Rebuilding Wall Street’s Reputation: 7 Key Factors to Focus On

With the national economy taking its time to recover and plenty of recent financial scandals, Wall Street’s reputation has tanked. If Wall Street, banks, and other financial institutions want to rebuild a solid reputation, they’ll need to focus on the 7 distinct perceptions consumers have about them. By addressing each of these areas, Wall Street bankers and stockbrokers can tackle the problem of a poor reputation from several angles.

The 7 key factors Wall Street must address to rebuild reputation are:

  • citizenship

  • financial performance

  • governance

  • innovation

  • leadership

  • products and services

  • workplace environment

Citizenship

Consumers expect companies they do business with and those who hold a lot of power to show good corporate citizenship and social responsibility. Citizenship in this sense is the idea that businesses like those on Wall Street must be actively compliant with the law, monitor and be accountable for their own actions, and have a positive impact on the environment, employees, customers, stakeholders, and the public at large.

Financial Performance

No one wants to buy from, work for, or invest in a company that isn’t financially stable and making a steady profit. Scandals, embezzlement, debt, gambling, poor investments, sour mergers or acquisitions, and other cash-flow problems all reflect a negative financial performance.

Governance

How a company is run can have a big impact on the company’s reputation. Consumers expect a company to be run efficiently, fairly, and responsibly, with strong values and appropriate policies.

Implementing a better system to punish employees involved in scandals and reward those who live up to the company’s values and mission would go a long way to rebuilding Wall Street’s reputation. So would making processes more efficient, policies more fair, and values and mission statements more in line with the other 6 factors.

Innovation

The most successful companies–which, coincidentally, usually have good reputations–evolve and adapt. They are not afraid to update old products and policies, create new ones to match the times, and otherwise innovate in any way they can to perform better and please stakeholders.

Wall Street has stagnated by doing the same things the same way for years. It’s time for them to get creative and change how they play the game to regain trust and rebuild a strong reputation.

Leadership

Thanks to the internet, consumers expect companies to have visible leaders who are experts in their industries and take a stand on important issues of the day. Wall Street executives should strive to be an influence for good and become thought leaders in smart investing, ethical banking and financial policies, and other relevant topics.

Products & Services

Businesses live or die by the strength and value of their offerings. Wall Street institutions must make sure their products and services actually help customers, solve problems, and are appropriately priced.

Workplace Environment

Although this factor mainly affects employees, it makes a difference in a business’s reputation. Consumers expect businesses they frequent to treat their employees well, and an employee’s assessment of the company is more powerful than a random customer.

Rebuilding Wall Street’s reputation will take a lot of work, but these 7 key factors provide the much-needed guidance to get them on the right track.

 

Pharmaceutical Reputation Management

The reputation of a pharmaceutical company is a precarious thing. Any negative press about your company or a new medicine can spread like wildfire online, so it’s important to make the most of all the positive content you do have.

Because bad news can spread so quickly online, reputation management for drug companies depends on maximizing all the positive content you can.

“Positive” content is anything you want to show up on the first page of a search, such as an announcement about a new medicine or promising trial results. Maximizing that content so that it is more likely to show up on the first page of a search is a two-step cycle you can repeat endlessly:

  1. Gather positive content (existing and new)
  2. Publicize it

Gathering Positive Content

First, gather all the positive content you already have about your drug company and about each drug you offer. Positive content could include but is not limited to:

  • testimonials
  • success stories
  • results of a survey or trial
  • case studies
  • feedback from partners and vendors
  • certifications and other marks of quality

Continually strive to get more positive content you can maximize for your online reputation management. Ask pharmacies and doctors for feedback and use lots of surveys and trials for research and data collection.

Publicizing Positive Content

Once you have all this positive content, the trick is to get it online in as many places as possible so it shows up in the first page of search results.

Start with a Testimonials page on your website.

On this page, publish the positive feedback you’ve received from customers, doctors, pharmacies, partner companies, and others. Any comments that show your company or specific drugs to be high quality and trustworthy belong on this page.

How to maximize your Testimonials page: Incorporate testimonials into your social media strategy with links to this page. Publish them in press releases, articles, and other online and offline materials.

