As ascension of social media continues, the strategies used to surface positive content and the web pages of sponsoring companies in reputation management campaigns are undergoing massive changes in terms of how they incorporate these networks. These changes are necessary due to the fact that sticking with a “business as usual” mindset will ultimately lead to failure in achieving even the most elemental objectives of any reputation management initiative.
The reasons a reputation management campaign will not reach its objectives without a social media presence include:
- The search engines see the search engine optimization (SEO) signals originating from social media networks as genuine and trustworthy – The community-like nature of social media networks makes it difficult for manipulative practices to have an influence on the algorithms used by the search engines to rank web pages. Conversely, the authenticity of shared content, “likes”, re-Tweets, and other actions that take place within the communities that exist on these networks gives these signals an increasing amount of influence in the ranking formulas used by Google, Bing, et al.
- The influence of traditional SEO practices on ranking algorithms is waning – Distributing low value and spun articles to a variety of “content farms” was targeted by Google’s Panda update and abusive link practices were hit by the Penguin update a little over a year later. While article marketing to 2.0 sites and the like still matters, it is playing a decreasing role in the determination of web page rankings. Similarly, the search engines have changed their evaluation of links to a much higher standard that requires authority and/or relevance between the site of origination and the destination page for the link. Without these characteristics, a high number of links have become basically irrelevant.
- In addition to the messaging that originates from businesses, reputations are being determined by conversations between community members – While the consumer-centric aspect of social media can at times seem like a moving target, the conversations that occur between network members can play a role in shaping company reputations. Being a party to these conversations help to keep them on a positive track and address potentially problematic issues before they morph into larger problems.
For reputation management campaigns to reach their objectives, participation in social media networks is mandatory. Additionally, this participation brings with it a long list of opportunities that can change the accounting status of reputation management from that of an expense to a series of online assets.