons why reputation management is essential.

Maintaining a professional image

From poorly-timed posts to product fails, every brand makes mistakes. How your employees conduct themselves online and in person also impacts your brand’s reputation. A slight misstep can become a severe crisis if you don’t address it in the right way or at the right time.

For example, if your employees are sharing derogatory content online or responding to reviews in an inflammatory manner, this will reflect poorly on your company.

Creating a company social media policy and guidelines for social media customer service help protect your brand’s reputation while avoiding potential PR disasters.

Boosting brand visibility 

Have you heard the saying, ‘All press is good press’? While this idea might not be entirely accurate, it is still advantageous to have many people positively talking about you online.

For example, after a viral TikTok video from a customer, skincare brand Bubble saw its Walmart store sales double and sold 70% of its entire stock portfolio at Ulta Beauty stores. Plus, reviews also help your business rank higher in search engine results.

Building trust and credibility

Did you know that 76% of consumers “regularly” read online reviews when browsing for local businesses? And 46% of consumers feel that online business reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends or family.

These stats from BrightLocal’s study illustrate the power of reputation management. Customers view brands with more positive reviews and recommendations as trustworthy and credible.

A screenshot of Sprout customer reviews on the G2 Crowd platform

Understanding customer preferences

Do you know what people like and dislike about your brand, product or service? Tuning into the conversation around your brand will uncover valuable insights. For example, you know what pain points to focus on if you keep getting the same complaints. You can also use customer feedback to double down on what’s working or develop new offerings.

Dispelling rumors and misleading information

Anybody can post anything they want online, so misinformation spreads fast. Brands must be even more diligent in responding to misleading claims. Fortunately, AI tools automate tracking negative comments via keywords and hashtags in real time, so you can respond promptly and defuse issues before they implode.

Increasing revenue

According to McKinsey research, products with three- or four-star ratings generated three times more sales than those with one-star ratings. Customers value service over price, so providing top-notch service alongside a strong reputation enable brands to charge competitively and increase revenue using techniques like dynamic pricing.

Establishing thought leadership 

Your brand’s reputation isn’t solely defined by what others say about you. It’s also determined by what your organization shares about itself.

For example, with their Real Beauty campaigns, Dove has solidified itself as a body-positive brand. After research uncovered women's negative perceptions of beauty, they sought to change the conversation about beauty and build their brand with body-positive and inclusive marketing.

Decades later, Dove is a recognized thought leader in body confidence through initiatives like their Self-Esteem Project.

Attracting top talent

The best candidates want to work for the best employers. Simple as that. Compensation is important and always will be. But a strong brand reputation will give you an edge over your competition and attract top talent to your company.

According to Glassdoor, 50% of work candidates say they wouldn’t work at a company with a bad reputation—even if they got a pay raise.

6 essential aspects of reputation management

Reputation management isn't just about taking charge of the story around your brand. It's about tuning in to what your people, customers and audience are saying. You need to take their feedback to heart and respond in a way that builds trust while showcasing your values.

Here are six critical aspects of reputation management to consider.

Online review management 

From Google to Yelp to Glassdoor, there are plenty of ways for people to review and rate their experience. Online review management involves:

  • Monitoring these review networks
  • Responding to reviews
  • Identifying trends and pulling out insights that help you improve your service

Social listening and qualitative research

Social listening will help you better understand what people think of your brand. Gain insight into what people say about you and your industry on social media.

You can also conduct qualitative research like surveys, interviews and focus groups. Directly ask your customers and employees how they feel about your company, and use this intel to deliver even better experiences.

Customer experience

Providing a great customer experience is crucial to building your brand’s reputation—and neglecting it can come with serious consequences.

Tweet from a happy Sprout customer

According to The Sprout Social Indextm2022, when companies take too long to respond to customer issues, 36% of consumers say they’ll share that negative experience with friends and family, 31% won’t complete their purchase and 30% will buy from a competitor.

Crisis communication

You don’t have to be a huge brand to get caught up in a viral scandal that could damage your company’s reputation. A crisis communication management strategy will prepare you for the unexpected with tools and tactics to act fast and recover quickly.