Next, set up a Press, Media, or News page.

Anytime you have an announcement or press release, publish it here first. Then all other online press releases will link back to the original on your website as the source of the information.

How to maximize your News page: Anytime you have news, link the online press releases or social media announcements to the originals on your News page. If you have lots of news or announcements, you can create additional social media accounts dedicated just to getting the word out. Twitter is especially good for this.

Third, publish success stories often.

While testimonials demonstrate doctors’ confidence in your company, success stories illustrate how one of your drugs helped an individual struggling with a problem. They build your online reputation with the power of storytelling while appealing to a different segment of your target audience.

How to maximize success stories: Dedicate a page on your main website to these stories, only publishing short blurbs with a link to a different website completely devoted to success stories. That way the positive content takes two spots on a search engine results page. You can also create an additional social media account dedicated to sharing these stories.

There are plenty of other ways to maximize positive content for your drug company’s online reputation management, but these are the basics. Maintain good search rankings and press with these pharmaceutical online reputation management techniques.

How to Use YouTube to Combat a Negative Online Reputation

Not only do videos get a lot of attention in the search engines ranks compared to just regular old links, they also work really well for reputation management. Sure, they can take up a spot in the SERPs and push more negative link down, but they can also be great tools for getting your positive message across to users.

First of all, if you’re not using YouTube as part of your marketing strategy, you should be. Second, if you haven’t thought about it as a way to create a more positive online reputation, now is the time to start. And it’s not that hard.

Video Isn’t That Hard

There is a perception that in order to do effective YouTube content you have to have a big budget, actors, expensive equipment, and more. And that’s simply not true. A lot of the videos that rank well in a general Google search are just people sitting at a desk with a camera. So don’t be afraid to go out and try something.

All you have to have is a camera (your smartphone is probably just fine) and some good information. Maybe you just want to talk about your company or your services, maybe you want to give advice or create a “how to” video (on a side note, “how to” videos tend to rank better than most types of videos). The point it, if you have some great content about your company—which you probably do—getting a video together shouldn’t be that hard.

Ranking Your Video

Once you have a video made, you need to start thinking about how to get it to rank in the general search. There are only a few factors to take into account:

1) YouTube Rank

One of the factors that Google looks at when deciding to rank a video in the general search results is that video’s rank within the platform it is hosted on. In this case, if a video ranks well on YouTube it is more likely to show up on the first page of a Google search. So, first you need to focus on ranking well within the platform then think about ranking in the general search results.

2) Title, Description, and Keywords

YouTube is not nearly as complicated a search engine as the Google general search. YouTube relies much more heavily on user-generated factors to rank videos: the title, description, and keywords that users create when they upload a video. So, simply make sure that these areas include the words and phrases you want to rank well for.

In general, informational or “how to” videos tend to rank well, and videos with words that are related to products or brands tend not to rank as well. So, although you want to include the name of your brand in the video description and title, make sure it is paired with information-focused keywords as well. For example, “how to install a door knob” would be a great information title. Just make sure your brand name is included in the description (and a link to your official website is good too). Also include a handful of keywords that are relevant to the content of the video (as well as your brand name).

3) Links

Lastly, ranking well on YouTube is a lot like ranking well on Google, if you have a number of links and social shares that point to your video, it is more likely to rank well within YouTube and in the Google general search. So, do some good old-fashioned link-building to create some authority for the video. Chances are, if you are simply trying to rank for branded searches, a couple of links will be all you need. (Your brand name is not usually a high-competition keywords set.)

Lastly, keep in mind that a video can serve a dual purpose. Not only can it appear in the general search results (pushing negative links off the page), but it can be a tool for building a positive reputation. Although your video doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production to be good, if you create a video with compelling, informational content—you’ll be building trust in the eyes of anyone who sees it. And building actual trust with real people will lead to real sales and conversions, which should be your ultimate goal in the first place.

