Tag Archives: online reputation management

The Rapid Evolution of Reputation Management Strategies

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The prototypical reputation management strategy is undergoing a rapid evolution as the means in which businesses communicate with their target markets are increasingly gravitating toward social media sites. It was not long ago that the standard online reputation management campaign, at its foundation, was very much like the public relations format based in traditional media outlets such as print, radio and television.

In both cases, while the mode of content delivery was different, the basic strategy would be to create a large enough suite of positive content to dilute the existing negative content surrounding the subject and then see to it that this content got in front of as many people as possible. In the traditional version, this content could be distributed en mass through all the same venues that contained negative information with the objective of drowning out the damaging material.

In the online version, the suite of positive content would distributed and then search engine optimized to occupy as many of the top listings on the search engine results pages as possible. Much like traditional PR, the objective was the same; bury negative material with positive content. In both situations, the reputation manager would do the talking while the public listened, with little in the way of engagement between the two parties.

This format of controlling what the public and consumers see and don’t see has now been rendered as basically irrelevant due to the advent of social media, which has changed the publishing of content from a one-way street to one where user generated content can be published by anyone with computer/smart phone and internet access. Additionally, the search engines are looking to signals from social media sites as true reference points for the credibility and relevance of businesses in determining how they rank on their results pages. This is an extremely important issue in reputation management as search engines strive to surface the pages that are the most relevant to their users’ search terms, whether highly ranked listings are positive or negative for the related business.

In this new paradigm, consumers have as much or more influence over the purchasing decisions of their followers as the businesses trying to sell to them and the process of branding is increasingly dependent on the conversations that occur between members of a business’ social media community. Engagement is now the name of the game, thus necessitating that reputation management strategies evolve to include a variety of social media platforms, as well as the two-way communication that serves as the foundation of this medium.

Social Media Mistakes that can Keep You from Reaching Your Reputation Management Objectives

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Despite social media’s expanding role in terms of executing successful reputation management initiatives, many businesses are finding out that just showing up and creating a company page on numerous network sites is not going to help them reach their objectives. While this basic misperception can be corrected quickly, there are several common social media mistakes that prevent businesses from reaching their reputation management objectives over the long term.

These mistakes include:

* Spreading social media initiatives over too many networks – For many business owners the temptation is to set up accounts on every “hot” network to try to cover as much ground as possible. While this thought makes sense on the surface, the reality is that most businesses don’t have the resources to operate successfully on more than a few social media networks, especially as they are just getting started. Instead, launch your social media campaign by selecting small number of networks that will provide the best platform for your business and allocate the resources to ensure optimal performance.
* Losing interest – All reputation management campaigns take time to start showing results and the social media aspect will be no different. Remember, you’re engaging in your selected networks to establish a presence and build a relationship with your existing and potential customers. Your reputation management campaign will be a part of this process, all of which will take time to build. Losing interest and either neglecting your networks or changing strategies before they have a chance to play out will leave your reputation management initiatives in a perpetual state of stasis and/or rebuilding.
* Failure to communicate – Building your community and experiencing the benefits as your network follows your business, engages with it, and shares your content with their networks requires communication skills on a variety of levels. From the second a visitor first lands on one of your social media pages, the quality of the messaging you have set up will play a major role in whether that visitor decides to stick around or not. Having the wrong people in place for marketing, content creation, and interacting with your market can work against everything you have worked for by planting seeds of doubt that your business is the best solution for your customers’ needs.

Getting your reputation management initiatives in social media off to a good start requires both an understanding of what to expect and the avoidance of commonly made mistakes. By developing a strategy that works within your budget, committing enough time to see it through, and effectively communicating with your message, your business will be well on the way to experiencing the growing array of benefits provided in the social media arena.

Reputation Management: 3 Types of Posts that You Should Think About Before Going Public on Social Media Platforms

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While social media sites continue to provide an increasing number of opportunities for businesses, they also present the opportunity for businesses to ignite their own reputation management issues. One the ways in which these issues arise is by posting things that should never be posted, whether they go public in the heat of the moment or as an off-handed comment.

