How Can Social Media Help Business Strategy?

Social media is one of the most important, fastest growing parts of the internet. This term loosely refers to platforms and apps that allow users to create and share content, whilst at the same time participate in social networking. At first glance, social media might seem to be geared toward private individuals, but more and more businesses are finding these platforms to be a vital marketing asset.

Professional social media pages are key in any reputation management strategy. At Reputation Defender we help company brands to boost their online profile by improving search rankings and presenting a positive cohesive brand message. Official social media profiles are a target page one result, as well as a place to promote other content.

Social Media for Business

Business focused social media is all about using social channels to connect and engage with customers and build long term relationships. Of the many social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most important for focusing an initial business strategy.

The social media audience is vast. Globally, 1.55 billion people use Facebook per month; about 72 percent of all people active on the internet. Of these, 70 percent say they interact on a daily basis. By contrast, only 38 percent of Twitter users and 22 percent of LinkedIn account holders are active daily. None the less, Twitter is one of the most popular microblogging platforms with 341 million active monthly users, whilst LinkedIn is largely seen as the most official social media business directory.

Facebook

A business Facebook profile offers a chance to interact with customers on a personal level via a trusted platform. Followers will begin to see the business in the same way they view their friends. They’ll look forward to regular posts that are genuine and thoughtful.

At the same time, Facebook offers a way for new clients to find out important details about your business such as location, history and contact info. It’s important to claim your brand name as a keyword and link back to the company website through your business profile. You can also add a “Like us on Facebook” button to the company website. Facebook will offer different templates depending on the type of business to let you target the audience you want to reach.

Many Facebook features are designed to make the platform accessible and useful for business purposes. Call to action buttons introduced in 2014 offer suggestions for customer activity such as “contact us”, “book now” or “sign up.” One click will take the client straight to the desired page, so this is a very effective way of driving traffic to your website. Typical business posts can share brand-based videos, images and blog articles. A Facebook page can also be used to advertise a special offer or promote client feedback. Sponsored advertising campaigns disseminate material even more efficiently and ensures that all followers see all your posts, while Facebook Analytics will help to pinpoint your current activity level and target improvement.

Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter can be used to interact with customers, promote material and increase awareness for your product. A business profile should promote the business name, target an important keyword and link back to the official company website. A logo and other professional images can give the account a more personal touch.

Tweets can be leveraged for business purposes by promoting a specific marketing message. Tools such as TweetDeck and Periscope allow for multimedia tweets, while the hashtag system targets a specific topic zone. Like Facebook, Twitter offers paid advertising for businesses that want to maximize the marketing aspect of their account and Twitter Analytics offers tools for analyzing strategies and measuring success.

LinkedIn

As a professional networking site, LinkedIn carries more authority than Facebook or Twitter. This platform offers the opportunity to connect with colleagues and industry leaders, recruit potential employees and gain referrals. Managers will need a personal page to set up a business profile on LinkedIn, so this is the perfect opportunity to build your own career along with the company’s reputation. A Premium Account offers enhanced opportunities for profile viewing and targeted searches.

Like Facebook and Twitter, a business profile on LinkedIn should include all the company’s details and link back to the website. LinkedIn allows several different administrators, so it’s easy to delegate account management tasks to other employees. Showcase Pages on LinkedIn lets you target additional keywords and highlight specific company products and services. You can also post job applications and send targeted email marketing.

Fine-tune Your Profiles

In contrast to traditional advertising, social media is about connecting personally with customers whilst sharing the brand message. Especially on Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to strike a balance between promotion and providing genuinely interesting content that will make people want to follow your page.

  • Keep advertising in check – Out of 7 posts, only 1 should be obviously promotional.
  • Ask questions – Find out which industry related topics interest your followers the most.
  • Post fun facts – You’ll gain authority and help clients learn more about what you do.
  • Provide valuable tips – People will keep following to learn more.
  • Offer rewards – Organize a contest or offer points for virtual check-ins at your business.

A dedicated group of social media followers is a valuable reputational asset for any business. It increases customer retention and provides a long term client base which will help to counteract negative publicity in the future.

What Is Off-Page SEO?

