The first thing you need to do to manage your reputation is have a plan. Preparing for things as they come will be beneficial rather than reacting impulsively. With a few thoughtful steps you can create a strategy that will help you build your online reputation and take your company to the next level in terms of online branding and consumer engagement. There are three essential building blocks to assembling a successful strategy—consider these elements thoroughly and you’re on your way to an organized and cohesive effort to strengthen your brand.
Outline your goals. How do you want people to see your brand? Choose, build and nurture. Pick the active social network, and then build your profile and your following. Nurture the profile and the interactions and secure profiles on other networks even if you don’t intend to put the focus there quite yet. Keep in mind that personal twitter accounts of employees are not independent of your company, despite disclaiming that in your twitter biography.
Determine what you really want. Are you trying to find brand partners? Make more money? Determine who you are and maintain consistency with your brand’s persona. Be congruent in your online branding. Build relationships with bloggers and journalists with sincere pitches.
Understand your keywords. Monitor all of the terms related to your brand to see what people are really saying. Build your profiles with company name and keyword insertion to help keep the search spiders happy.
Empower your employees and let them know that they can engage and stop a crisis. If someone has a legitimate complaint, let your employees engage and remedy. However, a caveat—don’t encourage the reputation trolls. Don’t talk trash and don’t engage with people who simply decide they do not like you. Rise above it!
Listen to your customers. Whether it’s positive or negative, people like to know you are listening and care about what they have to say. Don’t just wait for the complaining posts, engage them in conversation and nurture the personal relationships with your followers.
As for managing online reviews: find where your customers are leaving reviews—whether it’s Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, or another industry specific review site. Avoid incentives and never, never fake reviews! Not only is in insincere, you can be fined from review sites depending on their individual policies. Negative reviews don’t always have to be acknowledged. Legitimate complaints need to be addressed and work to explain your apologies.
The bare minimum of reputation management would be to listen to what people are saying. This will help you naturally repair problems or reactions and you’ll know how people are viewing your company. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s going on is critical. Okay content is not enough—you need to be creating amazing content. Herd the sharing, don’t let shares get diluted. Create things that people want to read and that they will think others want to read.
Erika Thomas is an SEO copywriter and link building specialist at Tandem Interactive. Thomas also operates fashion blog Blah Blah Blonde and is a freelance writer. Her Twitter handle is @itsmeerikat.
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