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.