focused on SEO and paid search efforts marketers can take to better dominate search engine results pages (SERPs) and address timely, problematic reputation management issues. Ideally, these strategies drown out less favorable commentary on the web and preserve a brand's online integrity.
A third area of focus marketers should consider in an online reputation management strategy is social media, one of the fastest growing vehicles for online branding and engaging in consumer conversations. Online reputation management is not only about proactively and reactively drowning out less favorable social commentary; it is also about balancing negative opinions with positive opinions.
Social media drives consumer conversation
A solid, well-rounded strategy is about page dominance and ensuring there are glowing reviews and positive content on the web. Social media is now a major component to successfully executing an online reputation management strategy. According to Forrester, despite the fact that 71 percent of CMOs say overall marketing budgets have been reduced, nearly half -- 47 percent -- of all CMOs intend to increase spending on social media. Given the number of platforms that are available in today's online marketplace and the consumer usage, it's a critical component of staying on top of your brand.
Marketers should focus on creating a message that resonates and communicating that message widely, including social networks in the mix.
Any given domain can only receive one or two listings, so marketers need to have alternate sources of positive, or at least neutral, results. To help stake out more real estate on the page, use these four key techniques:
- Leverage alternate domains: Optimize sibling sites (corporate sites, charitable foundations, etc.)
- Link to sites with good listings on page two or three (affiliate sites, positive reviews, neutral results)
- Create and optimize new pages on trusted social media sites (Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr)
- Optimize all press releases
A strong and well-optimized presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks can help a brand own more of this SERP real estate. This, in turn, sends content created by others to lower ranking positions and pages. In doing so, marketers reduce the reach and potential damage that disgruntled consumers, unfavorable media sites, and other negative content can impose on a brand.
In a recent reputation management fiasco, a video of a Domino's Pizza employee doing inappropriate things to a customer's food surfaced online. The pizza giant acted quickly and employed an arsenal of off-site content, including posts on its blog, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and micro-sites to push the video off of the first page of results. When consumers searched for "dominos pizza," the negative video appeared well below the fold of the engine results page.
In another recent PR nightmare, Southwest Airlines needed to recover from negative publicity about a basketball-size hole in the fuselage during a flight. Known for their customer-friendly communications and high level of consumer-brand engagement, Southwest distributed information on Twitter to its customer base. The company used a multi-tweet strategy to keep consumers informed:
- Tweet one: The official press release
- Tweet two: Indicated that all planes would be inspected overnight, with minimal impact to the next day's schedules
- Tweet three: Said that all passengers on the flight would be fully refunded
Tracking your brand's online reputation
Implementing a comprehensive SEO, paid search, and social media strategy to maintain positive brand awareness is essential, but how do you know if it's working? A critical part of managing your brand's reputation is monitoring for publicity -- positive and negative -- that can be easily found on the web.
Aside from searching the internet using brand and relevant keywords, several tools exist to help you automate the tracking and monitoring process. Social media sources can also be integrated into the process by using an RSS reader to combine multiple results from the following sources into one comprehensive feed:
- Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts, etc.
- Google News (for mainstream)
- Technorati (for social media)
- Keotag.com (monitors across the social media universe)
- Blogpulse.com (for hot topics that jump from blog to blog)
- BoardTracker.com (for forums)
- Copernic.com (any other site, including competitors)
Various paid services are also available that conduct all the monitoring and provide a dashboard of results, including Radian6 and BuzzLogic. In addition, a marketer will want to monitor its SEO keyword rankings to ensure coverage on target keywords in the major engines. Integration of these tools into other measurement efforts will provide a more robust set of insights for marketers.
Smart marketers know to monitor and measure traditional public relations, branding, or promotional campaigns -- and the same rules apply to online reputation management. Measurement tactics for SEO and paid search are more defined than those for social media because it is a new discipline for many brands. However, setting goals and executing pre-, during-, and post-campaign measurement efforts will capture the most accurate pulse of consumer conversation and sentiment of a brand.
To discuss any of these social media examples or other thoughts for online reputation management and measurement, email me.
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