The online world adds a new dimension to your business and brand and ultimately your reputation, writes Angely Grecia from online media monitoring company, Meltwater.
Because your brand can be perceived differently by multiple audiences (who are very much online – in fact, there are three billion active users of the internet worldwide) – it’s definitely worth thinking about adding online reputation management to your new year resolution(s).
So how do you manage your reputation online? It’s about making sure you present your brand clearly through all of your online channels such as your website, blog, email communications, forums, Twitter and other social media platforms.
First impressions count
What first impression do you want your brand to portray? … Time’s up. It takes less than 50 milliseconds to form a first impression according to a study by Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. First impressions give way to a ‘halo effect’, for example, if your website looks good, that assessment is transferred to its functionality. You only have milliseconds to persuade customers that it’s trustworthy, efficient and can do what is expected. If you clutter your website with too many visual elements, a mixed tone of voice or no call to action, you risk losing their attention.
Own it and embrace it
Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. And this is why your brand is often synonymous with your reputation. This extends to every aspect of your business – how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear and what they say, your e-mail signature, everything. I often hear that anything to do with a company’s brand is the responsibility of marketing and PR teams. This is every employee’s responsibility because your brand can be impacted and perceived in many ways every time you and your staff interact with clients, prospects, partners, media, shareholders, and the general public. Go back to basics and ensure your team understands your company’s mission, vision, values and goals so you can all believe, live and breathe this.
Unite and conquer
People are converging over multiple online channels. It’s important to streamline and manage your brand consistently for every online channel you use. A good place to start is to review and assess aspects of each online channel such as reach, popularity, interactions, level of engagement, effectiveness of messaging, audience demographics and whether there are any conflicts or confusion. Try not to use all online channels for the sake of it – be strategic and decide where your brand needs to be seen regularly, what messages work and really understand who your influencers are.
Building a circle of influence online can have a positive impact on your brand. We all know about the power of influence and it travels a lot faster than ever because of online channels. This can be valuable and also detrimental to your brand if you don’t proactively manage this. People who follow brands on social media most likely already like the product so it’s important your strategy should involve posts that speak to fans as people. Converse with them in a timely manner and always be professional and courteous (no matter what was said). Partake in discussions, offer a professional opinion on the topic and avoid being too ‘salesy’ – only recommend your product or service when you feel it can solve a problem or encourage the discussion to move forward. Be sure to acknowledge positive comments, and attempt to respond to complaints and issues quickly. Build and nurture your ‘brand ambassadors’ and let them spread the good word for your brand.
Listen, pay attention
It’s important to keep track of conversations, interactions and positive and negative sentiment online so you can join those discussions, answer queries, dispel myths, and actually see if your strategy is effective. There are media monitoring tools – such as Meltwater Buzz for social media, and Meltwater News for media coverage – that let you view and analyse perceptions and activity around your brand online and determine ROI. You can turn conversations into customers and customers into brand advocates through social media engagement. Successful engagement is often attributed to retweets, shares, reach, clicks and various other influence metrics.
The key to effectively managing your brand online is to embrace it. A proactive approach can help your business boost revenue, gain exposure and visibility, and increase brand loyalty and brand recognition in a competitive online landscape.
Grecia is a PR professional with nine years experience in B2B and B2C technology, consumer and brand-building PR, communications and corporate affairs.