Digital marketing has opened lots of new opportunities to big and small businesses. And yet, it has come with some risks as well, including an increased and always looming danger of a reputation crisis.
As the consumers’ expectations are growing and the cancel culture is getting stronger, any brand’s odds of being publicly disapproved and criticized is getting only stronger.
You can solidify your brand’s reputation by managing your brand’s footprint.
What is a digital footprint?
Simply put, digital footprint is anything your company does online. This may include public comments, posts, updates, and even likes or comments.
Digital footprint may come from your business entities or from your company’s official representatives.
When it comes to digital footprint, every little thing counts. Imagine that your company’s representative likes a controversial political post and your brand is called out. There’s no easy way to avoid political controversy in these cases.
Keeping a close eye on your digital footprint is the only way to avoid situations like this.
How to evaluate your company’s footprint?
Depending on how active you and your employees are online, it may not be an easy task to evaluate your existing company’s footprint. But this still needs to be done.
- Start with your brand name searches.
- What may your potential customers find when researching your company online?
- Search for your brand name on Google, and review at least three first pages of results.
- Look for things that stand out, like rich snippets and video carousels. Watch out for any negative sentiment that can draw searchers’ attention.
If your brand name is searched a lot, keep an eye on those suggestions Google is serving for your name. These may distract and change your customers’ buying journeys, so you need to make sure your company’s sentiment is positive in each set of these branded SERPs:
- Quora: What’s the brand’s sentiment there? Which questions are being asked about your brand? Which context mentions your brand?
- Twitter: Even if you are monitoring your brand on Twitter, you may still be missing some untagged mentions
Ask your public reps (those people who tend to speak on your company’s behalf) to run the same quick audits of what kind of footprint they are leaving online.
It is also a good idea to run your brand name through Text Optimizer to identify what your brand name is associated with:
How to manage your brand’s footprint?
The earlier you start managing your brand’s footprint, the easier your previous step is going to be.
Step 1: Set up your brand’s communication guidelines
Your brand’s communication policy is a document detailing what your employees should and should not be saying on your brand’s behalf.
Even small brands should set a communication policy up for their small team to be able to navigate online communication safely.
A brand’s communication policy should include:
- Guidelines on how to write emails to clients (even things like a proper introduction can make all the difference when it comes to business emails)
- Topics to avoid in public communication (i.e. on your website and social media channels). These include controversial humor, politics, etc.
- Your company’s information that can be made public (e.g. behind-the-scenes photos can be published on Instagram) and which details should remain private (e.g. your company’s income)
If your brand works with freelancers or affiliates, you should create similar guidelines for them to use too.
It is also a good idea to encourage your employees to add a public disclaimer to their social media profiles saying that their social media updates are their own, and are not made on behalf of the company they otherwise represent during their work days.
Step 2: Set up your brand name monitoring
You may already have that set up but most social media monitoring routines tend to miss some brand mentions, like common misspellings, untagged mentions, brand names spelled as separate words, product name etc.
Awario’s boolean search feature will help you catch all of those within one monitoring task:
Step 3: Create more branded assets to better control your online sentiment
Finally, based on your findings when auditing your footprint, create more assets that will be able to rank for those search queries containing your name. These include videos, infographics, social media channels, etc.
For most popular and important queries, like those exploring your company’s reviews, consider creating off-site assets for you to control more of those results. Namify will help you find and register domain names to use to host your off-site content targeting branded search.
You can use those mini-sites to curate your customers’ feedback or address your customers’ questions. Brand-driven sites are pretty easy to rank for branded search because normally the competition is very low for those queries. All it takes is to create optimized content and link to those assets from your site footer.
Getting things under control will make your brand safer. But it will also let you uncover issues to fix and customer-centric tactics to include in your marketing strategy.