Joan Jettmight not have cared about her bad reputation, but in the era of Web 2.0, you’d better! It’s critical for companies to proactively create and maintain a stellar online brand reputation. Why? Because forever gone are the days when external audiences merely visit your Web site and trade show booth or read your marketing collateral. Customers, partners, prospects and job candidates are using a wide range of online resources to assess your company and your ability to deliver on your brand promises. Thanks to the boom in social media and interactive technologies anyone with a broadband connection is just a few clicks away from discovering what others are saying about your business. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever before to proactively monitor what is being said and formulate strategies to manage your online reputation. To effectively create a positive brand and ensure your reputation is not left to chance, be mindful of the three “M”s of proactive reputation management:
Monitor what’s being said. The ability to control your corporate online reputation is largely a matter knowing what is being said and then asserting control over your online identity. Tools such as socialmention.com provide insight to user-generated content such as Twitter updates, blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, etc., enabling users to track conversations across all social media platforms. It also ranks each mention including the last time it was posted and with what frequency, and allows users to export information in a CSV/Excel format. Other third-party applications such as Tweetdeck and Trendistic enable you to set alerts and monitor trends. Develop keyword lists of brands, products, executive names and competitive keywords and set Google Alerts to quickly uncover threats and opportunities. By knowing what is being said – positive or negative – you can respond appropriately, control the message and ensure your brand’s reputation remains intact.
Message effectively. A key component of preserving your online reputation is creating and disseminating distinct messages that differentiate your products and services and reinforce your brand value. Understanding how to leverage search engine optimization (SEO) will enable you to push favorable articles and blog posts to the top of search results, while diminishing the prominence of negative or unwanted information. To enhance visibility of positive messages, creating new, positive content such as articles, white papers, press releases and social media campaigns that are peppered with keywords can build positive brand awareness and help you leverage major search engines and social media tools to your advantage.
Manage the process. In an era where every employee is potentially empowered to be a spokesperson for your company, having a central point of management and company playbook to help orchestrate social media efforts will ensure consistency and reputation protection. After all, employees may inadvertently share proprietary information, which can affect stock prices, thwart business deals or damage customer relationships. By consolidating the communication function to make sure experts are “minding the shop,” you’ll have more predictable outcomes while enjoying the ready made advantages of social media and Web 2.0 technologies.
Well regarded companies aren’t shying away from online communication tools and neither should you. It’s a means of attracting investors, new customers and quality talent while furthering your company’s brand messages. Marketers need to realize that reputation management is not just an area of focus for corporate communications but an instrumental component in building brand equity, delivering shareholder value and enhancing your overall image to the marketplace. A strong corporate reputation is often correlated to stronger business performance and better financial results. With a payoff that great, isn’t protecting your corporate reputation something you should care about?