4 Principles for Clearly Defining Your Reputation Management Goals

It’s been said that you can define the difference between management and leadership with a mountain climbing expedition. The leader will sit the group down and talk about getting to the top of the mountain, how glorious it will be, and how we all have to work together to get there.

On the other hand, the manager will coordinate the ropes, carabineers, and make sure everyone is wearing the right equipment for the trip.

Both these jobs are essential for making it to the top of the mountain successfully, but sometimes, in our reputation management strategy planning, we might be too much of one or the other—focusing too much on what we want to achieve, without much detail as to how we’re going to do it, or focusing so much on the details that the overall goal is never reached.

For that reason, it is important to define your goals clearly before creating your reputation management strategy, so everyone is on the same page and all your efforts are focused toward singular goals. That way, you don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.

If you want your reputation management strategy to succeed, here are four things to keep in mind when setting goals.

1) Keep it Simple

Create a defining statement that clearly summarizes our goals. But don’t make it too complex or include multiple sub points. A great goal statement is simple, direct, and easy to understand. In fact, if it takes you more than one sentence to define your reputation management goal, you probably ought to try again.

For example, “To gain a majority link position in the SERPs though a variety of optimization and linkbuilding activities, including social profiles and business listings, focusing on positive outcomes, to be achieved in the first quarter of 2012,” is not the way to go.

Something better might be: “To achieve 7 of the top 10 results for our branded search term in the next 6 months.” It’s direct, easy to understand, and there is no ambiguity about the goal that needs to be reached.

2) Concrete

In the previous example, the second goal is also more concrete. It focuses on a specific number of results that need to be achieved and sets a specific time frame for when the goal should be achieved. All your reputation management goals should have a concreteness to them that makes them tangible and real. Without a grounding in reality that focuses on specific numbers, timeframes, and outcomes, you run the danger of getting lost, losing sight of your goal, and failing altogether.

 3) Achievable

It can be extremely tempting to set goals that sound great on paper but won’t work in the real world. For example, attempting to get 20 positive articles about your company to rank for a branded search term in 30 days might sound ideal, but it’s probably not achievable.

Although 20 positive links in the SERPs isn’t a bad overall goal, 30 days might be a little quick. And when you don’t achieve it, it can be depressing and disheartening—especially if you worked hard to achieve it. Set smaller goals that you can achieve on your way to your bigger goal. You’ll feel good about your small achievements, and they’ll all build to a bigger goal with a more reasonable time frame.

4) Measurable

Lastly, make sure you set goals that you can measure. If you don’t set measurable goals, you’ll never know if you achieved them or not. For example a goal like, “To improve our company’s online reputation.” Is a commendable, but how do you know when you’ve “improved” your company’s online reputation, when the first 5 results are positive? The first 10? 15? And when are you supposed to complete this goal?

Rather, set goals that you can measure and have deadlines. That way you can stay focused. And when you achieve your goal, you’ll know you’ve accomplished something, and you can move on to the next big milestone.

Any Road Will Take You There

The Cheshire Cat once told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” With a lack of simple, concrete, achievable, and measure goals for your reputation management strategy, you’ll end up wandering down dark paths and dead-end roads instead of glorying in an improved online reputation.

So, as you sit down to create your reputation management strategy, take a look at your goals and see if you know where you’re going before you leave the path and start heading up the mountain.

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