Whether your company is brand new or well-established, chances are you already have a digital identity on the web. But what exactly is an online presence, and how does it impact your business?
Your online presence encompasses all digital content and activity associated with your organization. This includes everything from your website and social media accounts, to online interactions, or any other digital mentions created by or about your business. In short, this concept refers to your digital reputation—if someone Googles your brand, it’s what comes up. No matter your target audience, they are doing their due diligence on your business. Recent reports show that 87 percent of consumers and 68 percent of B2B buyers prefer to research products and services online before purchase.
To assess and manage your online presence, use the following steps.
Owned Vs. Earned Online Presence
Unfortunately, some aspects of your digital identity are out of your control, which is why it’s important to understand the distinction between owned and earned online presence.
Your owned online presence is essentially any digital content that you create and publish under your company’s name, including:
- Your social media accounts
- Your blog
- Company listings (review sites, Google My Business, industry websites, etc.)
- Guest posts on external sites or publications
Because you can directly manage your owned online presence, you should ensure that all digital content and mentions of your business are in line with your strategic branding.
Alternatively, your earned online presence consists mainly of user-generated content (UGC). Earned digital content can range from reviews, comments on social media posts, and even Quora answers. While you cannot edit many of these mentions, they are important nonetheless. Negative reviews stop 40 percent of buyers from using a business, according to reports from Bright Local.
How To Audit Your Online Presence
Conducting an audit on your business’s online presence not only allows you to understand your public-facing identity, but it can also help you shape your future digital marketing strategy. Follow this simple step-by-step process to audit your brand’s digital persona.
1. Website and Content
Check your website to make sure that your messaging and branding comes across well to the user. Use our Basic SEO Checklist to ensure proper performance. Areas to focus on are page speed, mobile-friendliness, and unique content. These three items heavily affect your site’s user experience (UX), and thus a new visitor’s opinion of your business.
If your blog allows for comments, review your most recent posts for feedback. If necessary, remove any negative or spammy remarks.
2. Social Media
Check over all of your active social media profiles. Look at your most recent posts and follower response. If you see any negative comments, attempt to resolve them ASAP. Additionally, check your mentions and reviews on your social platforms. While it can be time-consuming to go through each mention, it’s a worthwhile activity to ensure there’s no negative social press that goes unaddressed.
3. Digital Reputation
First, create a Google Alert for your business name (as well as any variations, for example, both Kentucky Fried Chicken and KFC). This easy tool monitors any digital mention of your business and sends links as they appear on the web—an essential step to keep track of brand mentions.
Next, check your main local listings (Google My Business, Yelp, Bing, etc.). Make sure to respond to any negative reviews. You can also use YEXT to get a quick view of your current online presence and listings. For instance, you might have a profile on sites you didn’t know about.
Finally, Google your business name, as well as any of your public-facing leaders or managers to see what comes up. The leadership of your company also reflects on your business’s reputation, so it’s essential to monitor any negative or positive press about them as well.
Pro tip: If you need to overcome negative press or build authority in your space, consider exploring thought leadership strategies.
Brand Management For Long Term Success
Conducting an audit is a strong start. However, the most crucial part of maintaining a positive online presence (aka brand management) is ongoing maintenance. Approach brand management as you would quality control for a product. Every piece of digital content should support your company’s goals and reinforce your brand’s core messaging.
For company’s with heavy online traffic, consider hiring a dedicated brand manager who isn’t only reactive but also proactive in building your company’s digital identity and bolstering authority. Effective brand management can help your business:
- Build media relationships;
- Keep up with industry trends;
- Manage and prevent crises situations;
- Ensure consistent branding;
- Position your company and staff as thought leaders;
- Find new promotional opportunities.
Optimizing Your Online Presence and Building Your Brand
When it comes to business’s online presence and consistent brand management, you don’t want to take a lazy approach and merely delete negative comments. In the digital age, with the bulk of consumer research—and most business—taking place online, you should go above and beyond to position your brand as a leader in its space. Auditing your online presence and devising a brand management plan will help you acquire new leads and scale your business.
Need help developing a brand management strategy? Get in touch with a 10x branding expert today!