You’ve probably heard the terms “on-page” and “off-page” SEO. On-page SEO is individual page optimization aimed at improving search engine ranking. It includes techniques such as keyword usage, meta-tags and webpage analytics, as well as basic content quality and formatting. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is a bit harder to pinpoint. Off-page SEO is often associated “with link-building, but it is not only that.” Off-page SEO can include any rank building activity not carried out on or related to the page itself. At Reputation Defender we use many off-page techniques to help make sure the internet is reflecting an accurate and positive image of the client’s brand name.

How SEO Professionals Influence Ranking

Google discloses many direct ranking signals that can automatically improve search results. Of these, keyword usage, language and load speed are on-page factors controlled directly by the administrator, whilst incoming or backlinks are the most important off-page factor. SEO professionals do not just focus on direct ranking signals however; they also employ many indirect methods to add incoming links and boost search results placement. These off-page techniques can include anything from activity carried out elsewhere on the web, to physical location-based networking.

Some Off-Page Techniques and How They Work

Off-page techniques are aimed at increasing interest on your site which will boost organic links, either directly or indirectly.

  • Become a guest writer for other blogs – Anytime you generate content on another domain it can be linked back to your site, however incoming links hosted by a third-party will have added authority. You’ll also gain a new audience that may visit your site regularly and add other links.
  • Build Relationships – Guest blogging will be more effective if it’s reciprocal. Offer to host another author or share their content in return for a slot on their site.
  • Co-occurrence and co-citation – If a page mentions your brand in connection with an important keyword, Google will associate them and this will help to raise the site’s ranking for that term. This can also occur as a citation when an article mentions both your site and another that is more authoritative in your industry.
  • Interact with your audience – Figure out the brand’s target audience and then a devise a way to connect with these people. Social media pages are a prime example. Follower feedback will let you know what clients are looking for and help you design content that serves their needs. Encouraging followers to share your pages will directly add to incoming links.
  • Add value to the discussion – Share your expertise with clients in ways that will really help them. Reddit is an excellent site for going beyond marketing and posting in-depth content on topics that really matter to people. It may take longer to gain a following in this way but genuinely good content is more likely to attract long-term clients who read, share and link-to your content.
  • Advertising – Basic, old-fashioned advertising is actually an off-page SEO technique. If you don’t let people know about your brand, they won’t be able to look you up online. This can take the form of flyers, billboards, business cards etc. Make sure the website is listed in large letters with a tag directing clients online for more information.
Don’t Forget On-Page SEO

Off-page SEO won’t work unless you’ve already put work into optimizing the sites internal pages and ensuring quality content. It’s important to interlink target SEO pages according to hierarchy so that incoming links to the homepage will transfer SEO throughout the entire site. Pages that are visually striking and contain quality readable content with appropriate keywords will also be more likely to attract organic links and mentions. For more on on-page and off-page SEO, talk to the experts at Reputation Defender.

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Blogging Advice from the Experts

Online blogging is a good way for young journalists to develop their skill and gather a following of readers. However, there are some pitfalls to avoid. The chances of being sued for an internet journal with a few followers is low, but, all the same, anything published online is open to scrutiny. Even an obscure blogger is subject to the same laws as any other writer. If you go on to develop a high-profile career, someone could track down your college blog and use it to damage your reputation.

At Reputation Defender, we encourage our clients to draw attention to their brand via blog articles. However, a blogging error can cause legal issues and create a scandal – the opposite of the desired effect.

Continue reading for some of the latest advice from legal experts and industry professionals.

  • Stealing is stealing – Roni Loren is a bestselling US romance writer who keeps a regular blog. In 2014, she was sued for using a copyrighted picture from Google images. Like many bloggers, she regularly used internet images and included a disclaimer making it clear she didn’t take credit and would take the images down upon request. When contacted by the author of a copyrighted picture, she immediately removed it, but this didn’t stop her from being sued for compensation. Loren has moved past the issue and now has an impeccable search engine result page. Based on her own experience, she recommends bloggers avoid taking public images unless they clearly have a Creative Commons-license or are part of the public domain. When in doubt, use your own pictures or purchase images from stock photos.
  • Avoid defamation – Defamation and libeling is something we deal with a lot at Reputation Defender. Done with malicious intent, it can seriously damage someone’s reputation, but, just like Roni Loren, bloggers won’t necessarily be judged on their intent. Tom Felle, a former journalist and lecturer at City University in London, cautions students that they are “still subject to the defamation act when writing online”. Forceful language about a person or issue can easily cross the line and be interpreted as defamation. According to UK law, if someone sues you it will be up to you to prove that what you said was justifiable, so it’s easier to avoid making statements you can’t back up.
  • Separate factual statements from opinions – Claire de Than, Senior lecturer at City University law school points out that “bloggers often have the defense of an honest opinion” but this only applies if they “make it clear” when they are talking about real events and when they are making a personal judgement. On a professional blog, it’s best to avoid controversial issues as much as possible, but if you feel a strong need to express your feelings, phrases like “I believe,” “I think, ”or “it seems clear to me” will signal that you’re about to draw a subjective conclusion.
  • Get the facts straight – Of course, none of this will matter if you don’t get the facts right in the first place. Alex Veeneman is the managing editor of Kettlemag; an online platform that publishes the work of student writers. He tells his students, “It’s better to be right than first”. Stick to reliable sources that can be corroborated. If you break a juicy story and it turns out later to be false, this will hurt your credibility and ultimately tarnish your reputation.

