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 Accordign to The Top Food Social Media Agency

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.

According to food social media experts you can hire at https://saucecommunications.com, 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.

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 advertising, 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.

Expert Advice as an Online Reputation Management Strategy

Over the last year, the online search world has been pretty drastically shaken up, and Google has changed a lot of its policies to weed out what it has determined are low-quality linkbuilding practices. As such, reputation management used to be a pretty simple game to play, but it has become harder and harder to shape a perfect SERP, and it is taking more effort to do so effectively over the long term.

But the war can still be won. Just because Google has changed its policies doesn’t mean that it is impossible to create a great SERP for your brand. It just means you have to change your strategy. And Google is continually leaning more toward “quality” as the biggest ranking factor. In other words, Google is moving in a direction where they are trying to determine the highest quality websites—not based solely on the number of links that point to them, but rather their overall quality as a website. This means that the best strategy from here on out is simply to have a really awesome website. And if you can have a really awesome website, Google will rank you higher and more people will link to you and publish favorable content about you, creating the great SERP you always wanted to build with your reputation management strategy.

So what does that mean for your strategy? Well, one way to build an awesome website is to become an expert and set yourself apart as a leader in your field. Although that sounds hard, it’s actually much easier than you may think. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1) Blog

Putting a blog on your site is a great way to bolster your online reputation. If you run a business, you are an expert in some sort of field. And there are people out there who want to know about that business and what advice you have to give them. So publish posts about what your company does, tips and advice on best practices, lessons you’ve learned over the years (or months) that you’ve been in business. If you can become a hub of knowledge for people in your industry, you’ll get people quoting your blog, linking to your content, and writing about you in other online publications—all giving you great fodder for your reputation management campaign.

2) Give away your knowledge

People love free stuff, especially if they find it useful and valuable to their lives or professions. Whatever field you are in, you have the opportunity to take your knowledge and turn it into tangible pieces of content that can be shared and posted throughout the internet—excellent for your reputation management. For example, you can create downloadable guides to your industry or publish embeddable infographics or slideshare presentations that give useful advice to people in your industry. As these useful resources are promulgated through the web, your devotees will build links to your website and push your content all over the place, building a great online reputation for you.

3) Guest blog

Its easy to publish resources on your own website, but in order to really create a great reputation online, you’ll need to reach out and start building relationships. One way to do that is through guest blogging. Find blogs that have to do with your industry or profession and offer to write a blog post for them about your experiences. For example, there may not be a lot of websites out there devoted to the cosmetics industry, but you can seek out a number of blogs about professional leadership and management and blog about your experience as a manager or your list of top leadership skills. Then you can mention your company in the post and link that blog post back to your professional profile on your company website. People will then see you as a reliable source and your company as a positive influence.

4) Discuss

Another way to build relationships for reputation management is by participating in professional online forums for your industry. For example, LinkedIn has a number of professional forums for all kinds of industries and professions. Join these groups and be active in them. When you do this, you’ll be building relationships with other professionals who are excited about your industry. And if you can give good advice, you and your company will come to be seen as a resource. When you are seen as a resource, you’ll get more links to your site, people will cite your company online, and more—all adding to the strength of your online reputation management strategy.

The secret to making your brand an online expert is simply getting out there and publishing information and building relationships. You don’t have to be the leader in your field in terms of sales—you simply have to be willing to share your insights with others. And when you can become an online expert in your field, your reputation management strategy will take care of itself.

7 Tips for Reputation Management With Twitter

Just a couple of years ago, many companies balked at the idea that Twitter could be useful for their business—“It’s just a bunch of people talking about what they ate for breakfast, right?” Today, social media marketing is the mainstream, and those who aren’t doing it are missing the train to better customer relationships and higher conversion rates.

But Twitter isn’t just about telling customers that you’re having a sale this Friday or informing them about your latest press release. Twitter is also a great tool for reputation management. Because Twitter allows you to deal directly with the public on a near-realtime basis. and it allows you to monitor all public tweets, it can be a great place to listen to the chatter surrounding your brand, address potential problems, and build positive relationships online.

For starters, here are some great ways you can use Twitter as part of your reputation management strategy and reap the benefits of increased positive sentiment about your brand.

1) Monitor

Twitter is like a giant fire hose of consumer information. People tweet about all kinds of products and services. They tweet about the latest Sony TV they bought or the dress they just got at a steal from a Nordstrom’s sale. If you have any sizable customer base, and that base is fairly tech savvy, chances are that you are being mentioned on Twitter—and you may not even know it. Once you create an account, you can set up a keywords search for mentions of your company and product names. When you see users talking about you you’ll begin to understand how Twitter can be a useful reputation management tool.

2) Identify issues

One of the great weaknesses of Twitter is that people use it to complain about the products and services in their lives. But that also means that, as a reputation management specialist, you can use those complaints to your advantage. If many customers are complain about a new feature you just added to one of your products, you might reconsider that feature. If they’re having trouble loading your website, it’s time to walk down to IT and see what the problem might be.

3) Give thanks

You can also build positive sentiment on Twitter by thanking people who compliment your business and products. Just shoot them a quick “thanks for your kind words.” They’ll be impressed that you’re paying attention and feel personally closer to the brand. You just made a life-long customer.

4) Respond to problems

You’ll gain some great business insights if you monitor Twitter for complaints, but you’ll gain more customers if you actually respond to those complaints. If someone Tweets in frustration about one of your products, send a tweet and ask them how you can help. Point them toward resources and offer to fix the issue yourself. When you can do that, you’ll have changed that customer’s mind about your company and product.

5) Be a resource

Once customers understand that you are online and want to interact with them, you can become a great resource by fielding questions about your products and services. Give your audience the resources to solve their problems and give them tips and tricks to have a better experience with your product. They’ll thank you and recommend you to their friends.

6) Listen

This is similar to “monitor”; however, listening is like monitoring with your heart. Be open and welcoming to your customers. Don’t shrug them off when they ask what you think is a stupid question, but rather encourage them to talk about their problems and issues with you. Be sympathetic and give your brand a human ear.

7) Offer suggestions

When you notice a customer struggling, offer to help before they even ask. Your company has a lot of expertise and knowledge. Offering to help with their issues will go a long way to building trust with the customer and help them form a positive reputation of your company.

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