Top 12 things CEOs can do to boost corporate reputation

As the face of the company, CEOs embody and express the company’s reputation, so it’s important they play an active role in defining and maintaining it. Following are the top 12 things CEOs can do to boost corporate reputation.

1. Be very visible and vocal.

As the topmost representative of the business, a CEO’s name often becomes synonymous with the company’s. Being visible and vocal reinforces the connection and builds leadership.

2. Use social media.

There are several positive results from CEOs’ using social media use, including improved corporate reputation and increased employee engagement. It also helps with online reputation management and builds relationships with employees, partners, prospects, media, and others.

3. Become an industry leader.

“Publish or perish” applies to executive and corporate reputations as much as academic ones. Regularly publishing high-quality content about your industry, like innovations, research, and predictions, builds both the CEO’s and the company’s thought leadership and authority.

4. Be friendly and approachable.

CEOs are the human side of the business. The more open and friendly you are, the more approachable the company as a whole seems. It also helps you attract better talent and publicity.

5. Maintain a strong executive reputation.

Because the CEO’s reputation is tied so closely to the company’s, keeping a strong executive reputation is a must. Your good name and the business’s good name build and reinforce each other.

6. Encourage transparency and integrity.

Openness and honesty are two critical factors influencing how your company is perceived. They especially affect your reputation as a trustworthy, credible business.

7. Champion the company values and vision.

As the highest executive officer of the company, a big part of the CEO’s job is promoting and communicating the company values and vision. Embracing them is the most effective way to show what the business stands for.

8. Foster improved communication.

Better communication all around contributes to many benefits. Increased customer exposure to your messaging is important, while improving internal communications is how you build a strong, loyal team.

9. Ask for feedback.

The company’s direction should be constantly evaluated and adjusted to make sure it delivers the most benefit. Asking for and acting on feedback helps you maintain a good corporate image and executive reputation.

10. Turn employees into brand ambassadors.

The CEO can only do so much to communicate the company’s values and boost the corporate reputation. Helping employees embrace the vision can substantially improve the business’s reputation and its bottom line.

11. Promote good governance and leadership.

Actions speak louder than words, especially when they come from the highest level. Avoid unethical behaviors and strive to be the kind of leader you want your executive team, directors, and managers to be. Your example and the resulting trickle-down effect will work wonders for everyone’s reputation and satisfaction.

12. Always be innovating and generating ideas.

CEOs who get too comfortable and who don’t keep up with changing times tend to have the shortest tenures. By always thinking ahead and being willing to adapt, you keep your job and build a robust company reputation.

How Social Media Affects Online Reputation Management

Social media plays a huge role in online reputation management. The many platforms available, their popularity in search results, and how quickly and easily they can spread information all make social media powerful tool in your reputation management arsenal.

There are 4 major ways social media can affect your reputation management online, and the consequences can be either positive or negative. That’s why it’s crucial to have a strong, sound strategy in place for what types of content you’ll post, when you’ll be active, and how you will respond and interact with followers.

Build, Change, or Solidify Your Reputation

Everything you say and do on social media–including the major social platforms as well as blogs, forums, review sites, and other interactive media online–has the power to build a new reputation, adapt an existing image, and solidify your current profile. What you like, what you share, the comments you make, the content you create, the causes you support, the information you give–all of these affect how followers perceive you.

This is where a sound strategy is so important. Without a plan to follow, a seemingly innocuous comment or a small mistake can snowball into a big reputation problem.

Social media has such a powerful effect on your reputation management because your actions happen in real time. Where press releases and traditional management tactics may take days or weeks to make a difference, what you say or do online can go viral in a matter of hours.

In addition to creating a good strategy, use social media to your reputation’s advantage with these best practices:

 

  • Claim your name on all the major social platforms

  • Use the social media most relevant to you and your target audience

  • Be consistently active

  • Use a variety of social channels, such as forums, blogs, multimedia platforms, and the big 4 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+)

Control How You Appear in Search

On top of affecting your reputation itself, social media is an important component of managing your reputation because it tends to appear high in search results. When your social profiles and content appear on the first page of a search, less desirable content gets pushed down, meaning your audience is less likely to see bad reviews, detractors’ comments, and other negative content.

