Strategic Reputation Management

Social Media is a life-form comprising of quintillions of interactions daily. We like to think of these interactions as waves on a big Internet ocean, and the businesses that have no choice but to face this new epoch of transparency the Surfers (boogie-borders if you prefer). The goal of reputation management is to gracefully traverse these waves of user-generated content without your brand smashing into a reef.

Going forward this blog will serve as our knowledge-base for all kinds of marketing wisdom centered around the Social Review Wizard platform (see site), and catered to businesses and individuals striving to understand and apply the principles of a new and ever-evolving reputation management landscape. Naturally, our very first blog post will be a synapsis on what a solid reputation management philosophy entails, as well as some practical steps to effectively weave such a philosophy into your brand-strategy.

Understand Where the Loop Begins

When we say “Loop” here we mean the circular process by which your customer interactions will affect your bottom line. Customers patronize your establishment and interact with your brand via your (hopefully) personalized customer experience. These patrons then communicate about the experience on one or more social platfo31285987_srms; this is known as User-Generated Content (UGC) (public reviews, comments, etc.), which is heavily indexed by Google when evaluating your search engine ranking. UGC has steadily become the lifeblood of the Internet itself with the advent of ginormous social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), and as such should be the focus of your reputation management efforts.

In analyzing this UGC-driven Loop we find two potential inflection points, depending on where your business stands in it’s SEO endeavors: (1) If you’re just starting to mold your online reputation and don’t have much UGC backing your brand (for now), your Loop generally begins with a personalized customer experience that leads to conversations about You by patrons and their respective social circles. (2) If you’re well into the process of driving UGC about your service in the form of reviews, blog comments or site-driven interactions then your points of focus (or of potential influence) are both in continuing to create unique experiences with your customers, as well as in leveraging the content and awareness you’ve already accumulated in your SEO strategy. Either way, knowing where you stand is important because it can give you insight as to where to focus your resources as well as how to measure your success. In turn, understanding what success means helps you segment your reputation management process; for example, a new bike shop owner might monitor his blog for total reads or clickthroughs to his site, while a larger entity might create blogs as part of a larger funneling process involving white papers and customer testimonials that ultimately leads to a product/service purchase, leading them to closely monitor conversions.

Content is King

This is a truism, but original, thoughtful content is a great way to interact with potential clients on their terms; imagine landing on a site and being greeted with a drop-down asking you to subscribe to a newsletter, as opposed to landing on the same site and being greeted with an array of aesthetically pleasing original blog posts. The User Experience (UX) is obviously a little different in each case, and depending on the industry or purpose of the site it may actually make sense to prompt a call-to-action immediately (or both), but providing value upfront with a steady stream of original content (social media posts, blog content, videos) will help you leverage long-tail search engine results, as well as demonstrate to any potential customers that you know what you’re talking about.

Newsletter Final 1st pg - Google Docs
Front Page of an SRW Newsletter

We can generally group content into two categories; “push” and “pull”. Push content is newsletters, ads, anything that is being pushed in front of the client to grab their attention. This is undoubtedly an important facet of any complete content strategy, especially as mobile consumption of media becomes ever-more prevalent, and will enable your “pull” content to shine as it draws more eyes to your website and social media platforms, where some of your best “pull” content should live.

A good rule-of-thumb is to try and use both; provide valuable “pull” content upfront in the form of something interesting or informative, then distribute “push” content to generate site/blog/social media traffic, maximizing the number of eyes on your “pull” content.

Keep Your Marketing Efforts Synchronized

When we say “synchronized” we mean to say that all of the marketing channels funneling potential clients to your site should have the same information on them (NAP – Name, Address, Phone), as well as convey the same message about your brand. For example, returning to our bike shop, if your Instagram account is chalked full of beautiful pictures of sunset bike rides, or cool custom bicycle builds, it might make sense to make sure that there’s a place on your site (which your Instagram links to) where potential customers can peruse images of your bicycles and custom services. On the other hand if we’re a B2B company that produces parts for bikes, it may make more sense to stick to blogging about technical details and then funneling readers to a catalog of many different searchable bike parts.

This isn’t to say every piece of content on every platform should be the same, this is actually highly unadvisable as each platform has specific features which make it better or worse for sharing certain types of content. But there is a certain sense of credibility associated with (1) having correct business information (NAP) on each and every publicly available platform and (2) keeping your message and brand consistent (at least in mind) with every piece of content you distribute. Some pretty cool tools to help SMBs and Enterprise do this can be found on our site.

To Conclude…

Remember that metaphor about UGC waves on the Internet ocean? Yeah, those waves are going to keep on coming whether you prepare for them or not – this is a good thing. It means there are always opportunities to engage with your customer base and actively manipulate how they identify with your brand. It also means that if you drop the ball with a piece of content (or by not ever engaging customers with content), you can always pick right back up and engage with either the same or new people interested in hearing your brand’s story.

We’ll leave you with some inspiring advice; just produce. Just do it, because the more you produce the better chances of you hitting a home run with a certain piece of content, which will give you a great idea as to what your audience prefers. Also, the chances of capturing long-tail search engine hits increases with each post, as it creates more specific phrases for Google to search through when gathering search-engine results for the term “bike spokes made of aluminum-bicarbonate”, which it so happens you wrote a post about seven months ago.

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