Today more than ever reputation is built online. I recently presented reputation management at New Media Atlanta and I wanted to share some of it with you.
When you Google your name, do you like what you see? More importantly when they Google (or Bing) your companies name do they like what they see? Your online reputation starts (or stops) with the things they find when they Google your name.
We go online every day to search for restaurants, dentists, car repair shops and much more. When was the last time you Googled your name? Do you know what the search engines find? There are three possible results for what they could find:
- No Results – If they Google you and the results are not found, you have a serious problem. Either you don’t have a web site at all or maybe you just have a terrible SEO firm? If you don’t have a web site at least build a Facebook page or launch a Twitter account so that you show up somewhere online.
- Wrong Results – Your name could be spelled wrong? Or someone else may just have better SEO that you do. Maybe you share the name of your company with someone else – this can make it a bit harder to control your online reputation.
- Negative Stuff – YIKES! You have a horrible review as the third result just under your web site. Maybe it is on YELP or CityDataForum or even worse it is a hate blog?
So, who decides online reputation? Your friends, peers, clients or influencers? How much control do you have?
Building an online reputation is an ongoing process. A castle isn’t built in a day and it needs constant maintenance – your personal and corporate reputation require attention too. Gone are the days of having a static non-interactive web site. You need to be where your customers can find you – whether that is Twitter, Facebook or on a blog.
If you are lucky, your happy customers will help to form your reputation. They will support you by retweeting your tweets, fanning your Facebook page and posting reviews on sites like CityDateForum and Yelp. Unfortunately, there are plenty of unhappy customers out there too. They are likely to turn to the Internet to complain. Not only does it provide them with a BIG platform, but they can do it anonymously if they chose.
There is a statistic that 2% of customers will never be happy. . . no matter what you do. We call this the 2% rule and I like to refer to this person unhappy Joe. Poor Joe – I know you know him. Maybe he lives next door to you or you ride with him on the train to work? Well, I’m sure you have seen Joe’s MO! When you Google your name and see that hate blog or hate site as your number 3 result, well now you know Joe.
Bad results for your company are certainly not what your buyers want to see. So, how do you fix negative results? How do you defend the corporate castle? Basically, you fill up your results page with positive ones instead. This is an ongoing process of creating a strategy for what you want to see on page one, building social media sites, engaging in social networks and supporting the entire program through social media optimization and search engine optimization.
Get a dragon to defend your castle, build your program. Here are the secret ingredients to success:
- Your Web site – make sure it is built correctly and optimized. It should be your top search result. Maybe even the top 2 results with site links.
- Build a Blog – not only will your well-built blog be a top 5 referral source for your website, but it provides your company with a more conversational approachable voice.
- Start blogging on other sites – consider industry sites in your mix. Never underestimate the power of a well-optimized blog. Many of these sites act as search engines to referring traffic to your site, and who doesn’t want more traffic?
- Social Networks – figure out where your customers are and then launch pages to interact with them. Consider Twitter, Facebook, Ning, Flickr, YouTube and others in your mix.
- Online Public Relations – often an overlook tactic for reputation management, but an easy one to integrate if you already write and distribute press releases.
Now that you are on the way to having “no Joe” results, don’t forget that Joe is still out there. Once you have achieved “no Joe” results, you will need to constantly maintain your castle to keep Joe outside the moat.
Take control of your reputation before someone else does!