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Using Content to Build Your Online Reputation

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The phrase “content is king” has been tossed around marketing circles for nearly a decade. Not only does content help boost your business website’s SEO (search engine optimization) and allow you to create more of a meaningful connection with customers, it should also be considered one of your greatest assets for building a stronger overall online reputation.

You may already be thinking, “We have great reviews on YP, Google, and Yelp, so why do we need to create additional content as well?” The answer is simple: you want your business to be known just as much for the stellar service you provide (confirmed through online customer reviews) as it is for the knowledge and experience you bring to your given industry. This helps make your brand memorable and relevant to both current and future customers alike, helping to drive long-term customer loyalty, increased sales, and ongoing growth.

Don’t know where to start? No worries. Here are three primary content types that can help you build your online reputation in a big way. Try the one that suits your business most or try them all – whenever you build informative and engaging content, you’re likely to win with your customers.

Educational Content

  • Sentiment: “That business knows what they’re doing, and they’re so helpful!”

  • Deliverables: “How To” or “Tips and Tricks” blog posts, eBooks, downloadable guides

Being known as a company that’s both knowledgeable and helpful will help your online reputation soar. Think about some well-known brands that you follow. Do you regularly buy their products or services? Or have you simply become a fan of the interesting and informative content they post on social media and on their website? For example, if you’ve heard of Active.com, an online community of sports, fitness, and recreational activity enthusiasts, you know that the site is chock full of useful information covering all aspects of health and fitness. However, even though the site is focused on bringing like minded people together to participate in all sorts of recreational activities, you may have never signed up for any of those activities or even had a reason to purchase the event software they sell. Your relationship to that brand may be all about content.

The reason why I bring this up is because I worked for Active.com and helped develop a lot of the brand’s consumer-focused content. Almost without fail, whenever I told someone I worked there, they would say, “Oh yeah, I read an article by them a while ago – it was really helpful!” Case in point: content can make a lasting impact, whether or not it actually leads to a sale or some sort of transaction (although, let’s be honest, that’s almost always the end goal!).

To step up your educational content game, focus on developing long-form content filled with stats, facts, charts, graphics, infographics, and all sorts of other useful and actionable information. eBooks, downloadable guides, and well-researched blog posts – all at 1,000 – 2,000 words in length – are a good place to start. Check out Neil Patel’s long-form content guide before starting to write your first piece.

Although this type of content takes a bit longer to create, the long-term value associated with it – for both the benefit of your customers and your online reputation – is well worth your time. “Writing a comprehensive piece of content that tackles a topic in detail marks your brand as a thought leader in the industry,” says Amie Marse, founder of Content Equals Money. “It produces more site traffic and attracts people looking to learn more about a topic, and it will remain an important source of information far into the future.”

Shareable Content

  • Sentiment: “I’ve seen that brand pop up everywhere! Clearly, I should know more about it! ”

  • Deliverables: Blog posts, infographics (stats/facts), videos, images

Building a successful online reputation also involves driving brand awareness – more simply put, making your brand known outside of the immediate circle of your existing customers and followers. Attention-grabbing, shareable content that can be circulated through your social media channels and on your business website is a great way to do just that.

Even though it may seem as though all content can be shared, not all content is inherently shareable. There are actually seven factors that make people feel like they absolutely must share content.

If this is entirely new territory for your business, start by publishing at least one piece of shareable content per month across social media and on your blog – and then work up to 1-2 posts per week. Think of it this way: the more content you create that goes viral, the more eyeballs will be on your business. So, be sure to focus on the seven factors of shareable content (from above) and spend a little time thinking about what kind of action you want to drive from this content. Over time, you’ll learn what gets your followers engaging with your content like crazy as well as what falls flat. Pay attention to these important metrics; the more you know about the shareability of your content, the more effective you can be in creating content that goes viral. After all, as a local business owner, time is money. So, use it wisely.

Word-of-Mouth Content

  • Sentiment: “This business has a track record of success. I want to do business with them.”

  • Deliverables: Case studies, customer testimonials

Trust is earned when brands not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Your target customers want to work with local businesses that know a thing or two about their industry – and have solid proof to show off their experience, capabilities, or successes. Having content on hand that showcases this evidence of your business’s expertise is another great way to build your online reputation because it helps engender confidence and trust in what your business offers. In fact, for many consumers researching local businesses for the first time, this kind of content can go a long way in helping to evaluate and decide which business is most qualified to do the job.

A really great tool for showcasing your business’s success is the tried-and-true case study. “When you share a case study, you share a story about your brand’s expertise,” say the experts at Dashboard Internet Marketing. “Because case studies include actual customer experiences, potential customers learn from the stories how your brand might work with them.” And given that word-of-mouth reference is still one of the most effective marketing tactics for any business, case studies and customer testimonials alike can help build your business’s reputation in a big way.

Case studies and customer testimonials can be published on your own website, shared on your blog, sprinkled throughout your social channels, and pitched to local media. A strong case study supported by real examples and insightful (proprietary) data can sometimes even help you get featured in publications like the Huffington Post, Business Insider, or even the New York Times. Journalists love a good hook. Sharing data and insights that can’t be found anywhere else gives writers an opportunity to share a new and fresh perspective on a topic of interest.

Summing It Up

A business’s online reputation doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of work, on your part, to ensure that both your existing and potential customers – and beyond – know what your business is all about, what you bring to the table, and why they should trust you. This can’t happen if your voice isn’t heard. Content is a great and relatively easy way to build a reputation that, over time, will ultimately speak for itself.   

 

Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She's written for sites such as Lifehack, Salesforce, Manta, StartupNation, and more. When she's not working, she's enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

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