Whilst I’ve written a great deal in the past about how to promote your brand online, how to market your website, increase traffic and gain in the search rankings, we’ve missed out on a crucial aspect of online marketing. In fact it’s an important oversight because without attending to brand reputation, no amount of brand marketing will be of much benefit.

Let me explain. Brand marketing is all about getting your brand name out there, spread across the web, increasing its visibility so that both search engines and real people become very aware of it, which in turn increases the volume of traffic. But this is quite different from brand reputation. Brand marketing is about how much traffic you drive to your website. Brand reputation is how many customers are driven to your website. Notice the difference?

 

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Promoting brand reputation is an essential element of online marketing, yet it’s something which relatively few people have written about, and even fewer seem to be asking about. This doesn’t quite make sense, because a brand’s reputation is the only real way a business is going to be sustainable, and realise its full potential. If you’ve been spending too much time just promoting the name of your brand, read on to find out how you can focus a little more on quality rather than just quantity.

8 ways in which you can work harder on strengthening the reputation of your brand online;

1. First impressions count.

It’s an old one, but of course it’s just as important today – first impressions count, and they last. This means that no matter how much promotion you do online, a customer’s first experience of your business could be the one which makes the biggest impression. Based on that first impression they may look out for you, remember you, find out more, or subconsciously write you off and ignore you, no matter how good the quality of service or how low your prices.

The trouble is though that you never really know where people will come across their first impression of your brand. It could be a tweet, or a blog post. It might be a page on your website, or a forum post. Essentially what you need to do, every single time you publish or write anything, anywhere, is to consider how this would make people think about your brand if it was their first impression.

2. Persona.

The digital age has often witnessed a lack of personality. Websites always have to be written in the third person. Business tweets have to be formal, and blog comments written like a passage from a dissertation. Inject a little persona into your writing and your online posts and you’ll find that this actually strengthens the reputation of your brand.

3. Help, share and support.

A lot of online businesses spend a great deal of time marketing themselves, almost exclusively looking inwards. A much better way to develop a positive reputation is by offering help, advice and support, sharing tips with people. Look around and you’ll find that there are plenty of people asking questions and needing help. Offer it, and you’ll find people’s view of your brand is improved.

4. Show an interest in your demographics.

This might seem an odd one, but from time to time either through Twitter, Facebook, your blog or your website share a little information with people about who is coming to visit your site or your profile. Make it clear that you’re paying attention to who’s coming to see what you’re offering – show them you actually care about your visitors, and notice them.

5. Be brave enough to offer praise.

A hard thing for many people to do, especially those relatively new to online marketing, is to accept that there are people out there who are better than you, who thought about an issue before you did, or addressed a problem in a better way than you managed. By being big enough to praise them, thank them, recommend them and credit them you actually increase your own standing and reputation.

6. Blog reviews.

Be careful here, but if you receive reviews from customers, post them occasionally on your blog. Don’t just include the lavishly praiseworthy ones – be fair and balanced. This conveys honesty, and shows you listen to what people are saying.

7. Listen to what’s being said, and respond.

One of the easiest ways of boosting your online reputation is by becoming socially involved. Browse blogs and forums and leave relevant comments where you can. Don’t just dive into a blog for the first time, stick a comment up, and leave – never to darken the door again. Become a regular, active commenter, and you’ll find this gains respect.

8. Never hit ‘send’ or ‘publish’ until you’ve stood up.

One of the biggest risks when online is reacting, rather than responding. Whether it be what seems a witty observation or an angry accusation, it’s far too easy to click your mouse and wave goodbye to all your hard work raising your reputation online. Before you write or publish anything which might be in any way potentially controversial or liable to cause you regret later on, stand up, walk away from the keyboard, take a deep breath and ask yourself whether hitting that button will make you feel better, or shoot your hard won reputation down in seconds?

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