Why congruence is key to a solid online reputation

Why congruence is key to a solid online reputation

This is Day 10 of our new series: 30 days to a better online reputation. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a single important lesson![divider]

“The way to gain good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” Socrates

repped-day10It’s one thing to know your goals, your reputations, and your centers of influence, but do you know what it is you desire to appear? Put differently, does your online reputation have a clear and distinct voice? Not literally, although it would be nice if Morgan Freeman lent his voice to your reputation efforts, but if you were to ask your stakeholders to describe your brand, how would they describe it?

It’s vital to not only decide how you plan to present your reputation to your stakeholders, but to then actually stick with it. Too many reputations are unnecessarily muddled because there’s no congruence in the tone of voice used across different online and offline channels.

Finding your voice

If you look like a duck and quack like a duck, then you’ll always have a reputation for being a duck. However, you can decide what type of duck you portray. Daffy, Donald, and Howard are all ducks, but each has a distinct personality, a different style. If you’re a bank, then you need to instill trust, security, and responsibility, but the way Wells Fargo goes about that task is completely different to Ally Bank.

So, how do you find your reputation’s style? It’s voice? It goes back to your character. However you decide to portray your reputation online, it shouldn’t be so far removed from your character that you essentially have to fake it each and every day. It should be something that is authentic and easy to maintain, while at the same time appealing enough to attract new customers and other stakeholders.

Build a reputation style guide

style guideUntil you become comfortable with your reputation’s voice, you should probably jot down some notes on how you do, and do not, wish to come across in your social media activities. Branding executives often create a style guide that documents every detail of how best to use the company’s logo. It’s precise height and width proportions. Not just the color, but the exact pantone or hexadecimal notation is documented. The style guide is especially important during the launch or re-design of a logo, but over time is less relied upon as the company becomes familiar with its own identity. In a similar manner, you should create your reputation’s style guide.

Some things to consider for your reputation style guide:

  • How do we naturally communicate with our stakeholders?
  • What do our stakeholders expect from us?
  • What’s the typical demographic we’re trying to reach?
  • Are we family friendly, or are we edgier than that?
  • Will we engage in conversations about politics or religion?
  • Do we have any legal or industry restrictions on what we can or cannot say?

Creating a style guide for your online reputation will help solidify the voice you will use in your blog, in social media, and in more formal communications such as your press releases. Even if you never look at it again, the mere act of creating it will help you to better understand how you wish to appear online.

Your Twittervator pitch

Now that you have a better understanding of how you wish to portray yourself online, it’s time to craft your first Twittervator pitch. Why yes, I did just totally make up that word. Rename it if you wish, but the key is to take the traditional elevator pitch—an explanation of who you are, so succinct, you could share it in a 30 second elevator ride—and turn it into something you can use online. Twitter allows you to use only 140 characters in each tweet, teaching you to get our message across in just a sentence or two. Therefore, it makes sense to combine your elevator pitch with Twitter’s restrictions. Draft up different ways of describing yourself in just 140 characters and then pick the one you feel best fits your voice and your goals. And yes, it’s okay if you have to stretch it to 160 characters.

Being congruent

congruenceOnce you have your Twittervator pitch—I promise, that is the last time I will use that word today—you can start building out your online profiles using it and your reputation style guide. I don’t just mean take your pitch and plaster it across your blog and social media channels. Instead, use it as a starting point to build congruence in your online reputation efforts. The avatar you use, your cover photo, your bio, your initial posts; they should all tie back to your pitch.

This deliberate effort to be congruent will ensure that your stakeholders receive a consistent experience with your reputation, no matter where they connect with you. Certainly, you should adapt it slightly to suit the nuances of each channel—you may be slightly more whimsical on Pinterest than you are on LinkedIn—but don’t stray too far from your reputation’s style guide. You have many different centers of influence and while you need to appeal to each audience, you should do so by remaining authentic.

Avoid the quick thrill

In your efforts to be authentic, to follow your reputation style guide, you will likely get frustrated that things are not growing quickly enough. You look around the web and you see that GoPro is growing its audience rapidly by posting cool videos, or that George Takei is insanely popular because he’s always posting humorous cartoons and photos. As you see your own audience grow at a painfully slow pace, you may be tempted to post that salacious photo or share that popular meme. Don’t! Seriously, just don’t do it. Unless that is the reputation that you wish to build, then don’t take shortcuts in an effort to build an audience quickly. All you will accomplish is the fleeting attention of a transient audience with no interest in buying your product, using your service, or employing you.

You don’t have to share sensational content that has little benefit to the reputation you are trying to build. Instead, you can build you own amazing content. Content that will not just attract attention, but the attention of those in your centers of influence. Those that will help you meet your reputation goals.

On Day 11 you’ll learn how.

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.