With the amount of trouble that can be generated by a single post, taking a step back to think about how it may be received is the best way to avoid getting into a self-made reputation management debacle. Here are 3 of the most dangerous types of posts that should definitely be contemplated before making them public on social media sites:

  1. The heated counter-attack – These posts are usually written in response to critical comments posted on social media sites relating to the subject company, its products, services, employees, etc. The problem with a counter-attacking post to these types of comments is that it automatically reflects poorly on the business and positions the person who made the complaint as a victim, no matter how abusive the original comment may have been. Sharing of the business’ post can then ensue, making the business look like a bully to its customers and providing evidence that the person making the complaint was right all along.
  2. Posts on divisive topics – This type of discourse may be posted in response to events in the news or just because someone feels like expressing an opinion. Either way, commenting on divisive issues on the company’s social media pages is probably a 50/50 proposition where one half of those who see the post agree with it and move on while the other half becomes offended, put off, or angered to the point where they initiate plans to boycott your business.
  3. Flippant and/or condescending replies – These types of comments may not start the kind of reputation management firestorm that the first two types of replies are capable of but they still reflect poorly on the business that posts them. That being said, posting these types of replies on a consistent basis can paint a picture of a company that really does not care about its customers, a reputation management problem in and of itself.

Many reputation management issues in social media are of a self-inflicted nature. Taking a minute to think about how these types of comments will reflect back on the company can help to avoid making the kind of mistakes that can go viral in a bad way.

Reputation Management: Protecting Virtual Assets

Statistics show that searches which are specific to the name of a company, product, and/or service represent somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of all organic search traffic that ends up clicking through to a website. These types of specific searches are often associated with the late stages of the buy cycle, where the decision has been made and the searcher is simply trying to decide where the purchase will be made.

These late cycle searches typically result in the highest conversion rates, the longest time spent on a site, and the most pages per visit. These are searches that are paying your bills and making a large contribution to your bottom line. It’s surprising then that these searches are often ignored when it comes to protecting the company’s online reputation.

Leaving these search terms unprotected often results in nightmare reputation management scenarios when negative content shows up on the search engine results pages (SERPs) of branded search terms. These links can include unfavorable reviews from websites companies such as Yelp, Google Places, or any of the multitudes of sites where consumer feedback can be posted and seen by anyone on the web. If you consider how valuable these search terms are, they actually become some of the most important assets of an online business. As such, they should be protected and here’s how to do it:

  • Building social channels around your brand – This is a quick and relatively easy way to populate your brand’s SERP with content that you control. These channels include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter but don’t stop there.
  • Build your fan base – Local businesses are increasingly viewed at offsite user review sites like Yelp to determine where consumers are going to spend their money. While asking for reviews may seem awkward and is frowned upon by these sites, you can let happy customers know that your business is listed on those sites with buttons on your site that link to the conversations on these sites.
  • Optimize your web assets – Don’t miss the opportunity to optimize your social media pages, offsite blog, etc. with your most lucrative search terms.

You’ve probably insured the valuable physical assets of your company. Now it’s time to protect the assets that are driving high converting traffic to your site. For more information, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Googles Book About You

As the saying goes, “You can’t read a book by its cover”. Maybe there should be a new asterisk added that states, “Unless Google writes the book”. That is increasingly the case as people go to Google to check out the past of people they may have a personal interest in, they’re contemplating to hire, or thinking of doing business with.

You can see for yourself by entering your name as search term in Google. This is actually a good thing to do anyway, just so you can get out ahead of anything that may be less than flattering. The results will depend on how common your name is. If it’s an uncommon name you’ll probably see your related results. If you name is relatively common, refine the search by adding terms like your hometown, school, employer, etc. Either way, you’ll probably find links ranging somewhere in between the good and the ugly.

While most of the links may be innocuous like social media profiles, you may have something in there that’s going to cost you in one way or another. While you may have forgotten about certain things in your life, the internet never does. If you feel that what you’re seeing is going to work against you, it may be time to consider some reputation management to rewrite the book that Google is showing to the world. The purpose of this re-write will be to push the negative content off of page one with an ultimate goal of pushing it lower than page three.

Depending on where the negative content originated, the process of re-writing your Google book could be relatively simple or could take some professional management. Either way, the primary focus of your reputation management campaign will most likely focus on the creation of online content which is linked to your name.