So not only does your social strategy build or change your reputation, it also affects how much of the first page of Google you own.

The good news is, following the best practices listed above is a pretty easy way to get more real estate in search engine results. The bad news is, any negative consequences of your actions on social media will also appear highly in search results.

Rule of thumb: if you don’t want it to appear on search, don’t put it online at all.

Monitor What Others Say About You

Although there are too many social channels to effectively keep track of everything everyone thinks about you, the real-time publishing nature of social media helps you see a fairly accurate representation of how others perceive you at any given time. And knowing what people think of you is the first step to managing your online reputation.

How do you know what people are saying and thinking about you?

 

  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, your company name, and important keywords

  • Use Technorati to discover what bloggers are posting about you

  • Sign up for tools like TweetDeck, SocialMention, or Trackur to find and save keyword searches, hashtag searches, multimedia, and social conversations

Respond to What Others Say About You

With monitoring how others perceive you comes the opportunity to respond. Strategy is important here, too, because responding to a detractor’s comment or bad review in the heat of the moment is often worse than letting the negative content sit for a few days.

At the same time, staying abreast of your followers’ and customers’ real-time perceptions and comments can help you avoid crises, take advantage of newsjacking, provide exceptional support, and continue building your reputation.

Responding to positive mentions of your brand–such as retweets of your content, good reviews, and thank yous–is always a good move. It shows you listen to and value your audience.

Done right, responding to negative brand mentions can help you resolve problems, improve your offering, and correct misinformation. When you respond calmly and professionally, even negative social mentions can support your reputation for listening to and valuing your audience.

It’s impossible to ignore how much social media affects your online reputation and how you manage it. The trick is to craft and follow an effective social strategy.

 

How the Banking Industry can Improve Their Online Reputation

Banks are notorious for having bad reputations, and things have only gotten worse during the recent economic downturn and financial crises. Knowing which factors influence a poor reputation and some specific steps to take can help banks large and small rebuild their good reputations.

A 2012 Study by American Banker concluded that some of the largest banks: Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America have the poorest reputations.

4 Reasons Contributing to Banks’ Poor Reputations

1. Fee Increases During Hard Times

According to CFO.com, banking profitability is down from from about 26% in past years to about 14%. While fee increases support bank profits, in the context of a larger economic downturn they have a strong negative effect on reputation. Both real and proposed new fees and fee increases create a reputational backlash.

2. Lack of Direct Interaction & Communication

According to AmericanBanker.com, direct interaction and exposure to the company’s messaging (including “advertising, marketing, public relations activities or social responsibility efforts”) have huge impacts on a bank’s reputation. A lack of either or both has a large detrimental effect on reputation.

3. Relative Value Mindset

Banks often see reputation as just another way to beat competitors. While reputation can be a major differentiator, building a good one is not a race to the finish line.

4. Recent Scandals

Banks seem to have more scandals than most other businesses. All scandals adversely affect all banks. They prompt customers and investors to pay more attention to bank behavior so even the littlest problem can become a major concern. If scandals lead to criminal indictments against banks, the net effect is even worse because no one wants to do business with a criminal.

5 Ways Banks Can Rebuild a Good Reputation

First, improve communication both externally and internally.

External communication includes:

  • positive brand messaging
  • asking for and responding to feedback from customers and investors
  • showing that your bank is a responsible, trustworthy lender in tough times

Internal communication means:

  • making it clear to employees what kinds of behavior are rewarded or unacceptable
  • talking about the company’s strategy, mission, and values
  • accepting and responding to feedback from employees

Second, focus on consistency.

