Whether you represent a trademarked brand, a small start-up or simply yourself as an individual, the chances are that, today, any online user can find at least some information about you through an internet search engine. Add to that the relentless reach of social media channels and it is clear how essential it has become to actively control, craft and manage your online presence.
Entrepreneur, celebrity, business leader or executive… no matter what your role, it is good professional practice to regularly monitor your digital image and work on developing it yourself rather than leaving it to grow organically or, worse still, allowing others to make it up on your behalf. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most practical steps you can take to manage and improve your reputation online.
Embed a large-scale presence on search engines
One way to proactively protect your brand image is to establish a large-scale online presence. This will effectively counterbalance any negative comment or assessment and limit its affect on your business. If a prospective customer encounters criticism of your products or services, for example, but also reads your rich blog content and sees social channels that are full of positive comments from happy customers, it is less likely that the negativity will influence his purchase decisions.
Before you begin to develop an effective strategy to manage your brand reputation, do some research to analyze your current image. What impression is being created for browsers who search for your brand name or words related to your business?
Be cautious when using social networking sites
Although it is necessary to be active on social media, interacting with others and regularly updating content, it is important to be mindful of the way you present yourself and your brand. Participation in forums and digital conversations is an excellent way to connect with likeminded people and potential customers, but do think twice about what you share or publish. Be sure of your information and your sources before diving into any debate and avoid any subjects that may harm rather than build your positive reputation.
Avoid fake news
The emergence and rampant spread of false news, especially through social media channels, has had damaging impacts, including confusing the public and casting shadows on organisations and individuals. In order to sustain a strong presence on the internet, it is essential that you build and continually maintain a reputation of respectability and reliability among your audience. It is often very difficult to differentiate between real and fake information in the online world so, again, it is worth emphasising, be very cautious of any information you may come across and avoid the temptation to post or share anything that might damage your credibility.
Establish a standout voice for your brand
It has become exceptionally crowded in today’s online world. In order to distinguish yourself and be spotted amongst the masses, you need to choose and build on a unique voice that will help your brand be heard in the crowd and will draw positive attention from online audiences. First, think about what it is you want to achieve with your digital presence. This will help you to decide the type of content you should be publishing, and what kind of image you want to project. It is also essential to research the optimum use of different social media channels. Do your homework and find out which platforms your target audience use the most – and at what time or day in the week. Consult with a specialist social media manager to help your brand stand out with an effective social media campaign.
Develop diverse content
In order to get your website to the forefront of search engine results, you will need to diverse, unique and interesting content. It is commonplace for companies to simply formulate “About Us”-type articles, which simply list their services and are then pushed out on their website or social media pages. This typical approach will make your content dated and boring in the public eye. Instead, get creative and catch their attention with fresh, attractive content across diverse platforms – from blogs to websites to social channels. Your content does not always have to be lengthy text either. Audiences are increasingly drawn to visual content so plan and develop short videos, infographics, animation and other modern media to help grow the identity of your brand.
Even if you have an up-to-date website with attractive design and engaging information, your URL will eventually fade from the search engine nets if you do not keep the website pages active by regularly uploading fresh, high quality content.
Think about user needs first
Remember that search engines such as Google determine the ranking of websites and their content based on user experiences and the ability of content to provide useful, appealing and reliable information. Focus your efforts on giving visitors what they need, respond to user requirements and be sure that your website and other digital channels are providing them updated, relevant and innovative content. You will soon reap the benefits when you experience clear improvements in your website’s ranking on search engines.