Online reputation management: How do social media platforms shape how we portray ourselves online?
The representation of the self online has always been an area I have found fascinating, especially as my own use of online platforms began to grow.
For my Leeds Beckett University degree course dissertation I explored how we are able to choose the way we represent ourselves online through my thesis, ‘How do new media platforms shape the ways in which we portray ourselves online?’ I’ll share my findings later in this post.
Since leaving university to work in digital marketing, I have focused my interest in how the same outcomes could be achieved in a business context through the clever use of social media platforms. At jrc.agency, we have a sound understanding of the impacts that online reputation management can have on businesses, regardless of their size or industry sector. We manage social media accounts on behalf of a number of clients for whom reputation management is the key to the success of their business.
81% of shoppers do online research before buying
Research carried out by MineWhat highlighted that a staggering 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying a product or service from a business. This highlights how important online reputation management (ORM) is for businesses who operate online. Negative online reviews, lack of online presence or a negative online presence can have a real impact on businesses.
In this blog post, I will share discoveries made throughout my dissertation thesis, and explore how the same ideas can be used by businesses when using social media to engage, connect and communicate with their audiences. I will also give some general online reputation management tips for business owners to consider.
How do new media platforms shape the ways in which we portray ourselves online?
When carrying out the research for my thesis, I explored three key new media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn and Match.com to analyse the ways in which users are able to portray their self across personal, business and romantic platforms. Insights from two of these are detailed below.
Facebook and the portrayal of the online personal self
Facebook constantly encourages users to actively create a personal self, through pop ups, questions and other tactics that encourage users to reveal increasingly detailed information about themselves. The majority of participants in my research noticed and agreed with this, also saying the platform encouraged them to reveal more information about themselves than they would like or would normally do in offline situations. While users may feel uncomfortable sharing it, this detailed information is useful for businesses who wish to target and segment based on demographics and user preferences and interests.
LinkedIn and the portrayal of the online business self
LinkedIn was an interesting social media platform to both analyse and gather participant information on. Again, the business self that is created is largely shaped by the platform itself. For example, the more information the user provides whilst completing their profile, the higher their profile is ranked, which subsequently ensures their profile is more easily found on the platform. Of course, this can be turned to a professionals’s advantage should they choose to raise their LinkedIn ranking by achieving 100% profile completion, 500+ connections, regular sharing of profile statuses and blog posts etc. (For more LinkedIn tips for business, check out Jonny’s post on LI Chris Brown’s talk.)
Online reputation management is something that every business, regardless of their size, industry sector or location, should be aware of. Google defines the term as meaning:
“Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update”
But how do you take these ideas and use them to create a positive online reputation for your business?
Understanding how your business is represented online and offline, can be the difference between success and failure. Taking all of this into account, what are the key things you need to know about online reputation management?
1. Ensure that you have an understanding of your online presence
It is crucial that business owners are aware of what is published by and about their business online. Whether this is blog content, guest blog posts, social media posts or even simply engaging with your audience online. As well as monitoring what others say about you online, you should plan and schedule the creation and distribution of regular content about your business, which you can control. An editorial calendar will help you to do this.
2. Don’t delete negative comments
It can be particularly difficult to deal with negative comments about your business online. However, the most damaging thing you can do, is delete these comments. Instead, engage with the comments to show you are listening to customers and try to solve their problems. To decrease the significance of negative comments, seek to continually post fresh, exciting and engaging content for your audience to interact with, and ask happy customers to leave positive comments.
3. Regularly monitor what others are saying about you
Whilst it is vitally important to engage with your audience and post content online, it is also important to take some time to monitor how your business is being spoken about online. Whilst this may make some feel uncomfortable, it provides you with a great opportunity to be able to engage directly with those who have provided you with negative feedback.
4. When thinking about ORM, consider offline reputation management too
It is extremely easy to just think about your online reputation when considering ORM, however, more often than not, how your business behaves offline, will impact how your business is spoken about online.
5. Ensure you have a strong online presence
One of the best ways to ensure your business has a positive online reputation is to ensure you have a strong online presence. Businesses who are actively engaging with their audience on different social media platforms, posting regular, original content and engaging directly with their target audience will develop a positive online reputation.
It is as the saying goes, people will speak about you whether you are in the room or not, so you may as well make sure you are there for the conversation! This idea couldn’t be more accurate when considering your online reputation management.
If ORM is a completely alien idea but something that you would like more information on then do not hesitate to get in touch! Whether you need some guidance with regards to what it is you should be doing, implementing some techniques or even if you just simply want to talk to someone – we love to hear from you so either leave your comment below or send us a tweet! Have you found this topic interesting? Have you been through the process yourself? What challenges have you had to overcome in managing your own online reputation? Please share your comments below.
Blog post by Katy Stuart, Account Manager at jrc.agency