I’ve talked before about the importance of learning what to look for when managing your brand and reputation online. As someone who does mainly SEO and Reputation/Brand Management – I see brands neglected in so many ways. Like a child, you’re obligated to nurture and keep your brand alive and growing. Without growth and outreach, a brand is just a domain – with some content on it that will mean little to your visitors.
Making sure you’re checking review sites and posting management feedback where available is an important step in this process. Being approachable and involved in the conversation is key to cultivating a favorable online reputation. Don’t get defensive, own up – explain the issue – and give available solutions to lead the conversation to a favorable outcome for all parties involved.
Nobody can manage online reviews FOR you – it’s something each hotel, resort or property management company must do on their own. As a marketer I can tell you where to look, what to look for, and some suggestions for responding. If I were to respond myself, and represent myself as someone in a position of power at your lodging property – it would be unethical – and a lot less effective. I don’t have the power to make decisions FOR you – but you do.
Branded Search Engine Results Saturation (SERS)
In my mind, branding and reputation management walk the forest path hand in hand. Having a strong online brand can alleviate the impact of minor reputation management crises. Let me explain this concept further:
If you’re strong in the top 10 results for your brand name, in many cases negative reviews will have less impact for brand-based searches. Saturation for a brand can take many forms – sometimes its sites that are owned, operated and populated by content that can be controlled. Sometimes its listings that are not all “owned” but can be somewhat controlled – see a search for Starbucks. If I were in charge of marketing for Starbucks, I would approach the brand managers there with the following tactics in an attempt to move “ihatestarbucks.com” and “starbucksgossip” out of the top 10.
- Get a Facebook page – optimize for brand name and the word “official.” I see some applications and some other profiles that “might” belong to corporate, but they’re under-utilizing the potential here. Yes it takes man hours to do this, but the payoff could be HUGE if they do it right.
- Start a blog on a subdomain of starbucks.com where anyone in the company can post – or where your corporate employees post information on what’s happening around there. There are many things that can be done on subdomains – I suggest taking a look at a search for “Zappos” and looking at the first few pages to see search engine results that include content from various subdomains that target a portion of their business.
- Start some sister sites (on completely different URLS) that address most popular features of Starbucks “PikesPeakBlend.com” or “StarbucksWIFI.com” are examples.
- Get involved on Twitter – link to your website from your profile and GET INVOLVED. I found a Twitter profile for Starbucks that hasn’t been used and is protected. I’m not sure if this is an “official” profile – I somewhat doubt it.
Now not all of these are “guaranteed” to work – but they can have an impact which is exactly what you want when trying to “own” the top 10 in Google.
Branding and Paid Advertising
Ignoring the impact a brand campaign can have on your paid advertising is a mistake. Because some brands are pretty obscure (hotfrog), and some are pretty generic (Island real estate) this can have different levels of success.
I recommend every client w/ paid advertising have a branded campaign. This campaign doesn’t have to have a large budget; for the most part branded searches are fairly inexpensive. Be sure you set these up right and use negative keywords to make sure you’re not showing for brands that are similar, but not related at all.
I looked at one client in Gulf Shores, AL and their branded search terms that brought traffic to their site from January 1 through June 26, 2008. If we combine paid and organic conversions, branded keyword searches resulted in nearly $530,000 in revenue during that time period. They don’t spend money t o optimize for branded terms, they don’t have particularly spectacular saturation in Google for their brand, and they only spent $1506 in paid advertising for their branded campaign over that time period.
$530,000 x100 = 35,192% an INSANE return on investment!!!
Your brand is something that needs to be nurtured, protected, fed, and exercised – just like a child or a pet. It’s your legacy and ignoring its “upbringing” can result in severe problems with its future. You put so much effort into creating it, if you don’t take care of it you can consider that time wasted.