Everything You Need to Know about Online Reputation Management

Have you recently ‘Googled’ your name? Today, people regularly search other people online, before an interview, a meeting, or even a date. Consider the following statistics:

  • 44% of adults online have googled the person or company whose services or products they require in a professional capacity, like an electrician, lawyer, or dentist
  • 50% of all adult internet users gave an online review of a service they used
  • 78% of internet users usually perform product research online, and trust the reviews they read online
  • 80% of people claimed to have changed their purchase decision because of a negative review they read online

If a prospect Google’s your name or brand, you want to ensure that whatever comes up is positive as it will shape their impressions of your business.

What is a reputation?

As a business, you have probably experienced the joy of a radiant online review and the sting of a negative online comment. Your reputation is a product of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you and/or your business.

It has become increasingly easier for consumers to share their opinions about your products or services on social media networks, which often appear within the top results of name searches. It is important that the information posted online about your business be accurate and reflect you in a positive light.

A good reputation will lead to increased prospect confidence and more sales. Conversely, a bad reputation will result in diminished consumer confidence and subsequent reduction in sales and profits.

What is online reputation management?

Whether positive or negative, any social media feedback is a valuable source for guiding improvements and spreading the word about your business. If any negative information appears, you want to be able to address.

This is online reputation management, and it has a direct bearing on whether or not prospects will buy your product or service. ORM involves managing search engine results and protecting your brand’s reputation from negative exposure online.

If done well, ORM will prevent negative buzz from happening, protect and cultivate your brand, and have a positive impact on your sales. It will deliver high rankings and visibility for good publicity, which will help to dilute and push bad publicity down search engine listings, and out of public view. This is likely to work because online searchers rarely view more than 2 SERPs.

Impact of Reviews on your Online Reputation

Studies show that online reviews can significantly impact a brand’s reputation, and subsequently sales. These reviews are widely read, and tend to influence consumers’ purchase decisions. This implies that reinforcing or rebuilding your online reputation largely depends on promoting positive reviews, or highlighting what’s good.

Consider the following statistics:

  • 59% of users consider customer reviews to be more valuable than expert reviews
  • 60% of online shoppers offer feedback about their shopping experience, and usually feel more inclined to post a review based on a positive experience rather than a negative one
  • 70% of Americans claim that they check out product reviews before purchasing a product or service
  • 70% of consumers worldwide trust online consumer reviews. This makes them the second most trusted form of advertising after word of mouth
  • 71% of online consumers read reviews, which makes it the most widely read consumer-generated content
  • 71% of consumers use keyword searches to find products or services
  • 80% of the time spent by consumers shopping online is used to research items rather than making the actual purchase
  • 92% deem customer reviews as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ useful
  • 92.5% of adults often research products online before proceeding to make an in-store purchase.

How to Get Started with Online Reputation Management

It is important to listen to what is being said online about your business, brand, products, or services, even if it is negative. Listening gives you the opportunity to respond and address in-house issues or deal with adverse information online, both of which can negatively affect your image and reputation.

Here are the steps involved in a standard ORM strategy:

Step 1: Research and Analysis

Before you can initiate your ORM efforts, you should first examine how your online reputation currently stands. This involves your brand/business/product research on search engines to see the results concerning your business that visitors and prospects see when searching for your keywords.

You might need to use several social monitoring tools, including:

  • Google Alerts – Receive email alerts every time a user mentions specific keywords you are tracking
  • Social Mention – Tracks Twitter, blogs, images, audio, video, blog comments, and mainstream news so you can easily stay up-to-date
  • Technorati – Do your research on keywords or key phrases related to your brand or competitor brands here
  • ReputationDefender – Intended to help online business preserve and restore their reputation in social media. This tool offers robust monitoring services to help you track your brand and deal with the results that show up in SERPs

Step 2: Competitor Backlink Assessment

More research is necessary to analyse your industry rivals and their online standing. It helps if you know where your business matches up to industry rivals as this also impacts your brand’s reputation.

Step 3: Review Building and Influencing

At this point, you can post genuine customer reviews of your products/services/brand in leading web properties so they can surpass the negative reviews in SERPs. The objective of this process is to reduce the number of negative reviews while increasing the number of positive comments and favorable reviews of your business. It’s important to work on growing online reviews.

