Your company works hard to establish a favorable reputation in the industry and with your consumers. But if you’re not putting in the effort to establish a favorable reputation online, then your real-world bottom line may suffer.
To get the best performance from your online marketing—i.e., increased online-generated leads and sales, increased visibility and real-world word of mouth referrals—you need to proactively build your brand reputation, not just reactively protect it.
Boosting Your Online Reputation Is More than Reputation Management
We frequently discuss reputation management; it’s an important aspect of customer service, and customer service is marketing. However, reputation management only maintains or preserves the reputation you already have. It is reactive in nature—it involves the actions you take in response to reviews, customer complaints and other press your company may have received.
Where reputation management is mostly concerned with your company’s relationship with existing customers, reputation building is about acquiring new ones. To convert prospective consumers into actual consumers, to push repeat buyers into raving (unpaid) promoters, you need to proactively boost your online reputation.
A few strategies to try include:
Create Content that Everyone Wants…and Wants to Share
Nearly every reputation-boosting strategy derives from this one. In addition to quality products and services—the stuff that drives your business’ profits—you need to offer free informative and/or entertaining content that builds brand awareness, consumer preference and brand loyalty.
And the types of content online users really want to consume are:
Videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine, so there is huge potential to expand your reach. Facebook videos also enjoy a significantly higher share rate than text-only posts. And, video allows you to more comprehensively represent your brand because users get visuals and voice for a more complete brand persona, which is layered on top of the actual message/information your video delivers.
Podcasts. Not every time or place is conducive to video watching, but many of those times are ideal for listening—e.g., in the car, on a plane, during a workout, etc.—and that makes podcasts an ideal format to share valuable content, like your expert opinion on the state of your industry, tips on getting the most benefit from your products or services, exposure to other thought leaders who inform your company values, culture and product development.
Long-form content. It’s one of the paradoxes of online user behavior—they want easy-to-digest content, and for many content creators, that’s translated into short content. But consumers often know that the brevity of pages may come at the cost of valuable information. So, they want the whole story, the in-depth analysis, the complete case study.
Although it should go without saying, we’ll say it again: quality content that will get shared is content that provides value to the users. Push marketing does not add value. Mudslinging about the competition does not add value. The content that helps them become more savvy consumers, saves them time and/or money or otherwise increases the quality of their lives is.
Position Yourself as a Visible Authority
One way to get an edge on your competitors and compel prospective consumers to choose your brand is to demonstrate your authority within your niche/industry. And for online users, authority is demonstrated by:
- Offering valuable content (see above strategy #1)
- Earned mentions (citations, references and backlinks) because of your content and your credentials
So, to build an authoritative brand:
Get Quoted. Your business leadership should have a face—some figure who can speak for your company as an industry authority. Whether it’s your CEO, COO or other brand ambassador, get this person “out there” where they can offer journalists and other media moguls as well as live audiences “sound bites” that make your name stick in the minds of your prospective consumers. (Businesses can do this old-fashioned way by making human contacts, but there are also online services for which you can register as a “source” so that journalists go to you when they need information or opinions on issues affecting your industry.)
Flaunt Your “Featured In’s”. When your brand and/or brand ambassador has been noticed by a news network, popular blogger or other professional organization within your industry, make that visible on your home page with a “Featured In” section. Give your viewers easily recognizable logos (with links) to see where you’ve been mentioned and/or where your authoritative contributions appear.
Of course, do not ignore the tried and true methods of establishing authority—BBB ratings, Angie’s list and similar directories and recommended vendor/service providers by trusted industry organizations.
Leverage Others’ Authority for Your Brand
The “Get Quoted” and “Flaunt Your Featured In’s” are two strategies to help you get noticed by online influencers and popular bloggers…and that gets you visibility in front of some massive followings. Plus, online mentions often come with links back to your own quality, shareable content…and that boosts your SEO performance.
But there’s no reason to stop there. If you are offering products, make sure they can be found (and purchased) on trusted ecommerce sites…and there’s none bigger than Amazon. Amazon wants to be the world’s one-stop online shop for everything, so they are happy to add credible vendors. They offer a number of online helps to get started like this guide.
Maintain Your Website
Remember that most off-site mentions will prompt users to visit your website and/or social media channels. Your online properties need to provide a user experience that reinforces the idea of you as an industry authority and a business that cares about relationships with your consumers. That means website maintenance and regularly freshening up content is a reputation-boosting strategy…as is reputation management (and now we’ve come full circle).
If you need help building and maintaining your online reputation so you can focus on running your business, contact SonicSEO.com.