“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll
By this point, you’re likely chomping at the bit, ready to start improving your online reputation, but we still have much to do. Diving right in with a campaign is probably the single biggest mistake I see made by those anxious to improve their online reputation. Instead, you have to slow down and prepare a foundation that will allow you to build the best reputation possible. You wouldn’t build the world’s finest hotel, without first drafting up the architectural plans and laying the best possible foundation. The same applies to your online reputation.
It starts by understanding your goals. What exactly are you trying to achieve? Simply declaring, “I want to build a better reputation” isn’t going to cut it. We all want that! You have to be more deliberate in your efforts, and you have to follow the 3×30 rule.
Three goals in one
When setting goals for your online reputation campaign, it helps to divide them up into short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Specifically, I like to use the 3×30 approach.
30 days – what are your reputation goals for the next 30 days?
30 weeks – what are your reputation goals for the next 30 weeks?
30 months – you guessed it, what are your reputation goals for the next 30 months?
This 3×30 approach to reputation management will help you to understand your immediate needs, mid-term goals, and long-term strategy. Most of you will have some kind of short-term, urgent issue that needs to be addressed right away. The further out you plan, the more strategic and less tactical your goals will become.
Let’s take a look at an example:
30-day goal – our CEO is being attacked in a particular forum. We need to join the conversation, put out fires, correct inaccuracies, and stop the attacks from continuing.
30-week goal – we need to start positioning our CEO as a thought leader in our industry by publishing 10 blog posts she has authored, building a Twitter following of at least 2,000 fans that support her, and improving what shows up on the first page in Google, when you search her name.
30-month goal – we plan to have our CEO featured as a trusted source for print and TV news outlets. All negative search engine results will be pushed beyond the first three pages and she will speak at three conferences during the year.
These goals won’t be set in stone. Every 30 days you’ll need to come up with revised 30-day goal, which may also result in a change for your 30-week and 30-month goals. The key is to have a plan in place from the outset and commit to it for 30 days. After that, reevaluate, repeat if necessary, and adapt as you do, or do not, make progress.
Conduct a reputation audit
Once you’ve realized your 3×30 goals, you will need to take a benchmark reading of your online reputation. If your 30-day goal were to improve the sentiment towards your CEO in a particular forum, then you would start by measuring the number of positive mentions in that forum, versus any negative ones. In 30-days from now, conduct the same audit and see if you’ve pushed the reputation needle in the right direction.
If you’re trying to increase the number of Facebook fans you have, then that’s an easy number to calculate over the next 30 days. If you goal is to improve your influence and reach on Twitter, measuring your Klout.com score makes that task equally easy to complete. What else might you benchmark? Depending on the goals you’ve set forth, you could measure any of the following:
- Your average review rating on sites such as Amazon, Yelp, or TripAdvisor.
- The amount of positive results on the first page of Google.
- The number of backlinks pointing to your web site.
- The number of times your reputation is mentioned on a forum or message board.
- The amount of complaints received by your customer service team.
- The percentage of employees that approve of your CEO on Glassdoor.
The one goal we all share
As you can see, there are a number of different ways to measure the success of your online reputation campaign. That said, for the most part, there’s a common goal that unites us all. Money. While the social media gurus will tell you that your main goal should be to have a campfire singsong with your fans and detractors, it’s OK to admit that you’d like to make some money along the way. Sure, we all want to be liked, loved, cherished, or valued, but the main reason for improving your online reputation is that it increases your ability to generate more income.
A positive reputation leads to a higher salary, greater corporate revenues, or increases in online donations. We don’t have to be ashamed of ourselves for having that goal. Money is not the root of all evil, it’s what you do with it, when you get it, that causes many to fall.
When you draw up the goals for your online reputation, be honest with yourself about what it is you wish to achieve. Having more Facebook fans is not a worthy goal, unless you know what benefits those fans will actually bring you.