If you follow this advice, you’ll find blog articles are a great way to manage your reputation and build your skill as a writer.

5 steps you need to take to not be affected by social media screening

Social media plays an important role in today’s world.  Reputation Defender has covered many times how social media plays a role a company’s online reputation.  But what does it do for Joe Shmo?  It’s where we get the latest news from.  We turn to it to follow our favorite people.  We use it to share our interests with the world.  Social networks give others insight into our personality and our views of what happens all around us.  It has become so much more than a place to reconnect or stay in touch with loved ones and old pals.  Our social media profiles have become, whether we like it or not, our business cards. Social media screening has become almost standard practice for many companies in deciding whether to bring someone on or not.  There is an ongoing debate whether looking at a candidate’s online presence is ethical or not.  This is something for another day.  Those looking for employment need to understand that social media matters when applying for a job and they should take steps to make sure what companies find online is not too controversial.

Step 1:  Clean up your existing profiles.

Pictures.  Posts.  Likes.  People you follow.  These are just four things companies look at when they decide to check your profiles out.  Doing so is the best bet companies have to get some first-hand and authentic insight into who you really are.  Why should does your private life matter to a company? Good question to ask.  You need to keep in mind that businesses want to hire people who convey traits such as responsibility, respect for their surroundings, honesty, and seriousness.  A couple of pictures holding a bottle of tequila in one hand in an obvious drunken state could show companies that you like to go out more than they would like their employees to.  An extremely negative or radical comment on a controversial issue is a red flag for a lot of companies looking to hire.

Therefore, cleaning up your digital image is the first thing you need to do in order to show a more professional side of yourself.  A side companies want to bring on board.  Take down any images that could be seen as damaging or inappropriate.  Look back on your posts and eliminate any that can label you as someone no one would like to be associated with.  Finally, set your privacy settings so that only you and nobody else can see who your friends are.  That’s right, companies are not only going to look at your profile.  Your acquaintances also give them an idea of who you are.

Step 2:  Stop venting your issues at your current job.

Many people make the crucial mistake of complaining about their current work situation.  If you’re one of them, you need to stop it immediately.  Dirty laundry should be washed in house.  What you say online about your company affects its online reputation.  It’s that simple.  Posting about your current company shows that you don’t really care where you work and that you are only looking out for yourself.  Not a desirable trait my friend.

Step 3: Follow the right people and share the right stuff.

Start following people and interests that are related with how you project yourself in the labor market.  Puppy videos and inspirational memes are fine every once in awhile, but they shouldn’t be what the majority of your posts are about.  Make your profiles more professional.  Show companies that you really care about growing professionally.  And don’t just share.  Comment on those posts and give a well thought out opinion with arguments.  And for Pete’s sake, watch your grammar.

Image courtesy of Esther Vargas at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Esther Vargas at Flickr.com

Step 4:  Take advantage of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the leading site for professionals to connect with companies and other professionals.  Wanting to get a job and not having a LinkedIn profile is like having a car without fuel.  There’s no way it’ll work.  Your social media profiles are great at showcasing you as a person.  However, professional and personal profiles should be separate. LinkedIn is all about who you are professionally.  Take to it to express your qualifications, experience, and expectations.  You can also stay up to date with the latest trends in making your resumé much more attractive.