Competitive analysis

Do you know how your brand’s perception stacks up against your competitors? Conduct a competitive analysis to set benchmarks for your brand reputation strategy. See what you need to do to get (or stay) ahead and gain insight into how people feel about your industry.

For example, with Sprout’s competitive reports and listening tools, you will see side-by-side competitor comparisons of key reputational performance metrics like share of voice, engagement, sentiment and impressions.

Sprout Social Listening dashboard showing competitor overview report on key metrics of your Facebook profiles

Brand advocacy 

Let your customers and employees sing your praises for you. To harness the power of brand advocacy, you need to identify, engage and reward your advocates. Build a relationship with them and encourage them to keep spreading the word about you.

For example, collect and reward UGC that reviews your product or service, or create an employee advocacy program that provides content for your people to share, making it easier for them to spread the word while maintaining some control over messaging.

Tweet from a Sprout employee sharing Sprout's new partnership with UNCF

How to create a reputation management strategy

An effective reputation management strategy must be reactive and proactive. You must respond quickly to feedback and mentions to cultivate your reputation over time and avoid public missteps. Here is a breakdown of creating an effective strategy using a reputation management tool.

1. Choose your online reputation management tool

From review networks to social media to press mentions, there are a lot of channels for people to share their opinions about your brand. But monitoring and responding to everything people say manually is time-consuming.

A reputation management tool, like Sprout, automates the process by providing timely insights and easy-to-use communication features so you can quickly execute initiatives, respond to feedback and focus more on your overall strategy.

2. Gather your data from external sources

There are three sources of information that you should use for monitoring your reputation at all times:

  • Listening data (i.e., what people are saying about you online and on social media)
  • Competitor data (i.e., insights on how your competitors are performing online and their brand perception)
  • Reviews data (e.g., Google, Yelp and Glassdoor reviews)

Sprout Social collects data from all these sources so you can track, analyze and optimize in one convenient workspace.

Sprout Social dashboard showing reviews from various networks like

3. Gather customer data

Inbound social messages, customer and employee feedback and help center data are also valuable sources of information that influence your reputation.

Sprout integrates with your help desk and CRM platforms like Zendesk and HubSpot to see all this data in one dashboard for a holistic view of the end-to-end customer experience.

Screenshot of Sprout’s dashboard showing messages from different customers from where you can gather emerging trends

4. Review your brand experience

Once you’ve collected your internal and external data, you must analyze it. Here are some crucial KPIs to track to see where you’re at and set future goals.

  • Feedback volume: How many reviews/mentions/comments are you getting? Have you seen any spikes or dips?
  • Sentiment analysis: What’s the general tone of reactions your brand is getting? Does it skew more positive or negative?
  • Share of voice: How many conversations do you control in your market?
  • Feedback trends/themes: What content do people share about your brand? What are some common customer/employee questions, comments and complaints?

Pulling all this data manually is a chore, but Sprout's reports make this step a breeze with presentation-ready insights.

5. Be ready to respond to online reviews and social comments

Expectations for social customer service are at an all-time high. According to The Sprout Social Index™ 2022, 22% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first one or two hours of reaching out on social media. 19% expect a response in the first 24 hours.

To keep up the pace, you need an online reviews tool for managing processes and protocols that empower your team to deliver timely and brand-aligned responses to feedback. For example, you can use Sprout’s Message Tagging to track customer issues and delegate responses, and save response templates for frequently asked questions.

6. Close the loop

Responding to all customer and employee feedback should be a given. But it’s not a simple checkbox activity. Your customers don’t just want to feel acknowledged. You need to affirm that you’re using their feedback to understand, refine and improve their experience with your brand.

For example, let’s say you run a retail company. A customer leaves a Google review saying they received the wrong color t-shirt. With Sprout, your social team can respond to their review, then tag your customer service department to send them the correct product and give them a coupon for their trouble. They could also share this experience with your operations team to look into what happened and find ways to prevent it from occurring again.

As a result, you’re closing the loop with your customer by acknowledging their feedback, acting on it and taking steps to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

7. Be proactive

Social media’s ‘always-on’ nature means reputational threats can occur at any time. But it’s draining for your social and marketing teams to constantly check their inboxes and dashboards.

