If you don’t want your business to grow, then don’t worry about your online reputation. However, if what you want for you and your company is more influence, more income, and more opportunities, then you need to pay attention to your online reputation. In fact, you need a strategy for managing your online reputation.
The Types of Reputation Management That Come Into Play
Before we dive into the strategies for managing your online reputation, let’s zoom out and look at the types of reputation that come into play. Generally, there are two: capability reputation and character reputation.
Think of capability reputation as how the public feels about how well your company performs. Do they like your products? Do your products perform well? Are you getting five-star reviews on Amazon or one-star reviews? Apple is a great example of a company that has a high capability reputation. The Apple Pencil has a five-star rating on Amazon and more than 80,000 reviews.
The other type of reputation is character reputation, which captures the way people feel about the consistent behavior exhibited by you or your company. Let’s go back to Apple for a great example of a company with a strong character reputation. Google “most innovative companies” and Apple comes back at the top of the list. “Innovative” is part of Apple’s character reputation.
Your complete online reputation will be made of how people feel about your capability and your character. Managing your online reputation should involve efforts to address both types of reputation.
The Reputation Management Strategies That Succeed
Whether you are just getting started with developing a strategy for managing your online reputation or you’re looking for a way to repair a reputation that has been tarnished, it’s easy to become overwhelmed quickly. There are so many spaces in which online reputation plays out and so many options when it comes to showing up in those spaces. To keep things simple and manageable, we’re going to focus on two strategies for managing your online reputation: Taking your reputation online and building your reputation online.
Leaning Into Your Online Reputation
Whether you’re a thought leader or a content creator or a CEO, you probably already have a reputation. You’ve worked hard to establish that reputation. If you’re counting on that reputation to grow your brand, you need a strategy for taking that reputation online. Letting it happen organically means letting go of control. That’s not a good strategy.
Establishing good media relations is the first step to taking the reputation that you’ve built and sharing it online. You want your business to be in the news and you want it to be good news; news that promotes the reputation that you’ve built for yourself. As Scott Bartnick, Co-founder of Otter Public Relations says, “When people google you, you should look great.”
Taking your reputation online is a simple process, but it is not an easy process. It starts with telling a story that clearly communicates your reputation. Then you find a way to spread that story. Then you do it again and again and again and again.
Taking your reputation online means continuously having good press online and continuously having that good press pop up in Google searches. You’ll know that you’re doing it right when you control the first several pages of search results. You want the story that people find about you online to be the story that you are telling, not the story that someone else is telling. To accomplish that, you’ll need your story to be SEO optimized and to be tailored in a way that connects it to trending topics. You’ll also need a way to get it into top publications and platforms.
Let’s look at an example of this kind of reputation management. TipSnaps is a platform that allows content creators to connect with fans. TipSnaps built its reputation on two key items: putting creators first and backing creators of color. Its platform clearly communicated that reputation, charging smaller fees than other platforms and highlighting and promoting IBPOC creators to its users. What it needed was a strategy for managing its online reputation.
When TipSnaps came to Otter PR for help in establishing a strategy, we packaged their story, focusing on their reputation, and got it in front of the right media outlets. Google “TipSnaps” today and you’ll find a lot of great press thanks to the work that it did to establish a strategy to manage its online reputation.
One more thought on this: don’t limit your news to “feature articles” that highlight your company and what you are doing. There are all kinds of ways to get in the news. Guest articles in which you share your expertise on a subject are another avenue to get good press. Podcasts are another great opportunity to get your story in front of people and build your reputation. If you can find it on Google, it’s good news for you.
Sharing to Increase Your Online Reputation
Once you start to have good press, make sure that you are sharing that good press. Social media is a critical component in any strategy to manage your online reputation. Sharing your press success on social media makes it rank higher, meaning more and more people online can learn about you. And once you are highlighting it on social, make sure it spreads on social. Get your employees, your fans, and even your family to like, love, and share what you are posting.
Here’s a reputation management example when it comes to promoting your press. Ekin Ozlen, who is one of Otter’s clients, is a songstress, model, and entrepreneur who went through the process of taking her reputation online. Once good news about Ekin started to hit the press, she made sure to share those stories with her 354,000 Instagram followers. That’s an example of what it looks like to own your online reputation.
Building Your Reputation Online
Keeping your story in the news media is an essential part of your online reputation strategy, but it’s not the only part. It is also essential that you be active in online spaces in a way that communicates and strengthens your reputation.
Your social media presence is a key component of your online reputation. Good news will bring people to you on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube. But it won’t give them something to look at once they get there. What you do in these spaces will build your reputation online. Whatever your mission is, from better shoes to better schools to better surgical technology, your social presence should communicate your reputation.
Music Beats Cancer, another Otter client, is a crowdfunding platform for innovative cancer treatment that partners with musical artists to raise funds and awareness. Visit them on Instagram and you’ll find hundreds of posts that support their reputation of being a passionate advocate for cancer research that is mobilizing musicians and making a difference. Music Beats Cancer is an example of an organization that is building their reputation online.
Also, keep in mind that optimizing your social presence is not just helpful for your status on those platforms, but can also help you in your Google rankings. If people find your social when searching for you online and your social is what it needs to be, that is a win.
Using Online Reviews to Build Your Reputation
Another great way to build your reputation online is to prompt great reviews. Sites like Yelp and Amazon and Google My Business are well known places where people rate you. Encourage your customers and clients to share their experiences there. When they post reviews, grab them and share them on your social feeds. Sharing reviews is a great strategy for managing your online reputation. People might be able to argue with what you say about your company, but it’s hard to argue with what your clients and customers have experienced.
If you’re finding that your clients are not offering reviews, ask for them. Beg for them if you need to. Give them a gift when they give you a review. They are helpful to your reputation management on many levels.
Managing the Bad Through Search Engine Suppression
While it’s not fun to think about, there will be times when you need to deal with bad news. No matter how diligently you work at building your online reputation, there will be things that challenge it. From bad client reviews to bad decisions on the part of you or your team, there will be things that appear online that tarnish your reputation. It’s bad news, but it’s not the end of the world.
If you’ve been building your online reputation like you should be, the bad review will be overshadowed by the good reviews. Still, you should do what you can to mitigate any bad press. In the words of Jay Baer, you need to hug your haters. Respond to bad reviews to make sure that people get the truth. Provide feedback when the news is only one side of the story. And if things get really bad, let Otter bring its specialists in to help you to deal with the crisis.
Never Stop Building Your Online Reputation
The most important thing to remember when building a strategy to manage your online reputation is that the process never stops. The online world is constantly moving. Search results are constantly shuffling. And your online reputation needs constant care. It is an essential component of your success. Make sure it gets the attention that it needs.