“I look at the blog just as I look at any other product.” Bob Parsons
If you’re the kind of person that likes to roll up your sleeves and just get the job done, then you’re going to enjoy Day 8 of our blog series. Today, you’re going to take your first steps to building a better reputation.
Now that you’ve discovered your centers of influence, it’s time to discover your voice. It’s time to start building an audience of influencers that will help you improve your online reputation and achieve your goals.
Hello, my name is…
Choosing the right name can make or break your reputation management efforts. For your blog, the name you use in your title is not as important as the name you select for your URL. You may be tempted to head over to GoDaddy.com or some other domain registrar, and register something inspiring or trendy, such as ThoughtsonFire.com or DriventoDeliver.com. Unfortunately, neither mentions your name, so neither is going to do much to help you improve your online reputation.
For individuals, you would be much better off selecting a domain name that matches your real name. For example, I have two personal blogs. One at AndyBeal.com and the other at AndyBeal.me. Both include my real name, so both help me with my reputation efforts, especially when it comes to controlling what shows up in Google and other search engines.
For corporations and other organizations, my advice is to locate your blog in a sub-directory or sub-folder of your existing branded site. Using mycompany.com/blog or blog.myorganization.org allows you to piggyback off your existing search engine credibility and saves you a few bucks in domain name registration fees in the process!
For your social networking profiles, you should use the name that matches the reputation you’re trying to improve. Knowem.com offers a free tool that will allow you to see if your desired profile name is available across dozens of different social networking sites. For a small fee, it will also register and complete your social networking profiles for you.
Potential naming challenges
When checking for the availability of your desired profile name, you may discover that it’s already registered.
There’s a good chance that you previously registered the profile, but it was back when Twitter’s fail whale was just a minnow. Search through your email for the registration confirmation, or ask the social network to re-send you your password and see if the email comes to you. If not, then go ahead, you can panic a little, but all is not lost.
If your preferred username is not available, you have a couple of choices. First, if you hold a registered trademark for the name, you can often submit supporting documentation and request that the existing username be handed over to you. This happened to us at Trackur when we finally decided to join Pinterest and pin our blog posts and other interesting news. Someone had already registered the Trackur username, which prevented us from registering it. A couple of weeks after submitting a trademark claim form to Pinterest, the username was handed over to us.
If you don’t have that option–say you’re trying to register something common such as “JohnSmith” or “RegencyRealEstate”–then you’re going to have to get a little creative. Just a little, though. Now is not the time to abandon your real name in favor of something nondescript or cute. Instead, try using variations of your desired name. Use something that includes your name alongside a descriptor. For example, “JohnSmithAttorney” or “RegencyRealEstateRaleigh.”
Building your audience
Once you have your blog and social networking profiles up and running, it’s time to decide which of those to invest in. I say “invest” because simply setting up a blog or Twitter account is not going to help you to improve your online reputation. You have to build it out with interesting and valuable content, and grow and nurture your audience.
Why should someone read, follow, like, share, or retweet you? For some of you, publishing a blog or posting a tweet will involve the bare minimum of effort. You’ll share a few updates, just enough to get the attention of Google, then never touch it again. You’ll see your content rise to the first 10 results in the search engines, be content with your reputation efforts, and take your foot off the gas. The problem with this approach is that you’re assuming that your reputation is static, Google’s algorithm never changes, and that you can just fire and forget.
Sorry, that’s just wishful thinking.
Your online reputation is always changing, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking. Merely posting a couple of items and calling it a job well done is naive at best, and risky at worst. By continuing to share valuable and insightful blog posts, tweets, and updates, you grow your audience. You nurture your centers of influence.
Spread yourself around
Before you reach for a brown paper bag, there’s no need to hyperventilate at the thought of growing and managing all possible social networking profiles on the web. Remember, you should focus your efforts on your centers of influence. This means investing time and effort only in those networks where you know your stakeholders tend to hang out. For many of you, your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn will make up the four pillars of your online reputation management efforts. That means that while you can’t completely ignore secondary social networks such as Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest, you also don’t have to spend your time growing and nurturing those communities.
Whichever social networks you decide require your focus, you will need to make sure that your pithy comments, insightful posts, and hilarious update don’t go unnoticed. You can do that by:
Linking to them – from your corporate or personal web site, make sure you link to your blog and social networking profiles.
Email signature – have each of your employees include a link to your blog or social profile, in the signature of their emails.
Your printed materials – your business cards, direct mail, and brochures should all include links to your blog and social networking profiles. Don’t just say “find us on Facebook.” Instead, include the full link to your Facebook profile, so they don’t have to find you!
Your TV and Radio ads – if you have the budget to run radio or TV ads, then include your social networking profiles. If someone is a fan of your brand, let them know where to connect with you.
This is not an exhaustive list. It serves as a reminder that “if you build it, they will come” only applies to baseball fields. For your blog and social profiles, you’re going to have to work hard to attract attention. The best way to do that is to be proactive in your efforts. However, there is a way to set up your social profiles and blog so that they grow your audience while you sleep, but we’ll get to that tomorrow. 😉