With Sprout’s Spike Alerts, your teams get notified whenever there is an influx of incoming messages or brand or keyword mentions, so they have a near real-time track of negative comments or feedback.

Screenshot of Sprout’s Smart Inbox showing a spike alert

That way, they can quickly acknowledge and handle the situation before it gets out of control. You can also use Saved Replies and Automated Chatbots to deliver quick, on-brand responses—even when your team’s offline.

8. Actively promote the positive aspects of your brand

If people publicly profess their love for your brand, find ways to amplify it and use it in your social media, website and other marketing efforts. Plus, while social proof and user-generated content are great for building trust, you don’t have to wait for others to talk about you. Also use content marketing, social media and PR to highlight the positive aspects of your brand.

Sprout promoting it's win on being named Fortune's "Best Places To Work" in Chicago.

9. Ask for positive reviews

Want to get more positive reviews from your customers? Start by asking them directly, but the more you can systemize and automate the process, the better. For example, use automation features like Saved Replies and Bot Builder to send happy customers a link to your Google My Business page.

10. Forecast potential trends

Follow the news and be aware of current events and industry breakthroughs. Stay on top of what’s happening with social listening to identify positive brand associations through PR and storytelling.

For example, after the French Open banned the catsuit tennis star Serena Williams wore in May 2018, Nike launched their “Voice of Belief” campaign, in which she starred and tweeted, “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.”

While the ad would probably have performed well on its own, the timing of events gave it an extra boost on social and helped solidify Nike’s reputation as an ally and vocal supporter of women in sports.

Top business reputation management software in the market

A lot goes into business reputation management. But the right reputation management tool will save time and effort by automating critical tasks. Here are our top picks:

Sprout Social

Sprout is essentially a one-stop shop for reputation management. Our sentiment analysis, social listening and review management features will help you assess and maintain the health of your reputation. We also make it easy to close the loop with your customers with workflows powered by AI and automation to help your team work smarter, unlock creativity and get even more ROI from social.

From our chatbots and automated routing to AI-enhanced agent replies and tagging, Sprout enables teams accelerate their strategies and focus on creating human connections. Our platform is best suited for brands already invested in their social presence and needing help managing social on a larger scale.

Screenshot of Sprout’s Listening performance showing net sentiment trends and scores


Qualitrics is a feedback collection platform that helps brands collect and organize customer, employee and market data. It has over 100 question types and ready-to-use templates and can distribute surveys via mobile devices, in-app, web, chatbots and other methods. It also has built-in predictive intelligence and statistical analysis features so users can uncover trends and themes.

Qualitrics is primarily a qualitative research tool for surveying specific audiences, as it lacks social listening, review management, competitive analysis and social media management features. It’s best suited for brands seeking to conduct market research for specific marketing, branding, customer and product questions.


Yext helps businesses manage their online footprints. It’s most well-known for its listings management features, allowing users to automatically update their information across major online directories and search engines. It also offers some review management and competitive analysis features such as a centralized review dashboard, personalized responses, review requests and competitor average rating tracking.

However, without social media management features, Yext can’t monitor, respond and share brand stories through social media. Yext is best suited for brick and mortar businesses that regularly change locations or are rapidly expanding in multiple areas.


Podium helps local businesses handle all their communication in one place. It offers web chat, text campaigns, messaging and calling features. It also provides a range of payment options that customers can access via text for more convenience.

It’s a solid tool for customer service and communication, and handling reviews and requests coming through those channels since it doesn't have social media management functionality or access to social analytics.


Birdeye helps businesses send automatic review requests, respond to customer reviews, distribute surveys, fix listings across the Internet and connect with customers via web chat and text message. It also has AI-powered analysis functionality to extract actionable and measurable insights and sentiment trends from text data.

It’s best suited for businesses that are starting to build their social media presence since it doesn’t have in-depth social media analytics and reporting.

Protect your brand’s reputation

Reputation management is a long game. It’s all about building trust with your audience over time. Everyone makes mistakes, and even the best brands get some not-so-great reviews sometimes. But a strong reputation management strategy will help you weather any storms that come your way and position your brand in the best possible light.

Ready to take control of your brand's image? Experience our full range of reputation management features with a free 30-day trial.