devonlinerep header Developing Your Online Reputation

By Jim Ernst, Emerging Leader

If you were to type “social networking sites” into Google, you would get about 65,400,000 results. For business owners seeking to make an impact in the digital world, the strategies are seemingly endless. What online communities are best for your brand? How can your brand engage your customers within those communities? Is a company blog going to establish your credibility?

To navigate the digital landscape, we have synthesized key elements to develop your online reputation:

Perception Development

Before developing your reputation strategy, create a compelling and unique brand identity. To start your thinking about how to develop your brand identity, consider these three questions:

  • What are people going to rely on you for? This is your value proposition. What value are you consistently offering? Are you delivering high-quality marketing insights or are you positioning your client ahead of the curve?  Defining value proposition is important in understanding how to position your brand.
  • What is your unique selling point? Figure out what makes coming to you a better experience than going to one of your many competitors or why your product is something entirely new.
  • Developing your voice. Is your company going to fall in ranks with the status quo, or are you the innovative alternative? Imagine your brand as a person. How would they talk, act, and dress. For a more detailed guide to online branding, read Jack Yan’s Online branding: A definitive guide.

Developing Online Strategies to Meet Your Objectives

After refining your brand personality, identify your objectives and prioritize your efforts. What do you seek to gain from building your reputation online? Market leadership? Building meanginful relationships? To start your thinking about potential online objectives, here are common industry goals and strategies to meet them:

Credibility

Establishing credibility in your field is essential in building meaningful relationships and elevating your online presence. Here are some strategies to establishing credibility in the digital marketplace:

  • Answer questions on LinkedIn or Yahoo Answers—These platforms will allow you to give free advice to people who are searching for it. As you answer more questions, naturally you will build relationships and authority in the field. Potentially, this could lead to new business.
  • Blogging—You can also develop a blog to post market insights and comment on industry news. Additionally, you can use your blog as a vehicle to market your business via business (Entrepreneur.com, LinkedIn, etc) and social networks. Take example from Mario Lavandeira (aka Perez Hilton). The opinion-orientated voice of celebrity gossip blog, www.perezhilton.com, Mario Lavandeira has made his career by successfully building his reputation into celebrity gossip columnist no. 1 through writing about the latest, most juicy celebrity news.
  • Wikipedia—As the first-stop online research platform, Wikipedia is an excellent tool for establishing credibility—as you can create targeted inbound links to your site. Actively and intelligently contributing to the online encyclopedia can drive readers seeking more information about your expertise.

Market Leadership

  • New, Innovative Tools—Creating a new tool for industry professionals can elevate your market leadership. Take example from PR Squared—a blog managed by the social media firm, Shift Communications. Their aim was to provide insightful social media advice and commentary without charging content fees. To establish their market leadership and forward-thinking philosophy in the marketplace, PR Squared released their revolutionary Social Media Press Release. The template sought to guide the PR efforts of industry professionals.

Connecting

  • Professional Networks—Business-to-business networking is critical in building relationships within your industry. The Visa Business network on Facebook can be a useful tool in finding, reaching out and building relationships with other professionals.
  • Social Networks—All the rave, social networks provide data and analytics on specific, granular, segmented audiences. Businesses are increasingly investing more effort into reaching the mass audiences using social media. Think Skittles. They have taken advice from the millions of people invested in social networking and designed their entire web presence around sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. By focusing on where their audience already spends most of their time, Skittles is able to effectively target and engage their consumers.

Photo by Kerem Yucel from Stock.Xchng