Don’t underestimate the power of a brand reputation. It may seem like a less tangible metric than something like inbound traffic or even raw social media followers, but less measurable doesn’t necessarily mean less important. Your brand reputation affects whether people click on your links when you syndicate them, whether they trust you enough to buy your product, and whether they love you enough to tell their friends about you. There are dozens of levels of consumer brand trust, and each one provides an important (yet hard-to-measure) benefit, so even a small increase in brand reputation can make a big impact on your bottom line.
The trouble is, brand reputation takes time and effort to build. You’ll have to adopt these seven strategies, at a minimum, to develop that reputation over the long term:
This should be part of your content marketing strategy already; if it’s not, you’ve got some work to do. You may already be writing “good” content (answering user questions, striving for originality, utilizing multiple mediums, etc.), but original research is the fastest way to build a reputation. By its nature, it’s original and valuable, and if you syndicate it properly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to generate tons of new inbound links. People will recognize you as an authority just by virtue of your research, plus you’ll get lots of domain authority from those links, propelling you forward in search rankings and increasing your visibility further.
Rather than putting all of your work on your own site or a small selection of outside sources, publish to as many outside sources as possible (as long as they’re somewhat relevant for your brand). This will greatly increase your visibility and expose you to new readers who might have previously been unfamiliar with your brand. This will also lend you a compounding effect; the more people see your brand the more authority they’ll imbue you with and the more familiar they’ll become with your work. The diverse range of backlinks you earn is an added bonus.
When you’re working on a mass marketing strategy, engaging with people on an individual level may seem time consuming or nitpicky, but it’s well worth the effort. When you receive comments on blog posts, messages, new followers, or any other form of engagement, go out of your way to respond. Talk to individual people, and avoid using canned or clichéd messages—speak from the heart. This will sharply increase the loyalty of those lone audience members, and more importantly demonstrate your personable nature to others who may be seeing your public interactions. There is no downside here.
If you want to boost your reputation, one of the best ways is to leverage the reputation of someone who’s already built one. These are called “influencers,” high-profile authorities with notoriety, respect, lots of followers, and a connection to your industry. How you network with them is up to you—you can exchange guest blog posts, have public chats about various industry topics, or even host interviews with each other. It’s an opportunity for mutual exposure, and you’ll find your audience size and loyalty increasing with each engagement.
Encourage your users to be vocal, and respond to their feedback with meaningful action. For example, if one of your users asks for a follow-up to one of your popular blog posts, write one. If a user complains that there’s a mobile issue with your website, fix it—or at least look into it. The obvious benefit here is that it shows you care and increases the loyalty of those making the requests and complaints, but it also proactively fixes issues the rest of your audience might be holding back from you.
Take time every week to scout the reviews of your brand and individual products. This means checking your own pages for user-submitted reviews (assuming you have a review function) as well as looking at third party directory pages. Follow up on positive reviews, and use them to learn what you’re doing right. Try to make up for and apologize for negative reviews, and use them to learn what you can improve. Doing this will gradually improve your reputation, and might even give you a boost in local SEO.
People trust other people more than they trust organizations or brands, so encourage your users to submit as much content as they can. This includes reviews, testimonials, critiques, responses, and even media submitted as part of a contest. If a person sees lots of other people engaging with and participating in your brand, they’ll think more highly of you. Diversify your strategy here by encouraging different types of content across different initiatives.
It will be hard to measure any change in your overall brand reputation, especially as factors like traffic and conversions grow alongside it, but pay attention to key indicators. Conduct a survey on people’s opinions on your brand. Pay attention to the types of reviews you receive. Have a conversation with your best clients. Use social listening and observe users’ interactions with you. You’ll find an objective improvement in the span of mere months—and you can only keep growing from there.