Talk has all but ceased about 'the world moving online', the web is the fountain of all knowledge and we know it, but what about the overlap of our attributes? Our personalities exist both online and offline, but with technological leaps into the advancing cyberspace, has the online version of the human race taken over? From company websites to social media, your online reputation is increasingly your primary reputation, both in the personal and business worlds.
How important is an online presence in business?
For businesses and generating brand awareness, a strong online presence is vital. This is not limited to a company website; a well-rounded online presence, reaching out to every RELEVANT platform, is now more important than ever.
Don't believe me? A study by Interconnected World shows 61% of Internet users to research products online and furthermore, online purchasing grew by 14% between 2008 and 2011 and has continued to grow. Digital marketing is all about converting surfers into customers and, with 71% of Internet users sharing on social media sites (Ipsos, 2013), encouraging those customers to spread the word by sharing your content.
Ask yourself this: why would a customer share my content? You will likely come to the conclusion that quality is a key point here, but what use is good content if nobody has heard of you, or worse, if they don't trust you? Not only does your content have to be worth sharing, your reputation must be trusted by users and built up by a solid online presence.
How to boost your online reputation
- Don't just jump onto the hottest new trend, clearly map out how to utilise every platform to your full advantage.
- Be careful when using humour - it's okay to be funny but the Internet is crawling with people who can (and will) take things the wrong way.
- Have someone ready to respond to any signs of crisis. Social media is instant and people expect instant responses - don't allow time for minor negativity to become a reputational crisis.
- Monitor your online reputation! You can go old school with a simple Google search, or there are several tools to monitor what people are saying about you. Free tools include Google alerts, Social mention, Tweet alarm and Topsy.
What happens when things go wrong, you ask?
Hashtag-jacking is one sure-fire way to damage your reputation, especially if you are unaware of the context of said hashtag. Who remembers this classic? In 2011, American fashion house Kenneth Cole published this Tweet at the time of the protests in Cairo:
Not only did this upset and irritate the vast majority of people, it scarred their reputation worldwide and caused damage to the business.
Here's another one. Making light of a mass shooting? This, as you may have guessed, is a bad idea:
We come to another massive social faux pas - automated replies. Oh dear, what were you thinking American Airlines?
Be polite and avoid sarcasm. Simple? Not for Nestle!
Last but not least, don't invite people to mock you. This hashtag campaign was not only disastrous but also horribly predictable:
#AskThicke is certainly one for the books but who could forget #McDStories! Read more here.
Learn from the downfall of others and avoid reputational hits with a solid social presence and carefully constructed content. What do you say? Is it time to give your online reputation the attention it deserves? Whether you're out to boost business, entice clients or you just fancy a bit of a change, your online reputation IS your reputation, so don't neglect it.
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