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There is a lot of discussion these days among marketers about building a recognizable brand.

Customers come to associate your brand name, logo and messaging, with a person or company. The ultimate hope is that the brand will evoke a positive image, leading people to read a blog, visit a website, place an order or make a recommendation to others.

The problem is that the Internet both helps and hurts those people and companies attempting to promote their brands online. The downside of the proliferation of the World Wide Web is that almost anybody can post their opinions online, and often anonymously. Consequently, audiences are inundated with industry information – both accurate and inaccurate. Legitimate businesses may get lumped in with businesses running scams, which can taint the whole industry. You’ve probably read stories about industry leaders who did something nefarious. That may even have left you thinking that the whole lot of them cannot be trusted.  Thus, it is crucial that anyone in business today know how to use proactive social media techniques to build and protect their business’s reputation. Taking it a step further, it is important to constantly monitor your industry and your brand’s mentions online.

Keys to Reputation Building

  • Accept that it takes time to develop your online reputation
  • Be reliable – do what you say you’ll do and respond to questions
  • Accept responsibility for mistakes and problems and seek to solve them offline
  • Post quality content that adds value to industry dialogue
  • Become an expert of a niche area in your market and contribute regularly to those conversations

Keys to Monitoring and Managing Your Reputation

  • Check popular social media sites regularly for mentions of and interactions with your brand
  • Search your company name online frequently
  • Set up Google Alerts on your brand name and the names of your leadership team members to monitor comments and stories
  • Respond to any relevant criticisms and take them offline with customers to problem solve. Avoid Internet fights
  • Report any false criticisms to site administrators

It is important that anyone who wants to establish a good brand reputation use digital technology; but always rise above the fray.  Be consistently mindful of how you are representing your brand online. Keep it positive and be able to back up your promises. In this manner, the high suspicion that readers hold of some Internet sources will not reflect poorly upon your business.

Always remember that building a solid online reputation can take a significant amount of time. And even for businesses who do their level best to manage their brand’s reputation, all it takes to do harm to a business are for a few negative online reviews or unanswered complaints to emerge and get played out without corrective action from the brand. It is thus necessary to adopt reputation management strategies as soon as possible.

In many ways, the Internet has leveled the playing field for businesses. You can reach more potential buyers than ever before. Small companies and sole proprietors possess greater advertising potential – and for much lower costs than in the past. This allows SMBs to compete on par with their larger industry counterparts. Sure, a bigger marketing budget can gain you more attention online – but, with the emergence of online networks that are open and available to all, the opportunities to get noticed have vastly improved for smaller businesses. We encourage you to view it as an opportunity, not a burden.

by Bruce Worrall, Aug-6-2015

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