Step 5:  Control your privacy

Every major social network lets users take complete control of what they choose to share and with whom.  If you find it impossible to stop sharing what you like but which could be seen by some as inappropriate, then tweak your settings so that only you and a group of trusted people can see it.  Remember, what’s ok and harmless (even funny) for you can be offensive for others who don’t know or understand the context in which you posted something.

Social media is a factor in determining which candidates are apt for a company and which ones aren’t.  Unfortunate as that may be, it is still the truth.  Professionals who are looking to get hired must have social media profiles that highlight their strengths and show companies they are the perfect person to hire and add to their reputation rather than take away from it.

Do athletes have to worry about online reputation?

Athletes make millions of dollars a year doing what they love.  Why should they be worried about their online reputation? After all, fans go to see them excel at their sport, not because of how they behave off the court.  That’s not true.  Maybe in the past where media exposure was relatively tame and society was a little more free-spirited, even careless.  In 2016, the perception of an athlete goes well beyond what he or she does on the field.  They have become role models for future generations as well as marketing gold for publicists and their teams.  And sadly, it’s marketing where athletes online reputation can either bring them more or less additional income.

We are seeing how athletes have started to be marketed as a brand and not as much as an athlete.  While some deny branding is not part of who they are, it’s still an undeniable fact in today’s society.  Athletes sell more than just jerseys or shoes.  LeBron James. Cristiano Ronaldo.  David Beckham.  These are just three of the most known athletes who have become much more than a player on a team.  The first two are probably the most polarizing ones we have ever known.  Everything they do or say is constantly being scrutinized.  Every little action has an impact on how society in general perceives them.

Thick skin.  This is a must for an athlete to maintain his or her reputation.  There will always be a journalist who will look at the negatives of an athlete.  Some have even made a living out of bashing athletes.  The fan who has premium seats and goes to heckle the visiting team?  That’s also never going away.  Athletes need to learn to shut out the noise and understand that haters are going to hate and there’s nothing they can do about it.  Losing one’s cool over some words intended to provoke an emotional response (usually negative) are not an option for an athlete.  Doing so could lead to cultivating a reputation as someone who becomes aggressive when things get tough.  That’s not something teams and agencies are willing to sell and families are not interested in buying.

Another quality athletes must have to protect their online reputation is humility.  Families don’t want their child to emulate someone who thinks too much of him or herself.  Confidence is one thing.  Arrogance is another.  Arrogance can lead to a reputation as being extremely hard to work with.  Additionally, followers on social networks might decline after a while of looking down on others.  Once again, not a good selling point for marketers.

Image courtesy of Tanja Cappell at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Tanja Cappell at Flickr.com

Then there are social networks.  Tweeting.  Posting.  Snapchatting.  Liking. Pinning.  Name the social network and you are sure to find an athlete on there as an active participant.  Social media is perhaps the biggest tool athletes have going for them when it comes to boosting online reputation.  The fans and general audience get to see that they have a human side and that they are not only dedicated to putting the ball in the hoop or scoring a touchdown.  As with any powerful tool, if it is not used correctly there could be some serious consequences.  Athletes sometimes forget the influence they have on younger generations.  One tweet could be enough to start a movement.  Posting positive content shows the world an athlete cares about the people around him or her and that it’s not all about making money but doing something with it to affect change.  Here is where it becomes tricky to be an athlete on social media.  It’s no secret that the major sports leagues make athletes participate in social campaigns.  Many athletes have even started charities but it seems more to make it seem as if they are trying to do something rather than actually doing so.  So, how do you come off as sincere and not have your actions taken as a publicity stunt?  Commitment. That’s all it takes really.  Athletes need to be committed to the causes they fight for and be active participants in the community.  With time, people will notice the athlete’s actions are genuine.

Going back to the marketing side of positive online reputation, athletes can generate much more extra income if there’s a positive perception of them.  Contracts have been lost once scandal hits an athlete.  Tiger Woods.  Michael Vick.  Lance Armstrong.  Three of the greatest athletes in their respective sports have lost millions in endorsement deals after word came out that they weren’t as wholesome as they claimed to be.  For them, their reputation has become associated with scandal just as much as with their athletic prowess.   Unfortunately, an athlete’s private life will always be in the eye of the public, whether they like it or not and they will be well served to behave if they want to keep making money.

Reputation Defender recommends the post “How to start using ORM” to discover why managing your online reputation is important.