One of the best ways to counter attack negative comments is by responding with a positive one. You can influence the outcome by actively participating in the conversation to improve the perception of your brand. Even a simple comment like the one below can do wonders:

‘Thank you for your feedback. We are working on resolving this issue’

Step 4: Social Media Profile Creation and Optimisation

linkedinprofile-best.JPG

Here is an example of Linkedin power profile

If you don’t currently have a presence on different social media platforms, it is important to identify those that are most relevant to your business. Set up social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or any other platform where you can easily reach your target audience.

Choosing the right social media network is key to building and promoting your online reputation. To deliver better customer service to your market, it is crucial that you engage in the right and appropriate social network for your industry.

Beyond creating these profiles, dedicate some time to optimise them with regular updates, comments, and participating in group discussions. If need be, seek professional help with customising your social network profiles as per your promotion efforts.

Step 5: Social Media Promotion

Consider hiring a professional SEO or SMO team to provide valuable and informative content on your social media profiles, and to maintain a high level of activity to enhance your reputation. This process involves regular updates and discussions to boost engagement and friend/follower acquisition.

Keep in mind that two-way conversations need not use official tone. Use language that shows you care. You need a particular way to confer to your audience and it should coincide with your company’s tone of voice.

Step 6: Content Generation

Consider outsourcing on/off-page content creation techniques such as article creation, blogging, and press release. Optimise the content with the right keyword usage, anchor texts, and links. Keep in mind that visitors and search engines like valuable content. The more valuable the information on your site, the more visitors you will be able to attract.

Conclusion

Online reputation management is fast becoming a critical strategy for organisations. This relatively new field in today’s online landscape is not just a personal issue for today’s internet shoppers, but a critical marketing tool for all business, whether online-based or otherwise.

Remember that customers and prospects go online to learn more about the companies they want to work with. A positive review will likely get you a new client, whereas a negative comment from one unsatisfied customer could easily destroy everything you’ve built.

With a concise online reputation management strategy though, you will be able to build back your clean reputation online.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Hill is the Outreach Coordinator at TechWyse, an SEO agency in Toronto, Canada. While she isn’t building relationships with bloggers and influencers in the marketing world, she can be seen rooting for the Blue Jays.

Facebook? Snapchat? Twitter? Where Should I Post?

We all know that social media can be a really effective marketing tool. It gives you a direct line to your customers, allows you to build your brand and helps you direct traffic to your website.

But which social media platforms should you be using? Creating and maintaining a strong presence on all of them would take some serious manpower and it’s not always relevant to your company either. Each platform has its own demographics and its own way of working.

Here we give you a rundown of the most popular social media platforms to help you decide where you should be posting:

Facebook

Facebook has nearly 2 billion active users and is the largest of the social networks. Every business should have some kind of Facebook presence. However, as the youth turn away from a social network increasingly dominated by older generations, this isn’t the place to properly engage with under-24s. Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers, however, are amongst the 44% of users checking Facebook several times a day.

Snapchat

The majority of Snapchat users are under the age of 24, with a high proportion not yet out of high school. Content on Snapchat has to present an authentic look at your brand. Daily stories are formed from a collection of low-budget video snippets, meaning it’s a great option for brands who can’t or don’t want to spend thousands on slick video content. Working with influencers, encouraging users to create stories around a brand and offering promos codes are just some of the marketing tactics used by brands on Snapchat.

Twitter

Twitter is the most succinct of social media platforms, limiting its users to just 140 characters per post. However you can also post images, videos and links. Hashtags are a big part of the Twitter experience too. Add a few relevant hashtags to your posts to get seen across the network. Twitter has 328million monthly active users but it takes a lot of time and effort to post effectively. You need to engage with customers, retweet relevant content from across the network and become part of the Twitter community to truly reap the rewards of a presence here.

Instagram


Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) has great reach. It has 500million users, 59% of whom check Instagram every day. The platform allows users to post images and 15 second videos to their feed. Lots of these images are slick and edited to be aspirational rather than realistic. It’s the perfect place to build your brand image but, because links can’t be placed within posts, it’s not a great way to direct traffic to your website.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business oriented social networking platform and almost 80% of users are aged 35 or older. It’s a good place for B2B communications and promotions. In fact, according to the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry report, LinkedIn now beats Facebook as the most important platform for B2B marketing. Brands use the platform for product launches, employee recruitment, generating leads and establishing their companies as industry thought leaders.

Pinterest


70 million people actively use Pinterest. The majority of these are women with the most popular topics including home décor, weddings, fashion and recipes. Images are posted to Pinterest. These can then be assembled into a digital noticeboard. Marketers have the added advantage of adding a Pinterest “buy button” to their posts meaning users can be directed straight to a product on your website.