There are many ways to go about this including participating in social media sites, creating a personal blog, and/or submitting articles to directories like EzineArticles and HubPages. The key in creating a blog and/or articles is to remember that this new content is what is going to be seen when new searches for your name are done.

For more information on your personal reputation management, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Becoming Your own Worst Enemy in Reputation Management

Jeff Cox, a Deputy Attorney General in Indiana is the latest example of people that blow themselves up on social media sites. His mistake? Mr. Cox retweeted a Mother Jones report on the protests occurring in Wisconsin over bargaining rights for state employees, which by itself wouldn’t have been a problem. What was a problem was that he added “Use live ammunition.” to the retweet. Mother Jones responded with an article headlined “Use Live Ammunition against Wisconsin protesters.” The result for Mr. Cox was that he was fired by the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

When challenged by Mother Jones about his retweet Mr. Cox replied “It was satirical, I was only trying to make people think.” Well, that didn’t fly very well either, especially in light of the recent shootings in Arizona. The suggestion from a deputy attorney general to use live ammunition on protestors and the flippant remarks that followed from him generated a firestorm of commentary involving Mr. Cox and the Mother Jones article.

In blowing up his online reputation with an ill-advised tweet and non-answers to questions from Mother Jones, Mr. Cox not only cost himself a job, he’s now got a link about the whole ordeal on the search engines which will be seen by anyone that searches for him. This will likely include future employers, rivals, etc. The link is likely to have a strong degree of staying power due to the amount of links which went back to the Mother Jones article. While the site doesn’t carry the authority that CNN does, for example, the Mother Jones link is going to be a tough one to displace on the search engine results pages even under the most rigorous of reputation management campaigns.
If this had happened prior to the advent of social media sites, this episode probably would have taken place in the form of an email and would not have seen the light of day unless it was leaked. Instead, Mr. Cox’s retweet was on display for the world to see the second it was posted. It’s a new game out there. Before posting anything, assume that everyone in your life both present and future is going to see it. It’s tough enough out there without being your own worst enemy. For more information, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

A Reputation Management Checklist

Reputation Management is essentially SEO done on a massive scale. The difference between the two is that the objective of an SEO campaign is to push links up in the search rankings toward page one while the goal for reputation management is to push targeted links down past page three. Unlike the laws of gravity, in the case of reputation management it’s much more difficult to push things down rather than up.

What follows is a checklist of reputation management activities designed to push damaging content away from where searchers’ eyes can see it.

  1. Evaluate keywords that will return the negative content when used for search. These are the terms that will be optimized so that negative content will be pushed down in the rankings.
  2. Create quality onsite content. If you don’t have the time or skill to write quality copy that is search engine optimized, outsource the work to your reputation management firm, if you’ve hired one.
  3. Create a series of press releases covering positive events in your business or industry. Be sure these are search engine optimized with targeted search terms as well.
  4. Start a blog. Publish informational posts that target the keywords you need to rank for. This should be very professional in quality and presentation so don’t hesitate to outsource the work if need be.
  5. Get social. Social media profiles tend to rank well and quickly. Incorporate your keywords for SEO purposes.
  6. Start building pages at Squidoo, HubSpot, and other directories. A little article marketing can build inbound links to your site and blog and even get ranked themselves.
  7. Build links between the properties you’ve set up.
  8. Expand your media options. Creating a podcast or video interview and posting it your website, YouTube and other sites can get shared, build some buzz, drive traffic back to your site.

There are many other strategies to employ in a reputation management campaign but these will provide a solid foundation to build from and get results. Depending on the nature of the negative content, it could make sense to bring in professional assistance to get things in order. For more information, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

5 Easy Steps Toward Protecting your Online Business

As online reputation management evolves as a necessity for companies doing business on the web, taking proactive measures can keep you ahead of the curve while keeping negative content at bay.

