With the ever-changing and increased dependence on the internet and social media, a positive online reputation has become a necessity for individuals and more specifically businesses. It, therefore, comes as no surprise, to find that 90% of people globally will only view the first page of a search engine to form an opinion and it supports the notion that building and arguably, maintaining a good online reputation is more crucial than ever before.
During the pandemic, the opportunities for building an online reputation for a business have become clearer due to the lack of personal contact and increased reliance on the internet. However, a more common issue than having a positive (or even negative) reputation is not having one at all (or neutral). When potential customers or business acquaintances research a brand, they expect to find enough resources through a search engine to gain a better insight into the brand or individual they are considering investing into.
When they can’t, it raises doubts and further questions. The power of influence that a search engine can have on your business is underrated. Research shows 91% of consumers say they would place the same amount of importance on an online review as they would from a personal recommendation. Which raises the question of why are businesses and individuals not placing more importance on their online reputation?
A frequent misconception is that online reputation management should only be focussed on during a time of crisis, but this is simply untrue. By consistently managing your online reputation, you are gaining more credibility in the eyes of both internal and external stakeholders, increasing trust, and essentially enhancing your chances of attracting business through the power of positive PR.
When a customer uses a search engine to run due diligence for research and finds a lack of information, that creates a negative perception as it raises concerns regarding your influence or prominence in our industry. This could be through no fault of your own, your story might not be gaining the attention it deserves, or potentially the perception may not align with the truth and may cause individuals to divert their approach when dealing with your brand.
Nevertheless, this should bring encouragement to become the starting point of propelling your journey in building an online presence. Going through a reputation build process is highly valuable. Should your company be faced with a crisis, recovering from that situation is far more difficult if you don’t have a positive story in place in the first instance.
Social Media Communications
When considering how to begin an online reputation build, it can essentially be segregated into three sections: firstly, well managed social media communications. In 2020 alone, social media platforms gained 490 million users, and with over 53% of the global population using social media a clear public relations strategy is needed which will entail regular updates, news, and blogs that can, in turn, help to achieve the end goal of building an online reputation.
The second key stage of building a solid online reputation is through online communication. Alongside the traditional forms such as printed journals and articles, as a means of evolving, it is paramount that online communication is fluid and accessible through different platforms of media. The question that needs to be answered is: “How can I tell my story better than I am already?”
With the distribution of information just as crucial as the information itself, and with the technological advances that are now in place, visual content such as videos and infographics, and podcasts have become a key tactic in answering that question. The overall objective is having the understanding and knowing how to implement these practices to extend your online reputation beyond the first page of Google. By maintaining this, you will solidify your place as a figurehead within your industry.
Building a protection strategy
Once the core foundations of your online reputation have been developed, the final stage is to build a protection strategy. It is inevitable that at one point, a business or a person will deal with some online challenges. This could be due to various reasons such as negative articles, poor online reviews, or troll activity to name some.
Therefore, it is critical that with the procedures that are already in place you enhance your online presence to the extent, where you can control and direct the narrative. If you are successful in developing such a platform, through your content and online communications you will be able to defend your reputation from negative attacks or criticism.
If you are interested in building your online presence and wish to discuss a reputation management campaign with the support of our key industry experts, get in touch today.