Whatever your business and whoever your target market, there’s a social media platform out there to help you market your brand. Think about the demographics you want to reach out to and consider your social media objectives before choosing your social media platforms and designing your strategy.

Corinne Ledling is a businesswoman who’s very passionate about her job. She’s a Content Manager at Bizstats.co.uk and loves to share social media tips and tricks and her marketing experience.

Who should Handle your Company’s Social Media Presence?

It does not matter what you think about it personally – social media presence has become a must for companies, no matter what industry they are in, how large they are or who their customers are. With a bit of savvy social media marketing, a company can attract new customers, help retain them, provide quick customer support and even attract top talent using various social media platforms.

In order to achieve all of this, someone has to be tasked with taking care of your corporate social media accounts and for a certain percentage of companies, this is easier said than done.

So, who should handle your company’s social media accounts?

Hiring Someone

For certain type of companies, hiring a person to handle their social media accounts is perfectly viable. Mid-sized companies can afford such a position and larger corporations can have entire teams dedicated to doing nothing but boosting their social media presence.

The main problem with this approach is that it is simply not affordable for smaller companies that are struggling paying their employees as is. Taking on another person just for social media efforts is probably the last thing they would do with extra money.

Some companies decide to go to an outside agency or a freelance social media marketer. Such agencies and freelancers usually offer certain packages and services that come as part of these packages.

While this can work perfectly well, it can still be pricy and there is always the danger that you might not end up one of their “priority clients” and thus end up with subpar service and results.

Taking on an Intern

One of the more common practices today is for companies to take on an intern who would handle their social media accounts for them.
On paper, this really does sound like a win-win situation. The intern gets the chance to put his or her foot in the door and the company does not spend money or someone else’s time (we’ll get to this later).

Unfortunately, the thing that sounds so good on paper turns out to be less-than-spectacular in the real world, at least in the majority of cases. Often times, the amazing social media skills that this intern is supposed to have cannot translate to corporate accounts in any way imaginable. God forbid you ask them to give you some numbers or tell you how they are doing in terms of KPIs you set or ROI that you expected.

It is also not unheard of to take on an intern and end up with someone who is absolutely disinterested in what they are supposed to be doing. They come up with innumerable excuses for not doing their job and they end up as glorified coffee-fetchers for the rest of the company.

Assigning it to an Existing Employee

This is an especially common solution in companies where no one really knows what they are trying to do with their social media presence. They see everyone doing it, they have a few ideas and they decide to throw something at it, so to say.

The obvious solution is to find the most social media-savvy person in the company and assign them with running a few social media accounts on various channels. Perhaps someone even volunteers, thinking that it is the same as having their own personal Twitter profile.

This is a solution that very rarely works out fine because this person is often not exactly versed in the intricacies of social media marketing. They try their best and they may come up with a few ideas, but once again, no one is tracking results, no one is measuring ROI and it all becomes an afterthought after a month or two.

The worst thing, perhaps, is that this employee starts neglecting their other tasks, since doing social media seems like an easier assignment. They think they’ll come to their actual work later, but they end up wasting time on social media efforts that do nothing.

A Company-Wide Effort

If pulled off the right way, the best approach to social media for companies that cannot afford to hire experts to do this long-term for them is to come up with a company-wide strategy that will be as comprehensive as possible.

For example, the owner or someone who is interested in these kinds of things can spend some time reading up on social media marketing and talking to people who actually do it for a living. Maybe the company can even hire a consultant for a few days, just to clear up the basics. At this stage, it is absolutely crucial that it is decided what the goals are and what the KPIs will be that have to be tracked closely.

The next step is to get the employees together and ask them if there are ways in which they would like to contribute. It is more likely than not that a few hands will go up and from there on it is just a matter of organizing everything so that everyone knows their assignments and schedules. This can be done using Basecamp or a similar Basecamp alternative, for example.

It is important to encourage input from the entire company but still have someone who will be in charge and who will monitor the results that are hopefully leading to a successful social media presence for the company.

5 Statements to Live By When Using Social Media to Attract New Clients

Believe it or not, you can actually get leads from social media!

5 things you should know about using social media to generate leads and attract new clients.

As a business owner, you hopefully you know the important role social media can play when it comes to marketing your business.  However, it can be hard for business owners to keep up, much less stay ahead of the curve when dealing with how social media works.  Let’s face it the average business owner is giant flail when it comes to social media.

