Online reputation management has become one of the key focal points of small to medium sized businesses in Connecticut, around the nation, and internationally. However, when we talk to our clients about how they control their online reputation their typical responses include: Facebook status updates, Twitter updates, and blog posts. While those methods are part of a positive online image, they are not the answer to management of your online reputation. With that said, here is a 4 step guide to effective and efficient online reputation management for 2011.
Step 1: Understand Online Reputation Management
Before you venture into the vast all-inclusive world of online reputation management, it’s important to understand the animal that is your online reputation.
I recently heard, in an industry-wide open forum, that your online reputation is based on the collective group which comprises your sphere of influence. To simplify that rendition, one of participants referred to an online reputation as your own personal round table; while there is no single head of the table, you sit amongst your employees, colleagues, competitors, clientele, family, and everyone else who is involved with your business. The tricky theoretical part: you have just as much control over your online reputation as the person to your left and right.
Now, the reason why I call his statement “theoretical” is because that particular participant didn’t take into consideration the amount of interaction each individual has throughout the incredibly large world of the web. If you had absolutely no interaction in a meeting with everyone involved with your business your reputation will be completely controlled by third parties (a.k.a. not you). However, if you proactively interact and respond to comment and queries your reputation, while still influenced by those individuals, will be primarily managed by you.
In general, the key to effective online reputation management is simple: constant contact, content, and interaction establishes and maintains positive online reputations.
Step 2: Consistent Quality Content
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, blog and social media updates are part of the equation when it comes to your online reputation management. However, they cannot be simple, unplanned, erratic, irrelevant, or grammatically incorrect updates.
Everything that you publish to the public must be:
- Well Thought Out — Plan what you are going to post to your blog, your site (general content), articles, press releases, tweets, Facebook status updates, etc. The more you plan and execute the more time you save on production and follow-through. You will also give yourself the opportunity to appear organized and elicit a positive public profile.
- Created with a Purpose — Similar to having your publications well through out, creating your content with a purpose will save you from rambling on about irrelevant topics and/or tangents. Get to the point as quickly as possible, elaborate on that point to establish your argument, and close the argument with a call to action. Your reputation will be positively influenced by your ability to pinpoint your position.
- Beneficial to Your Audience — Do you enjoy doing things that are mundane and have no benefit to you? Of course not! If you take the time to read through an article or blog post, you want to come out with something that will make you better in some way. Your readers and followers are the exact same way, and you will only help your online reputation if you create content that is beneficial to your audience.
- Grammatically Correct & Well Written — The be all and the end all of your publications stems from grammatical errors and poor writing. You can have the most novel, beneficial, and well thought out publication, but if you either have grammatical errors in your content or your content does not read well, your online reputation will take a plunge. To save yourself from tarnishing your online reputation, take the time to edit the content frequently and with the purpose of bettering it for your audience. With the publication of well written updates, you will have beaten nearly 80% of your competition because (I can almost guarantee) that they do not do this!
Step 3: Social Media Interactions
While blog and social media updates are phenomenal ways to start the talk of an online reputation, there needs to also be interaction throughout your online activities.
No matter the comments or feedback you receive, you need to have enough professionalism to respond to your audience.
Let’s take a minute to fulfill one of my childhood dreams of playing professional football. In fact, let’s pretend that I am the quarterback for your favorite pro team. I go out and throw an interception, but while you judge me initially for that, my reputation will be better defined by the way I respond to that mishap. Now, if I come back out to the field and score on the very next play, (almost) all will be forgiven, and my reputation becomes more positive. However, if I fail to deliver on the next offensive outing and subsequently fail to respond to dilemmas, my image goes down with the team.
Your online reputation management is comparable to that example because your reputation is influenced not only by your initial publication but how you respond to negative and positive criticism. Do you take the time to knowledgeably respond and counteract any bad information, or do you make the situation worse by failing to produce a quality rebuttal? The game lies on your shoulders…
Step 4: Promotion of Previously Published Quality Content
“Quality content is key.”
You will hear those words resound from the lips of almost every search engine optimization expert. But, it is much more than just search engine optimization as the words you create for publication act as a public relations tool to positively influence your online reputation.
In other words, while you are creating unique quality content for publication, remember to rebroadcast the information that you have already published to your audience. This will consistently remind your followers that you have established works which have already helped your audience that still can help (your ideas are not obsolete). With that said, you can do this through:
- Internal Links — As you make mention of certain points or verbiage throughout your publication(s), you have the ability to link (via anchor text) to an existing publication whether it be a Facebook update, tweet, online article, blog post, or any other social media update/group that you have created. By you sharing further information, you are enhancing the readers’ experience and therefore positively influencing your online reputation.
- Re-Publications — There is absolutely nothing to this, and it is completely underrated with regard to its efficacy level. If you take the time to sift through your top posts, also take the time to re-broadcast those posts to your audience through all of your social media outlets. If they liked the content once before, they will most likely re-read the information and solidify any lingering questions. The readers may also take the time to respond or comment if they haven’t already which gives you the opportunity to interact and improve your online reputation.
- Other Forms — Your options for bringing previous content back into the limelight are almost endless. From newsletters to social network forum posts, online newspaper article comments to guest blogging on another site, you have the control to positively manager your online reputation. Again, the possibilities are endless so be creative and commit to republishing the quality information in a well-organized public relations campaign!
In summary, ORM (online reputation management) has been a hot button subject for a number of our clients, and it is something that all businesses need to investigate for 2011. However, make sure you understand what ORM is, publish quality original content that is beneficial to your audience, interact with your online social networks, and rebroadcast the top quality updates that you have created through a well-planned public relations (marketing) campaign. Follow those simple steps and your will be well on your way to managing a better online reputation for 2011.
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