Here are 5 steps to protecting your business’ brands online:

  1. It’s likely that you’ll be seen first online which equates to making a good first impressions. Take look on a regular basis so that you can see what people searching for your products/services see. If there is room for improvement, start making changes as soon as possible. Changes can include joining social networks, doing press releases, writing articles, and posting blogs.
  2. Know your audience – Understanding your target visitor will give you insight into how they’re searching for you and what they experience during that search. Make further improvements as you move through the process as seen by your audience. This activity helps protect and build your brand while also increasing sales.
  3. Push negative search results off of the front pages of the search engines – Negative search results, especially if there are a few of them, can cause severe damage to your brand and your bottom line. Pushing content past page three in search results will keep it out of the view of 99% of searches. Create search engine optimized content to start occupying the top rankings and the negative content will begin a downward drift. The further down it goes the less chance it has of being seen by your potential customers.
  4. Set alerts to track what is being posted about your company – Free tools abound here, with one of the easiest ones being Google Alerts. The service alerts you whenever the search terms you have selected are indexed by Google. This is a great way to stay on top of news stories, comments, blogs, and articles.
  5. Develop a social media presence – Social media sites offer countless ways to participate with your audience, post content, and get featured for results when a web search is performed.

These steps can help you to proactively protect and build your brand. For more on managing your company’s online reputation, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Protecting and Repairing Your Online Reputation – Reputation Management

There are basically two aspects of online reputation management; protection and repair. Ask anybody that has been in repair mode and they’ll tell you they should have invested way more in the protection aspect than they did. Monitoring is the first step toward protecting your online reputation but there is always more that can be done.

Protection measures:

  • Beyond listening to what is being said, assess what you have put out on the web yourself. People hurt their own reputations all the time with what seems like innocent pictures, stories, comments, etc. Just remember that in the eyes of a stranger you are who Google says you are. Whether that stranger is a potential investor, business partner, etc., starting off in hole because of something you posted can and should be avoided if at all possible.
  • Publish content on your area of expertise. It’s easy and will likely rank on the search engines when people search for your name. A blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and a LinkedIn profile is a good start.
  • Keep your personal information to a minimum. You’re not going to gain much by going full disclosure but the information can come back at you so don’t volunteer more than is necessary.

 

Repair measures:

  • The same type content you would publish in protection mode can work to push the rankings negative content back off of the front pages. Publish regularly and keep your content meaningful and positive.
  • If you screwed up and yelled at a customer or something like that, just say you’re sorry. Don’t try to push your side of the story, it will just extend the battle. An apology is one of the fastest ways to end problem situation.
  • If there is negative content that people are going to see, be upfront about it. This gives you a degree of control by getting your account out first while being honest about the issue.

Keep in mind that attacks on people’s reputations were going on long before Google came on the scene. The same things that worked then, like honesty, humility, self-respect and common sense work online as well. For more information on managing your reputation, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Metrics to Measure Your Online Reputation – Reputation Management

In many ways, a company’s reputation management is the post-purchase equivalent of what branding is to pre-purchase. While a company can market their way to branding objectives, a reputation has to be earned. As branding carries less cachet in the online world, building a solid reputation should be your long-term priority.

While measuring your company’s online reputation is not an exact science, there are a few metrics which can help you determine where you stand in the public eye.

  • Google’s PageRank – This platform calculates the value of inbound links originating from authority sites, which stands as a measure of your reputation from these respected sites. This is a much better measurement than counting total inbound links which may not carry any implied trust.
  • Facebook fans – When people affiliate themselves as fans of organizations, their news feed displays their “is a fan of” status to their peers. While many companies give small incentives for becoming a fan, this measure can still stand up as a measure of a company’s online reputation.
  • Twitter follower numbers - Twitter follower numbers can be gamed but if you’re not manipulating your follower numbers they should be a fairly accurate representation of your online reputation.
  • RSS feeds – These are a useful measure of an online reputation due to the fact that recipients must opt-in to receive them. Additionally, an opt-in must be have some trust that they’re going to get quality content and aren’t going to get bombed with spam. The opt-in nature of the feeds also means that the numbers are difficult to manipulate, making them a solid metric.
  • Repeat visitors to the site – Having been there previously, repeat visitors are an indication that their experience was positive the last time they visited the site. As your website’s reputation improves, it should naturally draw an increasing amount of repeat visitors.
  • Bookmarks – Web users will bookmark resources that provide value so the number of them is a good indicator of trust. The rise of public social bookmarking services has made it easier than ever to track this metric.