If you’re communicating one thing but doing the opposite, your reputation will align with your actions. Compensation and reward structures must match your internal communications to employees. Acquisitions, lending policies, customer service, and other actions must align with your external messaging to customers and investors.

Third, work on existing relationships.

Because bank profits are decreasing and other industries are moving into the banking sector, banks cannot afford high customer churn rates anymore. That means it’s important to work on retaining customers and improving their experience and direct interaction with you.

Fourth, live up to expectations.

According to Anthony Johndrow of Reputation Institute (source), customers expect banks “to engage in citizenship, good governance and innovation, along with having solid financial performance and trustworthy products and services.” A bank’s ability to meet those 5 expectations will be reflected in its general reputation.

Fifth, use social media more aggressively.

Because social media promotes both communication and direct interaction, it can be a more powerful positive influence on reputation than other sources. Use it more aggressively to help customers and provide accountability and transparency.

Travel Industry Online Reputation Management

According to eMarketer, the number of people who research and book a trip online increases dramatically every year, and the trend will only continue. That’s why it is so important for hoteliers, agencies, and other travel marketers to take control of their reputations online.

Start your online reputation management off on the right track with these ideas.

Drive prospects to owned media

The eMarketer report indicates that branded travel websites are the second most common source travelers use when researching and booking travel online. That means your branded website, blog, and other owned media are the most important resources you have to help customers and influence a positive reputation.

Use a strong, comprehensive search engine optimization and paid search strategy to drive traffic to the media you own and control. Publish lots of unique, useful content on your website, social channels, and other owned media to help them appear high in search results.

Incorporate ads and reviews

Paid media such as search ads, Facebook ads, and promoted tweets can be the catalyst that introduces travel researchers to your brand and inspires engagement. Use them in conjunction with strong SEO and reviews.

Earned media, especially reviews and positive social mentions, increases your credibility and is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, making it very powerful. Use the following ideas to generate positive reviews and mentions:

  • ask for reviews on social media
  • host a contest or giveaway with the prize going to a randomly selected reviewer
  • use email to encourage customers to talk about their experience

Use social media aggressively

According to iProspect, the very first thing travel brands should do to control their reputations is claim brand presence on social platforms. The biggest social media–Facebook, Twitter, Google+, TripAdvisor, and various listing sites–are the perfect channels for generating powerful reviews and recommendations and spreading awareness of your brand.

Lots of updated content and the judicious use of ads on all these platforms can make a huge difference to both your bottom line and how you are perceived.

Make your media more visually appealing

Like the food and real estate industries, travel depends on visual elements to perform well. Using beautiful, high-resolution videos, photos, and other multimedia impacts your reputation in a few ways:

1      If you invest the time and money to create appealing visual media, your services are more likely to be high quality as well.

2      Great multimedia are more likely to be shared, increasing your brand’s exposure and creating indirect recommendations.

3      Visual media are easy to publish across many different platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Flickr, etc.), making them more likely to show up in a video or image search.

Having an appealing and easy-to-use website makes a big difference, too. It encourages reviews, makes it easy to research and book a trip, and is more likely to show up in search results thanks to better navigation and user experience.

Focus on your customers

Your online reputation directly reflects your reputation in general. Take ownership of your reputation in all its facets by making customer experience as remarkable as possible.

5 Steps to Controlling Your Personal Online Reputation

Personal reputation management is a growing trend, and has been for awhile as corporate professionals and business owners continue to realize the power of building their own brand.

Controlling your personal reputation online depends on what you’re trying to achieve and how much time and effort you have to put into it. Get started managing the brand of you with these basic steps.

1. Register your name across all major social media accounts.

Thanks to the advent of social media, potential employers and anybody who wants to learn more about you can find you pretty easily. Control what appears in search results by owning your name in all the major social platforms, including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

If you work in a field with an industry-specific social network, register your name there too.

2. Set up privacy controls.

Most social platforms give you privacy options, so only yourself or connections can see certain information on your profile. Set your privacy setting to the equivalent of “Friends Only” or “Friends of Friends Allowed.”

