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.

 

SEO: The Cornerstone of any Online Reputation Management Strategy

Although online reputation management works in a variety of ways, it often depends heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) to fill the first page of search results with positive content about your brand. Optimizing a webpage to increase its relevance and quality so it appears high in search results isn’t easy, and to top it off, search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to ensure they return the most relevant and high-quality results.

Simply having an abundance of positive content about your brand isn’t always enough. All that positive content needs to be optimized to appear in search results. Search engines use a combination of links from reputable websites and high-quality content–content that is not only positive but also well-written or professional-looking–to determine a webpage’s relevance and authority to a search query.

The more relevant the page is to the query and the more authority it has earned, the higher it will show in search results.

So how do you make the positive content about your brand more relevant, and the websites that content lives on more authoritative?

By using the right tools to give search engines what they want. The more freshness, diversification, and support you can give your positive content, the better. These are some of the biggest indicators of relevance and authority the search engines look for.

Freshness

A website’s freshness means how often it is updated. The more often a site is updated, the more often search engines have to “crawl” the site in order to find and index new content.

You can teach search engines to index your site more frequently if you publish new content regularly. If your site is being indexed often enough, it will start to move up the rankings on search results pages.

Another important component of freshness is what all those regular updates tell the search engines. If the website is worth all the activity of regular updates, then it is much more likely to be a relevant, authoritative resource for searchers.

The trick to maintaining freshness on the webpages you want to appear on the first page of search results is to always be on the lookout for positive content. Your marketing and public relations teams need to keep a sharp eye for any positive content that can be used to protect your online reputation.

Diversification

Diversifying is as beneficial for online reputation management as it is for investment portfolios: it reduces risks and increases the likelihood of gains.

There are two important aspects of diversifying your online reputation management.

The first is using multiple types of content. You can have all the glowing testimonials in the world, but if all you have is testimonials and no case studies or data to back up your results, that starts to look a bit suspicious. And search engines will only return so many results of one type of content, leaving plenty of room on the first page for negative content.

This means in addition to testimonials, you want to harness the power of reviews, success stories and case studies, press releases, YouTube videos, articles about your expertise, and more.

The second important part of diversification is using multiple websites. The more websites you own and control, the more spaces on the first search results page you can potentially fill, with positive content you have complete control over.

Creating multiple websites isn’t as daunting as it sounds at first. Instead of putting all your content in one place online, simply spread it out by assigning a specific purpose and audience to each different website.

For example, a pharmaceutical online reputation management strategy might include a website for consumers and doctors, another for pharmacies and vendors, a separate blog, and another website for publishing survey results and other data.

Diversifying content in these two ways makes your content more relevant and authoritative because each website and type of content appeals to specific audiences and search queries.

Support

Good support means earning plenty of links to your website(s) from many different reputable sources over a long period of time. Flooding your website with too many links all at once is very suspicious and you will almost certainly be penalized for it. And trying to get links from low-quality websites won’t help your rankings, either.

The trick to getting good links is to create content so valuable you could practically sell it. When your content is that unique and useful, it draws attention from the kind of websites you want to link to yours.

Earning links that way takes time, though. When you don’t have a lot of time to devote to getting that support, you can create some of it yourself through press releases, article marketing, and blogging. Just make sure this content is as helpful and valuable as possible.

Building good support for your websites is an important part of online reputation management for two reasons.

First, it improves your off-page SEO, which helps your content appear higher in search results.

Second, the webpages linking to yours can also show up on search results pages, so searchers see even more positive content about your brand.

Getting plenty of support through high-quality links tells search engines that other people online think your content is relevant and authoritative, which strongly influences how search engines rank results.

Freshness, diversification, and support are not the only SEO tools to use in your online reputation management strategy, but they are some of the most important. Implement all three and you’ll be well on your way to presenting searchers with the best information about your brand.

Where are the Drug Commercials on YouTube?

