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Social Media Archives - Big Blue Robot - Online Reputation Management

How to Use Social Media to Avoid an Online Reputation Crisis

Most corporate cultures have a crisis management plan to fall back on in a reputational emergency. Online reputation management done right, especially with the use of social media, can prevent and mitigate problems before they become full-blown crises. Use social media to take control of your presence online and avoid a potential crisis with these 6 steps.

Plan and Prepare

Many brands are quick to jump on the newest social media bandwagon but slow to plan how they can best use it. Most crises can be prevented by planning important factors ahead of time, including:

  • what and how often to post on each social platform
  • which metrics are most important to the brand
  • how to measure and report on those metrics
  • how the brand will respond to both positive and negative comments
  • what the brand will do to show transparency, build trust, and boost engagement
  • how social media managers, employees, and others will react to, contain, and minimize the damage of a social media reputation crisis

Monitor Constantly

The best thing about social media is that everything happens in real time. That can also be a bad thing if you’re not constantly monitoring and moderating your social media accounts. Use tools like Sprout Social or Trackur to keep an eye on what others are saying about your brand, people, and products. Effective monitoring is the first step to protecting your reputation and helps you spot problems before they have time to snowball.

Moderate As Appropriate

Your social media profiles are an extension of your business website and company culture. That means they need to be moderated to reflect your brand in the best light possible while also providing transparency. This type of moderation means the removal of inappropriate content such as racism or pornography. Catching and removing this kind of unsuitable content as early as possible prevents high levels of “unlikes”, “unfollows”, lost customers, and lost reputational capital.

Prepare Against Threats

Hacked social media accounts can be devastating to your brand’s reputation. You must have strong threat detection and escalation processes in place to regain control of your social channels and prevent lasting damage to your reputation.

Watch Campaign Sentiment

Poorly timed or thought-out social media campaigns can inspire strong negative sentiment that spreads quickly online. Avoid negative sentiment in the first place with strong, research-based campaigns that appeal to your audience. Then if you see negative sentiment spreading, react to it quickly to appease your audience and save face.

Respond Quickly

The real-time nature of social media means your customers expect interaction and answers more quickly than ever before. Fast and proactive responses, especially to celebrities, thought leaders, and big names in your field, can help you both avoid a crisis and build a reputation for excellent customer service.

When used effectively, social media can be a powerful tool for not only building and maintaining your reputation, but also protecting and saving your online reputation in times of crisis. Follow these guidelines to make your social platforms work double-duty for your brand image.

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.

 

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 or offering free trial followers Instagram.

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.

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.

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