Best Outreach Strategies for Reputation Management

Optimizing your SERP today isn’t the same as it was just a few years ago. Not too long ago you could simply keyword stuff your site or do the same to off-site blogs and other web properties and, voila, you could make a positive-looking SERP pretty easily. Today, Google demands much more from websites than just a handful of keywords. Today, Google says, it’s all about providing value to the internet. To get a good SERP today, you have to employ several different strategies, like creating social profiles, guest blogging, making videos, and more.

As a result, reputation management is much more varied today, and you have to be more creative. One of the ways you can be more creative is by building out some cool content that gets links from a variety of authoritative websites. Things like infographics, e-books, videos, downloadable posters, and more can be a great way to fill up a SERP with positive mentions of your name, but they will only work if you can get people to link to them. Although many reputation management professionals may complain about how hard it is to get something to “go viral” (and not everything will), there is a strategy you can follow to at least ensure that your content—whatever it might be—gets the best chance it can get at widespread links and exposure, ensuring a place in your SERP.

1) Define your audience

First of all, you need to define your audience. Let’s say you’re doing reputation management for a company that build e-learning tools, and you want to get their latest e-book to rank in the SERPs for their name. Identify who that e-book might be useful to. Is it teachers? Is it corporate trainers? Is it parents? It is CEOs? Once you know who you need to reach out to, the next step is a no-brainer.

2) Identify the leaders

Today there is an online community for just about everything. Whether you’re targeting lifestyle management coaches, alligator enthusiasts, or harmonica players, you’ll find a community on the internet for it. All you have to do it identify who are the movers and shakers in that community, and the people that follow those leaders. Once you have identified that the e-book is targeted at corporate trainers, it’s time to step up your game and get social.

3) Establish relationships

Making friends on the web can be a bit tricky, but all it really boils down to it contacting someone and telling them you like what they’re doing. For example, once you have identified the top five blogs about corporate training, send the personality behind the blog an email, comment on a recent post, follow them on social profiles, or share their content with your followers. This step has nothing to do with asking them to read your e-book or even mentioning that you have anything to do with an e-book, it’s simply about getting their attention and showing them that you are truly interested in what they are doing.

4) Don’t ask for a link

Once you’ve spent some time building a relationship with your target, don’t ask for a link to your e-book. Asking for a link is one of the sure-fire ways to not get a link. Rather, approach your target with an idea or ask them for an opinion. Send them an email and ask them if they can give you feedback on an e-book you’ve written about corporate training, then simply send them the e-book. If you’ve already established a relationship of trust, and you ask sincerely, they’ll probably say yes. The key is to bring your target into the content creation process, make them feel like they are a valuable part of the process and that their input will help make your content better.

5) Follow up

Give them some time to look over the content you’ve sent them and then follow up to see what they might have to say about it. Don’t be pushy, just ask if they’ve had a chance to look over it and if they have any suggestions or opinions about it. Again, if you have a relationship with your target, they’ll probably make some time to get back to you—usually with some great feedback.

6) Thank them

Once they’ve given you feedback, thank them for their time and tell them how appreciative you are for their expertise and guidance. Then—finally—you can ask them if this is the type of e-book they’d want to share with their audience. They might say, no. But if they had favorable things to say about your e-book, then they’ll probably say yes. But, even at this point, you’re not asking for a link—you’re simply asking for them to share content that they already like with their audience. Which could be though a link on their blog, through a tweet, a Facebook share, or more.

Any one of theses outcomes is a win. If they link to it, that’s great. If they share it with their followers (and their follow base is sizable), many people will RT it or share it through social networks—creating many mentions of your e-book on the web.

And if you can duplicate this process with 5-10 leaders in the industry, you’ll get a huge response to your e-book. Not only will you see an uptick in downloads, but you’ll get a mess of links and it’ll probably start to rank in the SERPs for your brand or company name—which is exactly what you wanted in the first place.

 

20 Tips for Creating an Effective Reputation Management Strategy

Most of the time, I agree with the sentiment that less is more. Most times a little bit of a good thing is better than too much. But when it comes to online reputation management, more is more. Why cover just a few principles and tips and leave out everything else that will help you create a better reputation management strategy? That’s why this list was created. Here are 20 tips for creating an effective reputation management campaign.