Pharmaceutical companies tend to do a poor job managing their online reputations, especially on YouTube. Major drug companies like Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, Abbott Laboratories and GlaxoSmithKline spend millions of dollars each year developing and marketing new pharmaceuticals to the public. After the cost of developing these drugs, millions of dollars are spent on television advertisements. Just watch an hour or so of primetime TV any night of the week and you’re bound to see a handful of drugs ads that promise to reduce your cholesterol, relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation, help you sleep better, be happier, and generally improve your life.

Finding official information on Google for drugs with unique names like Abilify, Nexium, Crestor, Cymbalta, Humira, Celebrex and Advair  is pretty straightforward, and the SERPs will show the official corporate drug website in the top spot. But search any of these drugs on YouTube you’ll discover it is almost impossible to find even one of the broadly televised commercials. YouTube is the second largest search engine just after Google receiving upwards of 3 billion searches a month. Considering the millions spent on TV advertising it would benefit drug companies to spend a small fraction of this amount creating effective YouTube channels and promoting the online videos.

Obviously the biggest roadblocks for pharmaceuticals are the legal and regulatory requirements and restrictions. Many are related to side effects being spelled out in communications, but this problem is solved when an “official” commercial is being used online. If fact, both drug benefits and side effects can be listed additionally in the description area set aside for YouTube videos. And if there are issues related to the barrage of uncensored comments made by video viewers, this can be solved by simply not allowing comments to be made on a video.

Clearly there are opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to improve their online reputation by exploring how YouTube can help them extend their marketing and education reach. Here are some recommendations:

1)    Look for ways to benefit from the extremely large audience using YouTube (2 billion videos viewed every day)

2)    Produce unique longer form commercials for online use only

3)    Promote YouTube videos through other social media (Twitter)

4)    Develop an SEO strategy for videos so they’ll rank higher in both YouTube and Google searches

5)    Make videos available so they can be embedded in other drug review type websites

6)    Properly title, describe and tag videos so they can be easily found, and so they rank higher in both YouTube and Google results

7)    Use the description area of the video to link to the main drug site

7)    Use annotations within videos to help viewers find additional information

8)    Create localized versions of commercials in different languages such as Spanish

YouTube Pharmaceutical and Medicine Advertising Policy

AdWords Healthcare and Medicines Policy

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.

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.

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.

The Importance of Anchor Social Websites in Your Reputation Management Strategy

When you are building a reputation management strategy, you don’t want to build it like a house of cards. Rather, you want to make sure everything is strong and that all parts of your strategy are working together to achieve the goal of a unified and ironclad SERP. To that end, you can’t simply have a dozen websites and profiles out there floating in cyberspace, hoping that they’ll all rank.

Post-Penguin and Panda, Google is not just looking for keywords and a high number of links, they’re also measuring authority. Although authority can be measured in many different ways online, Google likes to see companies and websites that clearly link their properties together. That way, they know which sites and profiles are genuine, which ones are fake, and which ones to trust the most.

Think about it like a tent—not the nylon tent you used to go camping last weekend—but like a huge circus tent. In a large tent like that, the center pole is held in place by a series of little 6-inch stakes that are pounded into the ground all around the tent. The tension the little stakes create on the canvas holds the center pole in place and allows people to come in and see the big show.

In this analogy, your corporate site is the center pole. The only way it’s going to make it to the top is if it is anchored by a number of other sites that are sponsored by you and clearly link to your main site. That way, when Google walks in the tent to see the show, they know that your circus (nee, company) is legit.

So what are the anchors?

Facebook

This is a must-have if you want to have a solid reputation management strategy. Publish news from your corporate blog through your Facebook page, link to your home page in the information section of your profile, and publish your contact information. When Google looks at your Facebook page and sees that the information syncs with your corporate page, it’ll know you’re legit and rank everything higher.

Twitter

Similar to Facebook, make sure all your profile information syncs. Additionally, if you can put your official corporate Twitter feed on your site, Google can verify that both sites are clearly and officially connected.