Additionally, you may be able to adjust the privacy setting of individual updates. But a word of caution: privacy controls don’t stop your friends from sharing your posts, so a photo you thought was between you and the guys could suddenly affect your job search if the guys are sharing it publicly.

The best way to make sure no one sees anything you don’t want them to see is to never let it go online in the first place.

3. Be active enough.

If you’re not active on your social accounts, they won’t show up in search results, leaving lots of room on the first page of Google for other things to appear. Sharing, commenting, or posting something new at least once a week on the major social platforms should be good enough for basic personal reputation management.

If you are an executive in your company or trying to build thought leadership, you need to be a lot more active–at least one post on each network and plenty of shares and comments daily.

4. Own your branded domain name.

In addition to social media accounts, exact and partial match domains tend to show up well in search results. So when people search for “John Smith” they are likely to see results like JohnSmith.com, JohnSmith.net, and JohnSmith.wordpress.com as well as John Smith’s social media accounts.

If you’re just trying to control how you appear online, you don’t necessarily need to add any content to the website. You want to own your own domain name so no one else can use it. But if you have the time, it doesn’t hurt to create a blog or portfolio on your site to show off your skills and build your brand.

5. Use personal homepage sites to pull everything together.

Buying domain names, getting hosting, and setting up a website costs money. If you don’t want to spend much to manage your personal online reputation (or if you’re a college student and don’t have much to spend), you can use personal homepage sites like About.me or Flavors.me to create a hub for all your content online.

These free pages tend to rank very well and include a short bio, a photo, and links to your social accounts. You can even attach your branded domain name to the personal homepage to give it more weight in search engine results.

And here’s a new video I did with Online Reputation Management Tips:

Reputation Management for People Who Aren’t Good at Making Content

Content marketing is all the rage right now. Every SEO website, every marketing website, and any website that has anything to do with building a business online is filled with talk about content marketing—even reputation management websites. Partly that’s because creating great content is a surefire way to attract links and rank well in a Google search.

In terms of reputation management, if you can make great content across the web, you can get that stuff to appear in the first page of your branded search instead of malicious “scam reports” or links to malicious reviews.

But what if you are terrible at making content? What if you’re too busy running your business and you don’t have the funds to hire someone to make content for you? You can still earn a great online reputation without building a social following, blogging, or making videos. It takes a slightly different set of skills, and it’s hard work, but it can be very effective. In fact, it’s not that different from what you should be doing as a business anyway.

If you want to improve your online reputation, but you don’t want to do content marketing, here are a few things you can try:

1) Start from the inside

Some people may be using content marketing as a way to make up for their lack of a top-notch product or service. Or they may be pushing out so much content that they don’t feel they need to invest in their customer’s experience. But if you have a great product and great customer service, maybe you don’t need to be investing as much in content.

A bad online reputation usually starts with an unsatisfied customer. Whether they are unhappy that your product or service didn’t live up to their expectations or they simply had a bad experience dealing with your company, customers today will take to the web to vent their frustrations. They’ll write bad reviews, rant about your company in a blog post, or even contribute to those so-called “scam report” websites.

The best way to avoid unhappy customers is not to have any in the first place. Listen to your customers’ feedback and criticisms and use that feedback to improve your product and your service. When you have happy customers, you don’t have to worry about a bad online reputation.

2) Ask for positive reviews

If you don’t want to create content, ask your customers to do it for you. If you’re running a successful business, it is likely you already know who your best customers are. If you want more positive reviews online, simply ask your best customers to write reviews for you.

Most customers won’t write reviews unless they have an extremely bad experience or they have an extremely good one. But what about all those people in between? Most customers won’t write reviews simply because they haven’t thought about it. So just open your mouth, ask them to review you, and watch your online reputation start to improve.