1) Own your SERPs

Don’t be happy with a handful of links at the top of a search engine results page for your name. Take full advantage of your SERP by owning it from top to bottom. Just make sure it’s a varied set of results that look natural and unbiased and you’ll make a great impression on anyone who is searching for you.

2) Be social

Claim your social media profiles and use them. Social profiles are easy to get ranked in the SERPs—especially for your personal name. So get out there, make your profiles, and use them so that they show up when people are searching for you.

3) Blog

Blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there on the web. Buy a domain that reflects your name, like yourname.com, and then fill your blog with professional, positive information about what you do, who you are, and your personal or professional insights.

4) Look for opportunities

Opportunities to get noticed on the web abound. You can do the normal stuff, like start a blog or build links to your Google+ profile, but you can go beyond those strategies and think outside the box. For instance, hold a contest to give away a gift card or iPad, and have entrants blog about something you care about in order to enter. As long as you make sure they link to your website or blog with your name as the anchor text, you’ll get some great link juice and you’ll rank well.

5) Don’t forget press releases

Article marketing has a bad reputation in SEO circles, especially since Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates. But as long as you don’t overdo it, putting out a few press releases here and there is a great way to fill your SERP with positive information. This is probably reserved for larger companies with big budgets, but there are free PR posting services out there as well for individuals and small companies.

6) Encourage reviews

If you own a business or provide a service, encourage your best customers to write positive reviews about you on the web. Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, City Search, and more are great places to write reviews and they tend to do well in the SERPs.

7) Own the scam

Just because there’s a “scam report” out there doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. If you’ve generated a controversy and there are a number of “scam” sites out there targeting your name, turn it around by owning the scam. Instead of trying to ignore it, write a blog post about how you are not associated with a scam. Or create a page on your official website, with the word scam in the title, that you can use it to clear up any misconceptions.

8) Don’t argue

Don’t argue with internet trolls or other detractors. If you are baited into arguing with them online, you’ve already lost. In some cases, it’s okay to respond to negative comments about yourself online. But always do so respectfully and take responsibility for your actions. Don’t get into a back and forth with a blogger or review writer, you’ll only end up looking like a fool for arguing.

9) Ask to take it down

If you find negative information about yourself online, your first step should be to respectfully ask that it be taken down or removed. In some cases, that’s all you have to do to remove negative information. So why not give it a try?

10) Fix the problem

If someone has had a bad experience with your company or a service you provide, and they’ve posted negatively about it online, offer to fix the problem. Nothing quells anger like an offer to make up for something that went wrong.

11) Be civilized

In all your online dealings, be civilized. It doesn’t matter if you’re posting on your personal Facebook page or responding to a negative email. The nicer you are to people, the less likely they will be motivated to post negative information about you on the web.

12) Be an author

Embrace being a publisher. The more content—blog posts, pictures, etc.—that you can make and post on the web, the more likely Google is to pick it up and help it rank in the SERPs for your name.

13) Make some news

Many individuals and companies work extremely hard to build blogging networks and a myriad of social accounts so they can create a positive image online, but a great way to get a positive result is to be mentioned in the news for something positive you’ve done. Giving to charity, going for a Guiness world record, or offering your services as an expert in your field to a local reporter can help you get mentioned in local newspapers—and those are some great links.

14) Make friends in high places

It pays to make friends in high places—especially well respected bloggers or online journalists. First of all, they can use you in something they write that is related to your field. And, second, if you find negative information about yourself online, you can ask your friend for help. They may be able to accomplish something you can’t on your own.

15) Be a publisher

You can be a writer on your own blog, but you can also publish other people’s articles on your blog. Ask for quality blog submission from professionals in your field and post them on your website. Not only will you be making friends but you’ll also get traffic to your blog and links. Which will help you rank better in the SERPs.

16) Get listed

There are a number of ways to get yourself listed about the internet. Start with professional organizations, blog lists, and more.

17) Picture it

If you include any of your own photography on your website or if your organization has a large stockpile of corporate photos, make them available to be posted on the internet under a creative commons license that requires a link back to your website. The more links to your site, the better it will do in the SERPs and the more it will help your online reputation.

