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Reputation Management

Why All Start Ups Need To Be Proactive About Reputation Management

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I’ve met with a few companies lately who are concerned about their online reputation, and rightfully so! These companies have had a few customers with not so positive experiences with their brand and have not held back online. Over time, these negative blog posts and reviews have crept up and rank very well for most variations of their brand names, ultimately tarnishing great brands and causing them to lose revenue on a regular basis.

These companies are not new, in fact, both have been around for over twenty years. If only they had been proactive about owning the first and second pages of the SERPs, they might not have this problem right now. Because of this, I decided a post was in order, directed at companies less than a few years old.

Start ups, big and small I demand your attention for a few minutes. I promise that the content in the post will change the way you build your brand online and will help protect you in the case that a few of your customers decide to flame you online. So let’s talk reputation management and what it is…

What Is Reputation Management?

In a nutshell, reputation management is working to push negative results off of the first page of the SERPs for your brand name or even high profile employees that work for your company.

About 99% of the time, reputation management is an afterthought… something that is only put into action once your company has bad reviews online. And let’s face it, you can’t please every single customer, all of the time. Customers are going to have bad experiences and as they become more tech savvy, they aren’t afraid to call you to the carpet.

So what do you need to do? You need to be proactive about your reputation management instead of reactive. Let’s get into the details.

You Need A Proactive Strategy

First and foremost, you need a proactive reputation management strategy. It’s not enough to say, we need to do this and hope it gets done. You need to sit down and map out a strategy to get it done! This is what your strategy should include:

  • Timeline – Reputation management won’t happen over night. You need to determine how long it will take you to create the assets and how long it will take you to help them become authoritative in the eyes of the search engines. You’re probably looking at a minimum of six months to get this done.
  • Number of SERPs – This is how many search engine results pages you want to fill up with content about your brand or high profile employee. Most companies are fine with one SERP, others want two or three. Remember that the more SERPs you want to fill up, the longer it will take you, so plan accordingly.
  • Assets – These are the sites you are going to create about your brand or your high profile employee.

Once you have each of these plotted out, it’s time to execute.

Assets

One of the most common questions I receive about assets is which sites should be considered for a reputation management campaign. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Crunchbase
  • Slideshare
  • Manta
  • WordPress.com
  • Blogger.com
  • Personal Website (www.yourname.com)
  • Wikipedia
  • Quora
  • Yelp

And the list can go on and on…

One think you’ll need to consider is the fact that the search engines not only like unique content for each of these assets, but also different types of content. In most cases, if you have five or six blogs about your company, only a few of them will make it to the first page because of the diversity factor.

Content Generation

Once you pick your assets, you then need a strategy to build them out. Remember, you don’t want too many “written content only” sites, so be smart about it.

When putting together a reputation management campaign, proactive or reactive, I might execute the following:

  • Build and transcribe an infographic for a blog on WordPress.com
  • Slice up the infographic and add it to a PowerPoint presentation and add it to Slideshare.net
  • Take the sliced up graphics and add them to Pinterest or Flickr
  • Share the post on WordPress.com and the PowerPoint on Slideshare across the big four (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn)

This is called content repurposing and helps you maximize your efforts and budget!

More than anything, make sure that your content is unique and on different topics, again… think diversity!

Mini Marketing Campaigns

Lastly, you will need to put in place mini marketing campaigns for each of the assets you are working to fill up the SERPs. In most cases, you won’t be able to “just build out the assets” with unique content and expect them to pop. They will need some off site promotion to gain social shares and backlinks.

Be careful to not secure links from the same sources to each of these sites. The search engines will see right through this and your plan will backfire. I’m not saying that if Facebook has a place to add your Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and personal website URLs to not add them… definitely take the links, but you’ll want diversify your links and shares as much as possible.

As you can clearly see, being proactive is an extremely time intensive process, which is why most companies don’t take the time to do it. I can promise you that if you put forth the effort and invest time and budget toward these initiatives, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress in the future.