3) Build partnerships

This is a bit more on the marketing side, but if you want to build a positive online reputation, you need to get people on the web saying positive things about you and your company. So build some partnerships. For example, if you own a coffee shop, build a relationship with the local bookstore and tell them that anyone who comes in with a receipt from that bookstore will get fifty cents off their next coffee. Ask the bookstore to put that offer on their website and link to you.

Not only will you build your customer base, but you’ll also get a local business to mention you on their website—which could now appear in the search results for your company name. And you didn’t have to make any content to do it.

Essentially, building a positive online reputation should go hand-in-hand with being a good business and building real-world relationships with your customers, other businesses, and more—which is what you should be doing anyway. When you can build a positive reputation for yourself in the real world, your online reputation will follow. So, if you don’t want to focus on making content to combat a negative online reputation, take a step back and build a good reputation for your business in the real world, and the online world will reflect your real world reputation.

Social Triangle of Trust

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.

Using Random Affinities for Reputation Management

A little while ago, Ian Lurie, CEO at Portent, wrote about an interesting tactic he uses to get more ideas for marketing as well as better target his own marketing. Lurie uses Amazon, Facebook ads, Google suggest, and more to find out what random topics come up when he searches for products similar to his (or his clients’). What he is searching for are “random affinities” (and you can read about his methods here).

Random affinities are topics and interests that are shared by a number of the people who all buy the same product or visit the same website repeatedly. Basically, they are things that your customers have in common with one another but have nothing to do with you. For example, Lurie has found that people who like “cycling” also tend to like the Cartoon Network show, Adventure Time. If you were selling bicycles, that might be an interesting insight to have and it might help you sell more bikes if you include Adventure Time references in your website copy or put a picture of Finn and Jake on your local flier.

But what does this have to do with reputation management? Reputation management isn’t just about creating a clean branded SERP, it’s about giving the people who are searching for you a positive view of your company in a way that makes them want to click through to your site, learn more about you, and—possibly—buy the stuff you are trying to sell them.

Essentially, if you can show your users that you are into the same things they are before they even click on your official website link in the SERP, you can begin to build a positive reputation right away. Using the example above, let’s say you own that bike shop and you know your customers are probably into Adventure Time. Part of your reputation management campaign could be to run a contest to give away a new bike with an Adventure Time paint job. Get your contest written up in a few cycling websites, build some links to those references, and then you have yourself a great link in your branded SERP that not only makes your bike shop look great, but it also connects with your potential customers before they even come to your site.

Let’s put this tactic into action. Here are more ways you can use random affinities to your advantage:

Guest Blogging—guest blogging can get boring and tedius, especially if you’re doing reputation management for a company that isn’t extremely exciting. If you can identify some random affinities, then you can shake up your blogging by referencing those topics in your posts or use those random affinities as analogies for your topic. Writing a blog post like, “How Watching Adventure Time Can Make You a Better Cyclist,” and posting it on an Adventure Time fan blog might not only get you a great link in the SERP but could also bring in some new customers.

Infographics—Take your blogging ideas to the next level by creating sharable content like infographics that include references to the random affinity or are outright targeted at fans of the random affinity. Although there could be some copyright issues, make a cycling infographic littered with Adventure Time artwork (or art work similar to Adventure Time). Or, make an infographic about Adventure Time and relate it to cycling. Either way, a great link that connects the two topics will be fantastic for your online reputation.

Contests—Already mentioned above, hold a contest or giveaway that involves the random affinity. For example, what if you created a contest that asked cyclists to send in awesome pictures of them having adventures on their bikes, then give away Adventure Time DVDs as a prize.

The beauty of finding these random affinities is that they open all kinds of possibilities for making great content, getting it published around the web, and building great links in your branded SERP that not only make you look like a positive company but also connect with your audience before they even see your website. And any company that can do that will have no problem building a great reputation, online or off.

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.

