How-to Guide

Top Brand Reputation Challenges in your Online Community

Although reputation is typically the single most important factor that allows a brand to grow value and inspire loyalty, it is often forgotten.

What makes your brand successful is not a pretty logo or a catchy tagline, it’s what a brand says about itself and even more importantly, what others say about it. More and more, online conversations and social experiences shape brand reputation. It only takes a few bad experiences by influential users to damage a brand's reputation.

Managing brand reputation in your online community can have its challenges, but luckily we have the solutions:

Reputation is one of the most forgotten or neglected attributes of a brand.

In your online community, building your brand reputation starts and ends with building trust. Consumers must have trust in the hosting brand to make the community successful, but even more important is the trust that consumers have in their peers. If consumers have confidence that their peers know what they are talking about, they are more likely to follow their advice, whether that’s advice about which product to purchase or how to fix a problem with a product they’ve encountered. It’s up to brands to foster both brand-to-consumer trust and peer-to-peer trust by being the best stewards of authenticity and credibility in their online communities.

Challenge: I’m afraid that some of my members may be posting spam. How do I sort out truth from fiction?

In the age of fake news, internet trolls and bots, it has become more and more difficult for both consumers and brands to determine who is “real” online. One spam post or false review in your online community has the potential to create a serious domino effect. After all, if a review can’t be trusted, what’s the point of having reviews in the first place? Even more, what kind of negative halo effect does it create for the vast majority of honest, genuine and trustworthy reviews that fill our online communities? So how can a brand overcome this challenge?

  • Solution: Rely on reputation management systems like Lithium’s Profile Plus powered with Klout that can help determine who is real online and more importantly, identify what real expertise they have in the areas where they are providing reviews, product information or social commentary.

Challenge: How do I incentivize my key influencers if I’m not paying them?

A small minority of superfans makes the difference between success and failure in online communities. In fact, even an online community with a million members depends upon a relatively small number of people, typically around 1%, to generate much of the excitement and interest. So how do you motivate these influential community members to contribute?

  • Solution: Reward and empower users with short-term rewards and additional permissions or privileges in the community through gamification. If your community platform permits, you may want to grant superfan privileges that other users don't have like access to a private forum. You might also consider things like the ability to upload attachments or videos, to author blog posts or to edit or delete messages. Learn more about the science and psychology behind gamification and why it is one of the most proven ways to keep your members coming back for more.

Challenge: My online community members are talking negatively about my brand–isn’t that bad for my reputation? Should I respond and set them straight?

What makes online communities unique is the conversation, engagement and energy from its members. They are a part of a community because they want to be a part of it, not because they have to. This means there’s a sort of emotional involvement or attachment that comes along with it. Unfortunately, there are always those times when emotions among the community run high, and you are inadvertently put in a sticky situation. How do you deal with it?

  • Solution: Sit on your hands and actively listen. Your members may want to vent about whatever is on their mind. They may want to share their somewhat unfiltered opinions about your brand. They may want you to solve an issue for them–immediately. Just listen. Let them vent, listen carefully, acknowledge their concerns and then find the easiest way to make everything good again. By listening closely, you can glean incredible insights and ideas from them that could make your community better and stronger in the long-run. Alternatively, you may find that other community members will jump into the conversation to answer questions and be a brand advocate for you. Regardless, remember to stay focused on your end goal which is to create the best possible community experience for your members at all times. Be open to taking any challenge that comes your way and turning it into an opportunity to innovate.

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