18) Be everywhere

Whenever there is a chance for you to put your name down on the internet and link to your personal or professional web properties, do it. One of the best ways to do this is to offer yourself as a guest blogger on websites that pertain to your field.

19) Use the group

Another way to create positive buzz for yourself is to join groups and professional organizations. Not only will you make some friends, but you have a chance to raise your online profile and make connections that will help you get your name and web properties to rank well in the SERPs.

20) Don’t forget about offline

Not everything you do to enhance your online reputation online has to take place online. Go to conferences, introduce yourself to colleagues, and go to professional meetups. The more people you meet and can make a good impression on (both online and off) the more you will raise your profile. And when people in the real world respect you, the online community will follow.

How to Be a Corporate Reputation Management Wizard

Reputation management might sound like a job that doesn’t require much time or effort. Besides, doesn’t the marketing department deal with the reputation of the company? Far from it. Reputation management is about more than the messaging that the marketing department puts together. It’s about controlling the way your company name is used online, in what context, and—especially—how a search engine results page (SERP) looks when a customer Googles your company or brand name.

It’s about being aware of everything going on around your company, battling online trolls, and the dragons of so-called “scam alert” sites. In some ways it’s kind of like being a wizard. So when it comes to corporate reputation management, do you want to be Frodo or Gandalf? (Who doesn’t want to be Gandalf?) Here are a few ways you can be a corporate reputation management wizard.

1) Learn

Gandalf didn’t become Gandalf by sitting around waiting for magic to happen. He had to learn his art, and learn it well. As a reputation management specialist, you should learn basic and advanced SEO principles. Follow some of the top SEO blogs and influencers and emulate what they do to achieve great search results.

But also don’t forget about dabbling in marketing as well. Reputation management isn’t all about technical SEO, it’s also about nuance, dealing with people, and crafting the right messaging to your audience—whether that means a search audience or another blogger. If you can master both, you’ll be a wizard to be reckoned with.

2) Monitor

Part of the reason Gandlaf was effective was that he kept his ear to the ground. He listened to people and he saw trends in the culture around him. You need to do the same thing to defend your company against the figurative reputation onslaught from Mordor. Use tools that will monitor the web, like Google Alerts, for mentions of your company online as well as links to your main websites. When you see negative mentions or links, seek to understand them before jumping in to execute a plan.

3) Put out small fires

Gandalf knew well ahead of time that war was coming, and he started to gather his forces and put plans into action before the Orcs assembled a full-scale attack. When you find negative mentions of your company online, focus on them right away. It doesn’t matter if the site is small or if the mention “isn’t that bad.” Small things today can turn into big problems tomorrow. So, if you can keep on top of the small tings, putting out little fires as they arise, you’ll have fewer problems down the road.

4) Start with the small stuff

Why did Gandalf start his plan with Hobbits—small and simple creatures that knew no violence or war? Because he knew they were loyal, hardworking, and would follow the plan through to the end. He knew that the battle wasn’t about how big his army was or who had the most armor. He knew to came down to the details. As an SEO wizard, start with the small stuff. Create social profiles, buy domain variations of your company name, and more. Reputation management is not a war about the biggest swords. It is a battle of the most tenacious player. So start with the little things that will help provide a solid base for the rest of your strategy.

5) Be resourceful

Why use a sword, when a staff will do? Why send a knight, when a Hobbit can sneak through the cracks in the wall easier? To truly be a corporate reputation management wizard, you have to think strategically and look at ALL the angles. For example, if you can control your branded SERPs, why not try and control a branded “scam” SERP as well? Look for angles that haven’t been explored and new ways to attack the same problem.

With a little creative thinking and knowledge on your side, you can stand up to negative links in your branded search and yell, “You shall not pass!”

Putting “Manage” Back into Reputation Management

Once there was a company that decided it was cheaper to hire cannibals as workers, so a manager brought in a group of cannibals, showed them how to do their jobs, told them that they would be treated just like anyone else in the company but asked that they avoid eating anyone.