 

Creative Brainstorming for Reputation Management in “Boring” Industries

Last month, we discussed the idea that doing reputation management for “boring” industries is harder than doing reputation management for industries like energy drinks, celebrities, or trampolines (trampolines are awesome!). But nothing could really be further from the truth. In reality, each industry will pose its own set of unique problems. And if you think you are doing reputation management for a boring company, perhaps the problem is not the company, but a lack of creativity on your part.

One of the best examples of thinking outside the box and making a boring product exciting comes from the great Don Draper of Mad Men. In the clip below, Kodak has just invented what they call “the wheel,” a circular slide projector that allows you to continuously flip through slides and not have to insert them one by one. The Kodak executives think marketing the product will be extremely hard because there’s nothing exciting about their new product. They think it’s a huge leap forward in terms of technology, but the science behind slide projectors is not exactly frontpage news.

Don throws science out the window and is able to capture the real essence of the product and what it will mean for everyday people. He didn’t start with any preconceived notions about what the product should be. Instead, he looked at what the product could be and what it could mean to people. In a nutshell, he was simply being creative.

Creativity is Not a Gift

Anyone can be creative—even doing reputation management for a boring product. Creativity is not a gift that one is simply born with. It is simply the exercise of looking at an everyday object or idea, asking questions about it, and looking at it from a different perspective. And anyone can learn to do it. In fact, here are some strategies that can help you look at a boring industry with a different perspective and do better reputation management as a result.

Define the Problem

Many times, if something isn’t succeeding, we either simply ignore the problem and plow ahead anyway, or we try the first solution that comes to us—we fall back on the strategies we’ve always used. As a result, sometimes we offer many solutions without actually solving any problems. The next time you’ve hit a wall with linkbuilding, linkbait ideas, or more, look to understand the problem first.

One way to do this is the “5 Whys” method. If you have a problem, ask why. Answer that question, then ask why again. And so on. Like this:

1)    I can’t get my client’s YouTube video to rank higher. Why?

2)    Because no one is watching it. Why?

3)    Because it’s boring to watch. Why?

4)    Because it’s just the CEO talking about the financial structure behind the product. Why is that boring?

5)    Because the company’s customers don’t care about the finances. Why not?

6)    Because the product is for stay-at-home moms, and business finance doesn’t relate to their everyday experience.

Once you understand what the problem is, you’ll begin to understand how to solve it.

Define the Audience

Post-Penguin and Panda, it’s getting harder and harder to rely on our old tricks as reputation management specialists. Now we actually have to get people to like, link to, or talk about our clients and their products in order to build a better reputation. But you can’t make people care about your boring company if you don’t know who you are talking to. Do some research; look at your customer data. Sometimes, simply knowing WHO you need to target will present a thousand different ideas for improving your reputation management strategy.

Think Offline

Why is it that we rarely have our best ideas while we are at work? We’re usually too busy working to be able to let our minds wander and find solutions on their own. If you’re stuck doing the same old strategies for the same boring industry, take a break. Walk away form your computer and think offline for a while. Sitting in a restaurant, watching people at the grocery store, putting together a model car, or doing a seemingly non-related task can help you make connections to the problem you’re dealing with.

Add Constraints

Too often, we don’t want to be constrained when we are brainstorming. We want all out options open so we can be more creative. But that’s not when we’re most creative. When we have all possibilities open, we get confused, don’t know which direction to head, get frustrated and give up. So, instead of saying, “Let’s brainstorm all the ways we can get site X to rank better,” give yourself a constraint, like:

  • What if we couldn’t use Google to get traffic to the site?
  • What if we could only get links from Facebook?
  • What if the site only had one page?
  • What if the site was only text (or only picture) based?
  • What if the site was targeted at dog owners?
  • What if we could only use HTML5?
  • Etc.

Instead of limiting your ideas, constraints can help you look at a project in a new way, and spur many great ideas.

When it all boils down, doing reputation management for a non-exciting industry or company is just a matter of stepping outside your normal paradigm and looking at the problem form a different perspective. And if you can do that, the ideas will come and you’ll make the boring job an exciting one.