Although it’s a proven tool throughout the marketing, SEO, and reputation management industry, there are still a number of old-school CEOs and business owners who hear the word “social media” and think about their grandchildren using Facebook and doing the Twitter. The truth is, over the past few years social media has grown into an online marketing juggernaut. There are ever people calling themselves “social media marketers” as a full time job. There are even entire companies dedicated to just optimizing Facebook marketing for clients.
So it should be no surprise to anyone who knows what they are talking about that social media is not only an effective tool for standard marketing but also for online reputation management. In fact, earlier this year, Branded3 conducted a study to find out if social factors had a direct impact on search engine rank. They found that websites that were highly shared on Twitter tended to rank higher in the search results than websites that did not. Specifically, they found the first 50 tweets of a URL had a significant impact in moving a site up in the ranks and that after 7,500 tweets a website was virtually guaranteed a spot in the top 5 search results.
Further, a strong social media presence for your brand is highly correlated with positive online reviews and those reviews are one of the most important factors in local search ranks. For example, if you have a seafood restaurant in Bend, Oregon, and you have a strong social media presence, positive reviews are more likely to appear when customers search for “seafood restaurants in Bend, Oregon.”
There are a number of other studies that link a strong social media strategy to high rank, but the underlying question will always be the same: how can you use social media to fix your online reputation? Keep in mind that just doing a little social media won’t solve all your problems. But it can definitely help.
One of the most basic tactics you can execute is to establish a “Triangle of Trust” online. That is, make sure you have a Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profile set up for your company and make sure that each account links to your website.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the most trusted social media platforms on the web, and as such, the major search engines pay attention to them and pull data from them in order to determine page rank.
Simply establishing a triangle of trust helps you fight a negative online reputation three ways:
1) It will increase your rank
As has already been established, keeping and maintaining a strong social presence has a positive impact on rank. So if you’re main site is being out-ranked by negative or “scam” sites, creating the triangle can help you get back on top again.
2) It will take up space in the ranks
One of the best ways to fight a bad online reputation is simply to fill up the first page of results with positive links or links to mentions of your name elsewhere on the web—like social profiles. In fact, if you search for most large companies today, you’ll generally see their main site, followed by a number of social profiles. These profile links take up space in the results, pushing anything negative to the second page—crisis averted.
3) It will improve your online reviews
Just because you establish social profiles doesn’t mean your online reviews will improve overnight. You have to use your social profiles to reach out to customers and use it as a customer service tool as well as a publishing tool. Pay attention to mentions of your name in social media and respond to people who mention you—both good and bad. If you can solve a customer service problem though social media, instead of waiting till they write a negative review of your service, you’ve just dodged a bullet. In fact, if you can successfully communicate with your customers through social media, you may have turned that negative review into a positive one.
When it comes down to it, communicating with your customers is the basis of building a positive reputation—online or off. So, if you can establish a triangle of trust, link to your main site, and then use those profiles to create positive communication with your customers, there is no reason that your bad reputation won’t turn itself around very soon.