A couple of weeks went by when the manager came to the cannibals and said, “You guys are doing a great job, we’ve really enjoyed having you here, but a secretary has gone missing—do you have any idea where she went?” The cannibals shook their heads, and the manager left.

Then the chief cannibal turned to the group and asked, “Alright, who ate the secretary?” One of the men fearfully raised his hand. The chief said, “Now they’re onto us! I’ve been eating managers for weeks, and then you had to go and eat someone important.”

All kidding aside, management is one of those words that smacks of bureaucracy and bean counting—not of accomplishment. But reputation management is about more than checking out the SERPs every once in awhile to see if your reputation is improving. Reputation management takes hard work, dedication, and leadership to accomplish its goals.

In fact, the word “manage” actually has four different meanings that can give us insight into exactly what we should be doing as reputation managers.

To Be In Charge Of

Firstly, “to manage” means to be in charge of something. And being in charge means taking responsibility for one’s actions. As managers of reputation strategies, we need to take responsibility for the reputations of the companies or brand names that we work on. That means going beyond simply making sure the SERPs look good. It means taking an interest and a leadership role when it comes to your company’s reputation and giving a direction and purpose to your efforts. Setting goals, following up, and focusing on the success of your reputation strategy are all part of managing reputation.

To Accomplish

If I manage to pull off a victory in the last seconds of the game with a half-court shot, I’ve accomplished a win for my team. Management isn’t just about making sure the strategy is moving according to plan, it’s about pulling off a victory for your company or brand. In order to accomplish your goals, you have to follow through with your promises and stick with the strategy until you can achieve SERPs that reflect positively on your company or brand.

To Cope

When a reputation crisis occurs, will you manage to turn the crisis around? To manage also means to deal with the situation that is presented to you in a way that does not betray defeat or weakness. Emergencies will arise; crises will occur; but if you have the tenacity and confidence to manage your reputation strategy with strength, you’ll come through the other side with an improved strategy and a better understanding of what it means to manage a reputation.

To Control

Lastly, to manage also means to control something. In reputation management, you need to be in control of your company or brand’s online reputation at all times. If you are vigilant, and constantly monitoring the web, you should be ready or any crisis that may arise. That’s what being in control is—having a knowledge of all possible dangers and planning for them in advance so you’re never caught off guard.

Manage Your Reputation

Although “management” can be a dirty word, it doesn’t have to be. If you can take charge of your strategy, follow it through to the end, and be prepared in advance for any threat, you’ll create a solid reputation management strategy that will protect your company or brand from attack. As for protecting yourself from the cannibals, that’s a different story.

Reputation Management as a Spork: 3 Questions to Ask to Improve Your Online Strategy

Reputation management is a spork. Just like a spork is a hybrid between a spoon and a fork, reputation management is like a hybrid between SEO and marketing. On the one hand, reputation management is about optimizing the right content so that it will rank well for your company-branded search results. At the same time, it’s about targeting the right type of people with the right kind of content so that they will form a very specific opinion about your company in only a few seconds.

It’s the marketing side of reputation management that often gets lost in the shuffle of creating a really great results page for your company. It’s easy to implement a series of strategies that build links to positive content for your company, but it’s a little more difficult trying to ascertain who exactly is searching for your company and define the best content to give them.

When it comes down to it, as a reputation management professional, you need to ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Who is searching for my company online?
  2. What are they looking for?
  3. How can I give it to them?

Who Is Searching For My Company Online?

Before you can figure out the type of content to fill a branded search results page with, you need to know who you are targeting. When you know the average age, income level, social status, and other information about your customers, you’ll be able to better understand the type of content they need in order to make a positive judgment about your company.

What Are They Looking For?

Once you know who is searching for your company online—generally, the customer base your are targeting with your products and services—you’ll be able to better assess what kinds of question they are asking and what they want to know about your company. It’s also extremely helpful to look at the search traffic that is leading to your site. What are the keywords people are using to find your website? And what are the most heavily visited pages on your site?

