How To Improve Your Brand Reputation? A Game Plan For Reputation Management
In May 2022, Elon Musk tweeted that his Twitter takeover deal was "temporarily on hold." In the next few hours, two things happened: the Twitter stock price went down by 15%, while Tesla prices immediately increased.
All this impact was caused by a single message on Twitter. Elon Musk is a prominent figure with a huge follower base, and this is not the first time Musk's tweets cost millions of dollars.
However, it's a beautiful example of how today's brand reputation can work.
Social media is only one of many mediums where it could manifest, but rules are all the same. Your reputation is incredibly dynamic and prone to change. There's a lot to it: your public relations effort, marketing campaigns, ads, media, product or service online reviews, or management's behavior (and misbehavior).
Online reputation can be viewed from various angles. Every person will perceive it differently, and multiple departments will take care of it – from communications and customer experience to product team and C-level leadership.
So how to tame brand reputation?
First, you must understand and measure it.
It's hardly a surprise that the brand reputation starts with a quick search on Google. It doesn't matter much where someone heard about you or your company. As soon as potential customers or partners decide to find out more, your positive brand reputation depends on your search results. They create the first and, very often, the final impression.
However, managing your reputation differs from traditional marketing tactics that primarily focus on SEO and ads. And it starts with the right structure.
1. Update the SERP results to build brand reputation
The composition of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is the first thing people stumble upon after entering a brand's name into a search window. While search results depend on the preferences of Google algorithms, the SERP of the most successful companies tend to be very similar, regardless of the industry.
Let's take some Fortune 500 enterprises as an example and check their SERPs in the United States. We'll see that the first page of most companies consists of the following:
- At least one result to the official company's website localized for the specific region (depending on where the search is from);
- At least one social media website pointing to the official profile;
- Localized brand's/company's Wikipedia page;
- Google business profile, People also ask, and Top stories sections in the supported region.
While other results may vary, making sure that these components stand at the top of SERP should be the first step when building your reputation management strategy.
The good news here is that the essentials are relatively easy to achieve. In basic terms, all you need to do is to stay proactive on the platforms mentioned above, and the results will come.
2. Review the social media to boost conversations about your brand
LinkedIn is the main social media outlet that truly cares about the importance of brand reputation. You might want to localize it and keep it active. Ensure your job ads and regular employer branding effort are seen there.
If possible, try steering away from local job ad providers. That doesn't mean you need to stop placing your ads there. Start asking applicants to send their LinkedIn profiles, link to the platform from your website, and employ other tactics to generate engagement there. Having texts on platforms with high domain authority is good. Having high engagement is even better.
Your approach to other social media is quite similar. However, note that depending on the region, you might need to put additional focus on social media platforms you're unfamiliar with (e.g., use Twitter instead of Meta). Keep your social media localized.
If you operate in 2-5 major markets, consider having an account for each region and one global account for global news and updates. If your company operates internationally, you can stick to a single account with English as the primary language. However, communicate in different languages, especially when publicly replying to customers. Rely on the best industry standards: respond swiftly and if operating internationally, consider answering to requests 24/7. This will help your business to stay in touch with what people are saying about your brand.
You shouldn't aim to publish as many social media posts as possible – they do not bring value by default. Spark conversations, communicate with people, and experiment with audiences when sponsoring posts to optimize them. There's very little use in posting on social media just for the sake of it. If your posts constantly collect 5 likes, reconsider your strategy.
These steps will add not only help to build a positive reputation but also bring additional marketing opportunities.
3. Follow the Wikipedia guidelines as a long-term brand reputation management strategy
Wikipedia is an important tool that can boost your brand's good reputation. Have a company Wikipedia page and update it regularly. If you're operating internationally, translate the page. Remember to write about the company's story, any awards, social responsibility efforts, changes in management, M&A action, etc.
Creating your Wiki page might be tricky. The article might get rejected due to self-promotion. In such cases, begin with a short text that quotes only the most reputable sources. Once the article is approved, you will be able to edit it.
Also, prepare Wikipedia pages for your key people. If your employees or top management meet the criteria, create a Wiki page for them, and use interlinks to your main page. When linking to the original Wikipedia sources, use the best websites with the most favorable information or, if justifiable, your own.
Be careful not to mess around with Wiki mods and abuse Wiki rules. Getting on the wrong side of mods will make your effort way more complicated than it has to be. When linking, follow the guidelines and best practices.
Sometimes, Wikipedia can provide benefits when covering negative stories, as people use it as a source of truth. This is one more reason to take care of your page yourself. An established editorial account will allow you to set the narrative.
Meanwhile, PR companies should continuously build and manage their editorial Wiki accounts on multiple topics. There will come a day when those accounts will become very valuable.
As a final note – think about the words you put on your Wiki page. If possible, consult with SEO people. Depending on the circumstances, a high-quality Wiki page could serve many purposes.
4. Embrace the Google features to build up positive impact
Using Google features will help your brand reputation management and add credibility. Also, it could help to drive your narrative and your marketing efforts. While these features differ per country, it's in your best interest to display as many of them as possible. Depending on the business type, companies might try to appear in the Top Stories carousel.
It can be done by covering the trending news while following Google's content guidelines. Remember that the space used by Google features not only improves the general impression of your brand in SERP but also moves any harmful content away from the center of attention.
Here is an excellent resource for understanding what kind of Google features are out there and how often they appear.
5. Focus on the right keywords to get a strong brand positioning
Not all SERPs were created equal. While from the SEO perspective, only high-volume keywords and keyword groups are the ones that matter, the story is different when it comes to brand's reputation.
When considering your reputation, all publicly available information is important. Sure, there is a significant difference of how many people are going to see it.
However, especially when it comes to negative information, you a) need to be aware of its existence and b) move bad news as further down the SERP as possible or make them disappear.
It is essential to understand that high-value and high-volume keywords are not necessarily the same and that value depends on a context specific to the brand.
What else can you do to ensure a positive brand reputation?
While these are some of the more common ways to ensure a good brand reputation, there are plenty of other strategies that will bring positive brand awareness.
- Gather intelligence. Survey your customers, ask partners for feedback, and interview the employees. Use multiple perspectives to better understand brand perception.
- Analyze the brand sentiment. Review sites and social listening tools give a qualitative perspective on how the brand and the product are viewed by different stakeholders.
- Set brand values. A great reputation takes years to build. If you want to create a brand that matters, ensure brand loyalty, and turn almost every customer into a brand ambassador, give your brand an edge with a clear set of values every team has to follow.
Want to learn more about the importance of a great brand reputation?
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