How can people find out about your business? How do potential clients know you even exists? How will these potential new clients find you? There’s a good chance the first thing they’ll do is google the name of your business. And then what?
This post will teach you 5 easy steps to build and effectively manage your online reputation. After all, reputation is everything. When it comes to marketing, your reputation can either be your best friends or your worst enemy.
1/ Create relevant and valuable content
Use the media you prefer, it could be your website, your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or LinkedIn. Every piece of content including properly tagged photos and videos will appear in search engines.
Don’t be a product pusher, think about your target audience. They don’t want to be hammered with disguised advertisement, they want to find interesting content about their centers of interests. If your target is a group of European fair trade distributors, try to create material that they could use if they decided to start a partnership with your business. It could be some beautifull pictures of workers doing handicrafts, or a blog about the everyday’s life of the artisans who work with you. Be creative and think about the interests/passions/needs of your target community as opposed to your own.
2/ Create a Google alert about yourself and join the conversation
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. To get started go to Google alert, and enter your search terms. I strongly recommand you set up a Google alert for your business, your name, or your competitors. You can even create an alert for any key phrases such as “looking for a fair trade coffee producer” or “fair trade wooden toys”.
Creating an alert to monitor your e-reputation is one thing, responding to polish it is the key. When you find content about yourself written by others, you can either appreciate it or find it unpleasant. In the first case, join the conversation and say thank you. Try to be specific about what you appreciated. In the other case, when you discover embarassing comments or content about your business, take your responsibilities and adress the concerns, dont ignore them. Always remain calm and polite, despite what others might have been said about you.
3/ Watch and listen everywhere
Google isn’t the only place you should look at when searching for information about yourself or your business. For example a lot is being said in the blogger’s community. Customers and distributors post reviews, share their impressions, and express themselves. Take a look at Google Blogsearch to find out what’s been said about you in the bloggosphere.
Conduct some searches in Twitter to receive real-time information.
Try Backtype that lets you track comments left on blogs and forums as well as on social sites. This will let you monitor individuals that expressed their feelings about you or your business.
Use Youtube to do some video search. Youtube is the second most visited website after Google and before Facebook. Search there for videos about you and the competition. Other video search engines include Google’s Video Search, Yahoo’s Video Search, Blinks and Vimeo.
4/ Be nice
I know this can be seen as an evidence, but we often forget this simple rule. Be nice and others will be nice to you. This can translate into many things in your online life. Write kinds comments on other’s blogs, Facebook, Youtube and other social media. Leave a comment with compliments when you read a post that you like. Also try to answer gently to other’s criticisms. Kill with kindness: don’t be too confrontational nor overly sensitive when answering critics.
5/ Build relationships with likeable people
We tend to become the company we keep, right?
That is why you need to find other people in your niche market who have influential blogs or a facebook page with lots of fans and try to get involved. A good way to break the ice with a given community is by bringing some interesting content (an interesting and relevant link for example). First listen, then react to what people are saying.
If you are an expert on a topic let’s say fair trade in Bolivia, then try to find an influential blog or website about fair trade and interact in a way that shows your expertise. You can also try to contact the administrator of the blog or facebook page to propose an article or an interview.
Start digging around. Use Alltop.com, Google Blogsearch and Twitter to start identifying media sources in your niche. Once you have spotted a few people who produce likeable content, start helping them by tweeting about them and sharing their content on Facebook. Leave thoughtful non-promotional comments on their posts. Be helpful as opposed to pushy. This isn’t just about taking. This is about giving value first.
Remember the goal of creating more content about you is to:
- drive more traffic to your blog / facebook page / website or other social media
- have more visibility in search engines because they’ll have more material they can index with your name
- create associations with other trusted people online
- reach a broader audience with your ideas
Why don’t you take a moment and google yourself or your company. Do you like what you see? What can you do about it? Give me your comments and feedbacks I’d be happy to read them.