Managing Your Brand in the Digital Age
Your brand is your most important asset. Your brand is what attracts the best job candidates, commands a premium in your stock price and helps you retain top talent.
Your brand is what distinguishes you from every other company out there. Your brand is your essence.
Imagine building a solid reputation for decades and overnight it’s in jeopardy. All your industry accolades and employee goodwill can’t help you now. That’s why having a reputation management plan as part of your ongoing communications is so crucial.
If you’re not proactively managing your brand, someone else will do it for you.
Creating Web Habits to Protect Your Reputation
If you haven’t been creating content through digital channels, the chance of your corporate domain being pushed down in the search engine results page (SERPs) is high.
A disgruntled former employee or unhappy customer can mobilize dozens of mentions before your communications team even knows about it. Most people don’t look beyond the first page of the SERPs, so you want to consider the various digital assets you can be distributing online.
Of course, optimizing your entire website (aka SEO) so that search engines can find all of your pages is the simplest course of action. Engaging in a paid search campaign to maintain your brand throughout the year is another. Publishing white papers and case studies frequently will place your name before stakeholders and employees on a regular basis. And creating social media profiles on relevant social channels, and encouraging your employees to do the same, adds up to a lot of incoming links from trusted sources.
Remember that social media amplifies your message and can expand your digital footprint exponentially.
“Citizen Journalism” – The New Normal
With the rise of the 24/7 online news cycle, it’s imperative that your company be monitoring social media channels. Breaking news today will stream through social media sites like YouTube before mainstream media can deploy resources to confirm or deny a story.
Remember the U.S. Airways flight that crashed into the Hudson River? Twitter was where that news first broke. “Citizen journalism” is becoming the norm, and companies need to be prepared immediately to cover their own news, which means grasping the social technology tools that make this possible.
We recognize social media brand management may be outside your comfort zone. However, social media is the “new normal.” But at the very least you should be prepared to respond in some fashion. Even if you have no use right away for Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, park your name anyway. Detractors often try to “brandjack” a company name.
Becoming a Trust Agent
Reputation management must become part of a company’s online communications strategy. While none of us can foresee what event might spur Internet chatter and take on a life of its own, you can react and/or reframe the situation if you have a digital content strategy in place.
When a company is committed to disseminating information to the media, its customers, employees and investors, it’s earning trust. Getting the word out about your company through as many communication channels as possible: news releases, blog posts, e-blasts, video, tweets and fan pages, all play a part in managing your online reputation.
If a company is sincere, transparent and accessible in its communications, consistent messaging over time will solidly position your brand with key constituents and help put you ahead of the curve, if and when a difficult situation overtakes the news cycle.
At the end of the day, it really is all about trust.