That’s because social media changes quickly and dramatically- what’s hot this year may be the MySpace of the next.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t find clients on social media.

Follow these guidelines for attracting new clients using social media … they’re general enough so they apply to any platform, no matter how hot it may or may not be this year.

1.  Don’t be afraid to branch out. But actually do something too.

You might have a Facebook page and think you’re done with social media.  But if that’s your approach to digital marketing, you are missing out on a lot of potential clients for your business.

Since the idea is to be generating leads and finding new customers, it makes sense to branch out beyond just one social media platform.  If you’re on Facebook, consider Twitter too.

Branching out doesn’t mean just sign up, put two posts and then add the link to the list of social media icons that came with your website template.

It actually means being active, and putting some time in.

This guy's followers are not real!

This guy’s followers are not real!

2.  People judge you by your social media accounts.

Whenever I am checking out a new business I found on online, I can’t help but clicking their social media links and judging them. I’m not sure what they are trying to tell me by showing they signed up for Twitter five years ago, and tweeted a handful of times FIVE YEARS ago and have done nothing ever since. I mean it’s great you got a free link to your website but why tell people about it.

If you are serious about leveraging social media, get a few platforms and actually do something once you’re there.

Here are a few more platforms to consider:

  • Pinterest.  Pinterest, as you may well know, is picture-driven.  It’s always been a wonderful source of inspiration for home decorators and wedding planners, but did you know it’s much more than that now?  All sorts of businesses (including B2B) are making connections on Pinterest…connections that may result in new customers.
  • Instagram.  Instagram is not what many business people think.  That’s to say, it’s not just a place for 20-somethings to show off details of their lives to their friends.  Like Pinterest, Instagram is where many business connections are now being made, including B2B.  Since you can’t post links and because it’s all about the photos, there is, however, a special way to do business marketing on Instagram.
  • LinkedIn.  LinkedIn gets the short end of the stick when it comes to reputation and potential as well.  It’s much more than an online resume site now.  With the introduction of Pulse, there’s more content creation going on these days: more sharing, and more commenting than before.  Businesses are finding LinkedIn to be a very rich source of connections, leads, and potential clients.

3.  You need to be proactive.

The biggest mistake that businesses make with social media is simply signing up and doing nothing.  The internet is littered with a million examples of this.

Don’t be scared to re-post great content that’s from your competitors,  if it’s relevant and valuable to your followers (and of course you hope they do the same with your content).

4.  You need to create.

You will see a rush of engagement when you re-post something great.  YOU need to be creating something like that too.

When you post original, valuable content to your social media, that’s when you really start to see a return on investment for your efforts.  Don’t forget: your potential clients are examining your feed (that’s what you post from day to day) and when they see lots of effort put into publishing original, creative content that makes you look authoritative, caring, helpful or whatever makes you look good, then they’ll form a better opinion of your business.

They’ll also share what they like, effectively broadcasting your business message to all their followers too.

5.  It’s important not to lose sight of your brand identity.

Another mistake business owners make – and this is common even among the heavy hitters in every industry – is they lose sight of who they are the minute they log into their social media accounts.

If your business branding involves marketing your services or product to high-end clients who are willing to pay a premium for a top-notch product with customer service that goes above and beyond, you probably shouldn’t be on Instagram posting pictures from the infamous “Girls in Yoga Pants” website, or joke pictures from their sister site, “People of Walmart”.  The latest cringe worthy thing has been posting photos made with the face swapping app on a business account.

With everything you post on social media, you should have first and foremost in your brain the message you want to convey.  The best way to keep your ducks in a row on this is to clearly define your brand identity, and post it everywhere in your office so everyone keeps it in mind throughout the work day.  Everything you post must be on message, or don’t post it at all.

Where to go from here.

So in general, post lots of good (appropriate) stuff everywhere!

If you’re not sure how to proceed, study the accounts of businesses whose pages you admire and enjoy.  You may be able to develop your own blueprint from the way they manage their social media accounts.

Do you get clients from social media?  What platforms have you found to work best for your business?

How to Make Instagram Work for ANY Business [5 ways]

I have been doing a lot on Instagram this year, on both client sites and on my own. Instagram is becoming super popular and here are 5 ways to make it work for ANY business, gleaned from my experience.

Demographics matter.

This is true of all social media and you should research your target audience. But here is the thing, Instagram is exploding right now and more and more older people are on it.

