Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2020, and has been updated with additional information and newer resources in February 2022.
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. And whether you like it or not, what’s said about your company online can make or break your success. Fortunately, utilizing social media marketing 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 hasn’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 is (2 billion monthly active users), it’s not the only platform you need to be visible on.
To keep your reputation in check, make sure your company has a presence on Twitter (319 million users), LinkedIn (over 774 million users), Pinterest (459 million active global users), Instagram (will reach 1.1 billion users in 2022), and YouTube (the 2nd most visited website in the world). Look at each platform's demographics and see what makes the most sense for your business.
If you want to maintain a healthy digital reputation, you must post frequently, comment when appropriate, and reply to others’ 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.
And it's important to remember that just because a comment is negative, that 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 your 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.
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 keywords that attract consumers.
The Danger of Posting and Forgetting
Blogging would be much easier if you could simply post content and move on. But if you want to improve your digital reputation, 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. 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. YouTube (which has over 2 billion users) and video are a huge opportunity, and 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 shorter and shorter attention span, so the 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.
Tips to Fight Bad Online Reputation
So now that we know the value that a good brand reputation brings to a business, in particular to helping businesses retain and gain new clients or customers, here are some tips you can use to fight a bad online reputation.
1. Respond Quickly
Treat comments or messages on your social media channels as client queries. Taking too long to respond to comments gives off a bad impression, and could risk you losing followers and supporters. So the best way to tackle comments (both positive and negative!) on your social media is head-on: respond as soon as possible to comments, messages, and other feedback you receive.
2. Avoid Being Aggressive
While not everyone's comments on your social media channels will be positive, it is always important to keep calm and to respond professionally. Responding to your followers less aggressively can calm down an upset follower and help to show that your brand cares.
And make sure to apologize for any bad feelings that the commenter may feel, and explain the steps they can take (and that your company can complete) to help them to resolve these problems.
3. Social Monitoring
Monitoring your social media accounts can ensure that you'll know immediately when there's any activity in your social media profiles. If you receive negative comments, for example, you will be alerted right away and your team can take action to address them. Using digital reputation management apps such as SimilarWeb and BuzzSumo can help you with your online reputation management, and help you respond to comments swiftly.
Benefits of Managing your Digital Reputation
There are more benefits to managing your digital reputation than just increasing your number of followers. Here are some advantages that come from maintaining your brand’s digital reputation.
Tell the Story the Way You Want
Social media lets you tell your side of the story. You can use posts to craft your brand story, show what your brand stands for, and highlight the causes that your brand believes in. Social media gives you a platform to show the world what you want them to see, and it can help you to grow your brand awareness.
Builds Credibility and Trust
Building your reputation through Google ranking and reviews can help you to grow your reputation. Potential customers want to follow a company that they can rely on and trust. And when your webpage ranks highly and when your business has a lot of positive reviews, you show people that your brand is reputable and worth trusting.
Reinforces Your Brand
A good digital reputation can also increase your brand reach. As customers turn more and more to online searches to look for businesses to buy from and work with, it's imperative that your brand shows up on the search results.
Keeping your content marketing fresh, your search engine keywords up-to-date, and increasing your digital reputation can ultimately help your website rank better and show up in more of those valuable search results.
Higher placement in the Google search results and loads of good reviews can also help you to earn higher revenues. Creating an online reputation management strategy will help you to gain better ratings, more social popularity, and followers, which all help increase sales.
How to Safeguard Your Digital Reputation
1. Google your Company
The first thing is the most obvious—start by googling your company and your brand name at least once a month. Review your results page - where do you rank? Are your competitors showing up? Are you seeing something you don't like? Put yourself in your customer's shoes - what would they think if they saw this results page?
If you're not happy with what you're seeing, then it might be time to create more content that will rank higher on Google. Try things like blog posts, videos, or SEO-friendly social media profiles.
2. Set up a Google Alert
Google Alerts notify the user when your business name is being used or any activities linked to your company. Set up an alert that will let you know as soon as your brand shows up somewhere you don't expect.\
3. Think Before you Post
Always think about your online reputation when you post on social media. Do not post anything that will conflict with the message of your brand. Avoid posting negative comments about a competitor or former client.
Anticipating Future Challenges to our Digital Reputation
There are always going to be challenges when establishing a digital reputation. Create a digital reputation strategy that contains management crisis options when problems arise. Having a plan with options ready when something goes wrong is going to ensure you're not panicking when you hit your first bump in the road.
Digital Reputation FAQs
Ready to boost your digital reputation? Looking to learn more? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive:
What is a "digital footprint"?
Your digital footprint is any information about you that can be found on social media. Information includes the content you publicly post, the sites and pages you follow, and the posts you like or comment on.
How do you get a good digital reputation?
To gain a good digital reputation you can follow, post, comment, and like social media pages and content that is favorable to your company. Avoid negative reviews and bad-mouthing competitors.
What is a good reputation?
A good online reputation is when your company receives good reviews, a high ranking on Google, and a high level of trust and credibility.
How can you protect your digital footprint and reputation?
Do a Google search of your company regularly and ensure your name and brand are always represented in the best light.
How does digital marketing help build your online reputation?
Digital marketing boosts your brand image by increasing the number of likes and follows you receive on posts, which in return can help you to rank better in search results.
What happens when your business has a good online reputation?
A good reputation leads to an increase in social media followers, sales, and trust from existing and new clients.
What’s online reputation management (ORM)?
ORM is a strategy that helps to build and maintain a user's reputation. ORM includes using digital strategies such as online reviews and social media content to help boost a company's reputation.
Is managing your online reputation necessary?
Yes, managing your online reputation can help you to reduce negative reviews or bad publicity. It can safeguard your brand, as well as boost its credibility.
Becoming a thought leader and developing a stellar digital reputation is not something that happens overnight, even when content and social media marketing are a top priority. But when you focus on consistency, diversity, and a strategic approach—all the necessary components to the online strategy—you will improve your digital reputation and keep it solid.