Editor's Note: This post was originally published on May 31, 2016, and was updated on February 7, 2020.
Building your brand takes time and resources, and in today’s connected world, the reputation that you’ve worked so hard to build can be tarnished with just a few keystrokes. Your company's information can quickly go viral, which is great - if it’s the kind of information that draws in consumers. Like it or not, what’s said about your company online can make or break your success. Fortunately, utilizing social media and content can help you to improve your digital reputation.
Be a Social Media Maven
Marketers of yesteryear understood the importance of networking. Heading to networking events and attending power-lunches haven’t exactly become a thing of the past, but if you aren’t networking online, it’s unlikely that you are going to get the kind of positive attention that you need to connect with your consumer base. There are several ways that you can take hold of your presence on social media and use it to improve your digital reputation.
It’s a wise idea to claim your brand’s social media profiles and monitor them closely. Having someone hijack your brand through a social media platform can do serious damage to your online reputation. Search for your company name on each of the major social media sites to ensure that nobody is stealing your brand identity.
Choose Your Platforms
Once you have control over your social media profiles, choose the platforms that you should invest the most time in. Some sites will be more beneficial to you than others, depending on your industry and your audience. As popular as Facebook (2.38 billion monthly active users) is, it’s not the only platform you need to focus on. To keep your reputation in check, make sure your company has a presence on Twitter (369 million monthly active users), LinkedIn (over 500 million users), Pinterest (250 million active users), Instagram (500 million people use Instagram every day) and YouTube, Each of your social media profiles should be linked together.
If you want to maintain a healthy digital reputation, you must post frequently, comment when appropriate and reply to other’s comments. By responding quickly and professionally to comments and requests that show up on social media sites, you demonstrate your concern for the opinion of consumers. Just because a comment is negative, doesn’t mean it should be deleted. Responding well to criticism and sharing your action plan for improvement can actually help to improve your digital reputation, if done with care. Saying thank you and offering a heartfelt apology when something unfortunate happens is just as vital in the digital world as it is in person.
Powerful Content and Thought Leadership
Another way to improve your digital reputation is through the strategic use of online content. The more content you publish, the more likely it is that someone who is searching for you company will find the information you want them to find, rather than reputation-damaging material, like negative reviews. This isn’t to say that you should just be posting any old content. When you consistently publish thoughtful, professional and, most importantly, relevant, information, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Basically, by getting the right content out there, you maintain a positive digital reputation while becoming the organization to turn to whenever a consumer has a question. A well-rounded digital content strategy will include mechanisms for regularly publishing blog posts, press releases, videos and infographics.
Yes, Your Blog Will Get Noticed
Your blog will attract attention, as long as you are following the content marketing golden rule. Keep it relevant. Regularly publishing to a company blog will provide a steady flow of information about your brand that will be shared with the public, using a forum that generally attracts more attention than a Website. A blog is a great reputation-builder, because it reflects the thoughts and values of your company, and lets the world know what you have to offer. A blog can also be used to optimize your rankings in the search engines, so that your company gets tied to the buzz-words that attract consumers.
The Danger of Posting and Forgetting
Blogging would be much easier if you could simply post content and move on. If you want to improve your digital reputation, however, you’ll have to follow up. The comment sections of a blog provide an opportunity for consumers to engage in thoughtful conversation, but they can also get filled with negativity, if not closely monitored. The anonymity of the digital environment encourages some to respond to even the smallest bit of dissatisfaction in a very public way. The better established and more popular your blog becomes, the more vulnerable your company will be to negative feedback. Just as with negative social media comments, less than favorable comments on a blog can serve as an opportunity to respond in a way that will reflect positively on your company.
Especially as you are building your digital reputation, getting content published outside of your blog is helpful. Once you feel comfortable, publish content and guest posts to larger, more reliable sources and industry publications. The wider your reach, the more your content will be read and shared with others, which will only improve your digital reputation. Videos usually rank well on Google, and so including this medium in your posting strategy can assist with boosting your online reputation.
Target Your Audience with Quality Content
It’s not enough for content to be well-written. If it doesn’t speak to the audience you are trying to reach, it will do little to improve your online reputation. Content should be original as well as informative. Today’s consumers have a short attention-span, so content must also hook a reader quickly, incorporate attention-grabbing tools like graphics and video and contain information that is up-to-date. When you understand the needs and preferences of your target audience, you’ll be less likely to get that negative feedback that can damage your online reputation.
Becoming a thought leader and developing a stellar digital reputation is not something that happens overnight, even when content and social media marketing is a top priority. Consistency, diversity and a strategic approach are all necessary components to the online strategy that will improve your digital reputation and keep it solid.