LinkedIn

Again, make sure all your information syncs with your main site and you link to your main site from your profile. Beyond that, if you have an HR section on your site, link to your company LinkedIn and encourage your employees to connect with it and interact with it.

YouTube

One of the great things about YouTube is that you can post compelling content on the site and share it across the web. So, not only should you link your YouTube channel to your corporate site, but you can publish corporate videos to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles. Google can then see the clear connection between all your sites and acknowledge that they are all official properties of your company.

Google+

Whether you like it or not, Google+ plus can play a significant role in your reputation management strategy. One of the ways you can use it is to link author profiles to your Google+ page. For example, if you have employees who are blogging on your corporate blog and out in the blogosphere on company business, have them link their bylines to corporate profiles on your official site, and then have their Google+ profiles link to their corporate profiles. It’s a way to leave breadcrumbs on the internet of who is connected to who, and Google appreciates the roadmap to all your connections, which will only help build their confidence in your official site and all your other web properties.

If the stakes of the tent are taken out, the center pole will fall. Although it’s a solid piece of wood, it can’t sustain itself without the help of the anchors. Don’t let your corporate reputation management strategy fail, anchor your sites together and link them all, so Google will see everything you do and trust you more for it.

Using YouTube for Reputation Management

Online Reputation management takes a number of forms. Most online reputation management strategies revolve around Google and the other major search engines. However, did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world? And if there are a number of negative videos posted about you on YouTube it could adversely affect your online reputation. Not only could those video appear in branded SERPs and give your customers the wrong impression, but if you’re not optimizing any YouTube content, anyone searching the video hosting platform for your name will be given a series of negative videos about your business or brand.

So, how do you combat negative videos on YouTube? You have to create your own positive videos and push those negative videos down further in the results. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

1) Create Great Videos

First off, you need to create some video content yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be a tour of your offices, a product demo, a short message form your CEO, or anything else related to your brand. Then post your video to YouTube.

2) Optimize the Titles

Just like optimizing for other search engines, your title counts. Make sure to include your business name in the title and any other keywords that would be helpful for people to find information about your company. YouTube uses titles to match search relevancy, and you’ll have a higher click-through-rate if the people who are searching for your videos can find you easily.

3) Write Descriptions

Again, use your brand name in the video description, preferably within the first sentence, along with other keywords that you want to rank for. You’ll only need a sentence or two—because the first three lines are the only ones that are shown to the user by default. Then tag your video with your business name and other relevant keywords. YouTube videos with longer descriptions and even links to your corporate website will generally rank higher than videos with minimal description. Don’t  be shy.

4) Get Views

Unlike Google search, YouTube counts views as a ranking factor. The more views you have—and the most recent views—the higher your video will rank in the YouTube search results. Of course, this is the real heart of the matter. Because if you can get your videos to rank high in the search, then people who are searching for your business name will see your videos before they see the negative videos that anyone else might have posted about you.

5) Build Links

Just like a regular reputation management campaign, you need to build links to the videos that you want to rank well for in the YouTube results. You can build regular links to the videos, but you can also embed the videos in other places across the web. YouTube recognizes embeds as links and they count toward your search rank.

6) Get Positive Ratings and Comments

Another ranking factor for YouTube is the number of positive reviews and comments you have. Just like Google, YouTube is trying to serve the highest quality content to its users, so videos with a high user rating and a large number of comments will rank better—because they generally are better. For your reputation management efforts, this means that you need to get a high number of people to watch your videos on a regular basis, rate them, and comment on them. If you have a large organization, you can leverage your existing employees and co-workers.

Running a reputation management campaign on YouTube is not much different than cleaning up your SERPs in Google—in fact, it might be a bit easier. Just keep in mind that what you are trying to do is simply get your videos to rank higher than the negative videos and focus all your efforts to that end. If you can do that, you won’t have a problem creating a better reputation on YouTube.