For example, if you sell children’s toys, your customer base consists of mothers in their mid 30s, and you find that one of the most heavily trafficked pages on your website is the page describing manufacturers, it stands to reason that people searching for your company online may be concerned about where your toys are made. Do a little more digging and may find that there is a large contingent of mothers who may be concerned about the plastics and paints used by your manufactures—either for health or environmental reasons.

Of course, not all questions may this cut and dried. But when you know who your customers are and what they are searching for, you’ll know what kind of information to give them in order to keep them on the first page of the search results

How Can You Give It to Them?

When you know what they’re searching for, give it to them. And give it to them quickly. In the example above, you’ll want to quickly reassure customers that your products are safe for their kids and for the environment. If they have to click through 3 pages on your website before finding that information, chances are that many of your potential customers have already clicked away from your site and are searching elsewhere.

Instead of burying that information deep in your website, create a subdomain on your website (that will appear as a separate search result) that speaks specifically to that question, reassuring customers that your products are safe. Or you could go a step further and create a microsite that addresses that question and then points customers to your website for more information.

The quicker you can give your potential customers what they are looking for with a branded search term, the more likely they are to trust you, and the less likely they are to look for that information elsewhere.

Control Your Message

One of the most important aspects of reputation management is to control your own message so others don’t do it for you. When you know what your customers are searching for, and can fill that need for them, you control the perception of your company as well as the search results they see. And that’s when you’ll truly have a grasp on your reputation management strategy.

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.

Other Reputation Management posts:

Stop Banging Your Head Against the Wall: 4 Reasons to Change Your Reputation Management Strategy

Why would you want to bang your head against a wall? It hurts, it wastes time, and it looks pretty silly to boot. But many companies are metaphorically banging their heads against a wall with their reputation management strategy. Although the search world keeps changing, these companies still employ the same tactics they always have in an attempt to mold a great search engine results page and solidify their online reputation with continually diminishing returns.

Albert Eisntein once said, “The definition of stupidity is doing same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So why are these companies using the same reputation strategy they’ve used for the past 2-4 years? Mostly because they don’t know they need to change, or they simply don’t want to put the effort into creating a new strategy.

Well, if you aren’t changing your reputation management strategy to reflect the current trends in search, get ready for some headaches. On the other hand, if you’d like to try something different, here are some reasons to update your reputation management strategy.

1) The Google Crackdown

Ever since the Panda update early last year, Google has been going after content farms and link spam much more aggressively. And they’ll continue to do so in the coming year. Not only are their algorithms getting more complex and harder to “game,” but Google is handing out warnings and penalizing sites that don’t more strictly adhere to their policies and guidelines for quality sites. If your reputation management strategy has employed questionable tactics in the past, now is the time to change up your strategy to avoid penalties that could leave you open to attack.

2) The Growth of Social

Just a couple years ago, it was still okay for a company to ignore the social web. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others were still considered toys that kids played with. But that is no longer true. In fact, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is the 55+ crowd. Today, social needs to be a part of any marketing strategy and is essential to your reputation management strategy. Social profiles are easy to create and they take up space in the results, giving you a stronger reputation management profile.

Plus, Google is increasingly relying on social signals to determine page rank. If you’re not using social at this point, it’s time to change your ways.

3) The Rise of Mobile

Many experts in the industry agree that 2012 will be the year of mobile. A larger portion of the population is using smart phones and other wireless devices to access the internet. This means that a larger portion of users are taking advantage of mobile devices to search for your company name as well as upload and create reviews and other content on the fly. And it is entirely possible that Google will begin optimizing results for content that is mobile friendly. So you need to be more vigilant about online reviews affecting your brand-targeted searches, and you need to get on the bandwagon with mobile.

4) The World is Changing

There is a reason you don’t see beeper stores anymore. Technology has moved on and the culture with it. As the access to technology and communication becomes easier and more affordable, the channels people use to access information about your company will grow, and you need to grow with it. Look for trends and be ready to adapt to those trends, or your online reputation may suffer.

Stop the Headaches

History has proven that companies and individuals who were unwilling to change and try new strategies and new technologies have dried up and failed (remember MySpace?). It’s a new year; a time for renewal and change. Take this opportunity to update your reputation management strategy and stop banging your head against a wall.