Last Update: March 18, 2015
Digital communication–the electronic transmission of information–has grown to be an essential medium in our hyper-connected world. So much so that your business and brand reputation often depends on the story you tell and what others say about it online.
To reap the quickest reward, start with social media monitoring to track and assess mentions of your business online. Stay connected to what is happening around you and within your industry. The reality is: What begins as a small online rant from a disgruntled customer could become a bigger issue that requires reputation management services down the road.
If you are looking to develop a stronger online brand, there are few key tactics that can help you become more effective in your digital communications, change perceptions and build a stronger brand. Here are five effective ways to manage and improve your online brand.
1. Google yourself and your business, regularly.
We all spend a significant amount of online time googling subjects, people, places and things. But what will someone find when they Google you?
Every entrepreneur and small business owner should “Google” themselves and their brands on a consistent basis–at least monthly. Pay close attention to first-page results and several pages deeper into the search. This is the quickest brand management tactic to reinforce and optimize.
2. Build social media relationships.
Social networking–building relationships with people who share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections–is extremely important in today’s digital age. Start developing social media relationships by curating content that is aligned with your beliefs and brand.
Add a touch of personalization and spark new conversations with people and brands you would like to connect with. Building strong relationships online also maximizes social proof — a surprisingly positive side effective of productive online communication.
Start social network communications from a blogger’s point of view — find a relevant point of interest in online content and comment regularly with valuable insights.
3. Participate in relevant and niche online communities.
Locate the top online communities for your industry–or where your prospective customers are–and start providing immediate value. Building a profile on niche online communities can help strengthen your business and brand. However, start by taking a “I’m here to help you,” approach. If you only join online communities for personal benefit other members will notice fairly quickly.
4. Focus on creating value by giving.
How much of your expertise or products and services should you offer for free? That depends.
Although it is a controversial topic, most successful small businesses know the secret to early success — giving. When you give away your talents, be sure to build in back-end value to a) learn more about customers, b) grow brand awareness c) build your email subscription list, etc. Always tie your giving back to your marketing goals and consider it a worthy investment that has revenue potential and online reputation benefits.
5. Respond gracefully to negative comments.
What happens when you find a negative comment posted online about you or your business? For most entrepreneurs apprehension, anger or anxiety sets in — most people do not know how to respond to criticism without causing more harm than good.
First, track what is being said about you or your brand. If the comment is factual, apologize. Taking the time and say you are sorry can go a long way toward rebuilding trust and transparency. Also consider, taking the conversation offline — via phone, email, etc.
In contrast, if online comments are dishonest, share the facts and don’t retaliate. Many times, negative comments originate from false facts or confusion. Don’t be afraid to clear the air, present correct facts and facilitate a positive dialogue. Ultimately, this may not work if you are dealing with online trolls — someone who insists on posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages online. If that is the case, take the appropriate legal measures if someone is purposefully slandering you or your business.
Defamatory or disparaging comments made on the internet can come back to haunt the culprit. No one should be emboldened by thinking they are anonymous, according to Lawyers.com.
Ultimately, stay connected and listen to constructive feedback across online platforms that are relevant to you and your brand. The importance of social media is such that when you practice connecting online in your daily routine, you will find that not only your reputation improves, but indirectly your conversion rates may be given a boost as well.
How do you manage your online reputation? Let me know in the comments section below.
Maulik Solanki is an SEO professional, tech lover and blogger who enjoys sharing his perspective on social media, technology, search engines. Maulik also writes on behalf of AG Infosoft a search engine optimization (SEO) company.