Trust is an interesting concept online, isn’t it? The Internet has quickly become the most desirable resource for information. We, as consumers, depend on websites, stranger reviews and much, much more for answers and tips ranging from sickness to brand recommendations.
Remember the “French Model” State Farm commercial from a couple of years ago? We all laugh when we see it, but do we really believe that “They can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true”?
Today, with so much information online, discerning the credible and the non-credible can be quite the challenge, which is why reputation management plays such a vital role. What are people saying about you and your business? Is it accurate? Unfortunately, a lot of the information online is not.
What’s even more unfortunate is the fact that a lot of misinformation is done in the name of marketing! Now, there are marketing tactics that can be done to build a reputation online. But, these are very different from the culprits behind the fake reputation builders, also known as crowdturfers. These fake reputation builders on social media have grown similar to the content farms that plagued the search industry a few years back.
A paper was released recently that outlines this behavior. In partial support from Google, researchers from Utah State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University came together to not only shed light on the serious matter that it is, but to also offer solutions for detecting this behavior.
“Automatically detecting crowdturfing gigs is an important task because it allows us to remove the gigs before buyers can purchase them, and eventually, it will allow us to prohibit sellers from posting these gigs,” the paper reads. “To detect crowdturfing gigs, we built machine-learned models using the manually labeled 1,550 gig dataset.”
While these fast reputation-building techniques may be tempting, they don’t win. Especially since this new research shows how to detect them, they will be even less effective. In order to truly win in this game, you must build a viable reputation the old-fashioned way – through hard work. While it is hard work, it’s not as difficult as you may think. In all honesty, building reputation and influence in today’s digital world can actually happen rather quickly.
Do your research
For starters, you have to know what’s already out there. Conduct market research. Google yourself and your brand. Do you like what you find? Are your public profiles up to date and consistent? This is the logical starting place to understand what needs improving before you start making changes. Otherwise, your efforts could be ineffective.
Identify what you want to be known for
As you do your research, see if there is a particular theme. Does one part stand out across the board? This could be anything from customer service to a quality such as speed or reliability. Whatever this theme may be, combine it with your own goals. Everyone sets expectations for themselves and their businesses that they would like to achieve. Now is the time to identify what it is that you want to be influential about.
Be influential, trustworthy, social, human, etc.
From this point on, the fun begins. This is where you actually get to implement and act on who you are. For instance, if you want to be known for transparency, be transparent! You can’t fake this characteristic. If this is who you are, then it will come naturally.
Furthermore, as you’ve identified your theme, make sure that you are distributing this focus across your social media channels. Participate in conversations about relevant topics, publish content and more to reinforce your niche.
As you push this message out, remember to be human and social. You may have a remarkable niche, but if you’re not distributing it in a “real” way, it could harm your reputation. You should have a strategy, but don’t get too caught up in corporate speak. If you do, you may have trouble building trust. This is the fun part, so keep it exciting.
Lastly, you must monitor your efforts. Monitoring is one of the biggest parts of reputation management. With real-time communication, a reputation could be damaged in a matter of seconds. After all the hard work you put into this, a less than stellar reputation is not what you want, so monitor.
There are multiple tools both free and paid that help in this area as well. Also, Andy Beal and the Marketing Pilgrim team are always producing helpful content for reputation management and particularly monitoring.