The first commercial account I worked on was for extreme sports and it took off like a rocket with huge engagement and numerous leads originating from the account. The demographic was perfect, as we were selling gear for an extreme sport. Instagram is full of young guys wanting to show off how extreme they are. It was a match made in heaven.

The next account I worked on was for a high end restaurant, and it did not work as well. The engagement was lower. Although it got responses, a lot of the response was from people who were already following the client on Facebook.  They’d seen the Instagram posts on the Facebook page, then headed on over to Instagram to follow the client on that platform, too.

Therefore, the account was not finding new leads. Instead, it was engaging existing customers. It was still worth having but it was nothing like the exploding success of the first account I worked on.

Instagram is global, but you don’t have to be.

The second thing about the demographics (and this cuts both ways) is: Instagram is international. Can you sell to people everywhere? Or are you limited to the USA or even a physical location.

The bigger the area you can deliver to the better Instagram can be for you. But this shouldn’t mean you should skip Instagram if you are promoting a physical location. The one thing that offsets your limitation is the shear volume of people you can reach on there.

I have worked on several campaigns which were promoting tours on the island of Key West where I live, and the accounts produce leads. Some of those people we were reaching out to in all corners of the world would later end up on the island booking trips.

Frankly if your customers are young like under 35 then being on Instagram is pretty much required.

What is this a photo of? Someone swapped faces with their wife?

Of course the photos matter.

You have to have good photos. This seems obvious but after working with a bunch of small businesses on their Instagram accounts, I know that its not obvious to everyone. If your photos are not good the account will not grow organically.

You can have interactions with thousands of people on Instagram and you will get some followers and likes but your growth will be severely limited if your pictures are ugly. People might feel indebted to because you liked their photo so they like your crappy photo back, but they are not going to tag their friends or anything.

What you really want is to be posting photos that elicit enough response so that people tag their buddies and you can get more followers. This seems pretty easy when your account is all about showing pictures of hot girls or guys, not as easy when it’s something people don’t usually get too passionate about.

Push your phone number.

You are going to see a lot more success from Instagram if you push your phone number. Instagram doesn’t allow links anywhere except in the bio, which again is a knife that cuts both ways for me. It makes it almost impossible for spammers to stuff their feed full of affiliate links but at same time legitimate brands can’t link out to helpful URLs.

I see a lot of people directing followers to click the url in their profile  When I tried this approach, it did increase click throughs, but what really seems to work is putting your phone number right in the post. People are viewing Instagram on their phones 99% of the time and if you give them a great photo of what you are offering with your phone number next to it, there is more chance they will just call, than if you make them go to your profile and dig through whatever you are using as a website in order to email you.

Closeup portrait, smart pretty young female in gray white suit, dumbfounded flabbergasted by what she sees on cell phone, isolated indoors office background

I can’t believe this account has so many followers and its only a week old!

Don’t be fooled by fake followers.

I see a lot of accounts on Instagram that are swollen with fake followers, and they stand out like a sore thumb, at least to me. I totally see the allure of padding an account with some fake followers to get it started or just to appear a bit more important. That actually might not be a bad plan: to get a new account a few fake followers so it doesn’t look new, but to me when you have thousands of obviously fake followers it just looks bad.

The way I spot them is that the account’s engagement rate is astronomically low. Your engagement rate is a percent based on the number of followers you have vs how many engagements your posts get. There are different ways to count engagement, like some people say you should only count comments or whatever but what I am talking about is likes and comments.

When I first started working on Instagram a couple years ago, it was wide open. You put a good photo on there and if you had a decent following you could see a 10% even 20% response rate. Like for example if you had 1000 followers you would post a photo and get 100 to 200 likes and comments on it. It was insane.

Then as the ads rolled out. Now if you have a really good account and you post a great photo, you are lucky to get 10%. You more likely to get 3-5%. There are a bunch of internal changes at Instagram causing this but it’s not important for this article so let me get back to what I saying about the fake followers.

When you have an account that has 1000s of followers and then you look at its post and you see it got like 27 likes and no comments on their last post from two days ago, guess what?  They probably have fake followers, and to me I go from being jealous at their huge following to thinking they are a joker.

So essentially, how do you know if Instagram will work for you?

You don’t! There is no way to know until you get on there and try. But if you have younger customers (although not required), you can deliver what you are selling over a wide area, you can answer the phone and you can take/buy great photos, you’ve got a great chance of Instagram working for you.