Building a great reputation requires consistency. Everyone in the company must be on the same page because they represent the character and data of the brand. Honesty, integrity and even search engine optimization have roles to play.
Kedi Siade explained during an Africa Tweet Chat that consumers are expressing their opinions in powerful ways. Companies must regularly interact with customers to stay relevant and build a reputation that will boost their revenue in the long run.
She found her calling at a young age.
“I watched people walking on the streets, trying to understand what were their stories,” Kedi Siade said. “Marketing was a natural destination for this purpose.
“What we see is what we know. Perception is reality,” she said. “There are so many ways to say reputation is easily affected.”
Brands with great reputations have common characteristics.
“A reputable brand is well known, respected, appreciated, authentic and can inspire loyalty,” Kedi Siade said. “Online and off, perception is consistently positive and aligned.”
Not only on the corporate side, everyone should be concerned about personal brand reputation.
“It is critical to care about your personal brand reputation in the world we live in now,” Kedi Siade said. “If don’t check what’s going on with your name, you can get into trouble. You need to define what you want people to say about you and make sure it sticks.”
Responding to online attacks, abuse and trolls takes special restraint.
“Stay true to yourself, but on top of it, be respectful and open,” Kedi Siade said. “Trolls should be identified. You might avoid or not respond to them, depending on who you are and who they are.”
Trolling the chief executive
This is particularly challenging in high-profile forums.
“I remember working on the account of a presidential candidate in Cameroon,” Kedi Siade said. “Because we were open, everybody asked questions, including trolls. To gain attention and sympathy, we responded. But as we moved on in the campaign, we stopped responding to trolls, just muting them.
“As far as abuse is concerned, always mind your words,” she said. “Don’t answer under emotion, and avoid clashes.”
In all circumstances, the audience looks in one direction.
“People will focus on your attitude rather than on the person who abuses you,” Kedi Siade said. “Therefore, your reaction can rather destroy or improve your personal brand reputation. Be wise.”
Spectators will detect messages not totally aligned.
“Deleting a negative comment is giving the impression you only accept praise, and that may be counterproductive as well,” Kedi Siade said. “Rather, say, ‘Thank you for sharing your honest view. Much appreciated.’”
She advised never to take online feedback and ratings for granted.
“It totally matters, whether for your personal brand or for your business,” Kedi Siade said. “It matters to you first of all because it helps you understand what works and what doesn’t. You can identify areas of improvements or opportunities.
“Secondly, feedback matters to your audience because it attracts or pushes away people,” she said. “It’s critical to check and act on what people say about you online — of course while staying true to yourself. All feedback is not always valuable and relevant.”
Kedi Siade passed along tips on how to build a trusted personal brand:
- Have your own voice. People come to you to discover you, not just a gimmick of some other person. Don’t trade your authenticity, and know your worth. What do you have to add to the table? Being yourself and sharing authentic content is the base.
- Be transparent. It’s not about telling all of your personal story but about sharing truthful experience. That’s how you gain loyalty.
- Be consistent. It takes time to be known for who you are and to build an audience.
- Don’t get tired, keep learning. Learn about brand reputation. Learn about content marketing. Learn about all the tools that will help you share your true you better.
Thinking of authenticity
Becoming a thought leader requires thought. Kedi Siade had these suggestions:
- Be who you are. You can’t share what you are not. It’s critical to know yourself and know what you want to share.
- Find the best way to share: blog, podcast, Twitter, Facebook, all of that. Understand what fits you best.
- Be kind. Your positive energy counts. People don’t want to be bullied by someone who knows it all. Be open to give tips. Learn to know your community, and interact with them. Create true connections online and offline.
- Identify other thought leaders in your field of activity, and mingle. Get them to endorse you when needed to share your content. Contribute to their podcasts or blogs.
- Control what gets out in searches, and improve your search engine optimization.
A broken reputation need not be a permanent condition, although rehabilitation is long term.
“Be aware of how it all started,” Kedi Siade said. “What did you miss? Is it your temper that flew? Is it that you were not ready for social exposure? Is it just the result of harassment? Are you ready to work it all out?
“Taking that personal decision for rehabilitation is important because all the work to recreate a positive reputation stands on your shoulders,” she said. “This can take some time — days, months — but the time is needed.”
Part of that time is well spent if used to build a comeback strategy, including rebranding.
“Be prepared to face additional backlash,” Kedi Siade said. “Be genuine, authentic, and admit your flaws. Rebranding can be useful when the damage is massive. Make sure to communicate appropriately so your community understands your change.”
Reputation repair kit
Fortunately, injured entrepreneurs need not fend for themselves. Kedi Siade favors a couple of reputation management tools.
“The first is Google alerts,” she said. “Enter your name as keywords, and check what’s said about you. This lets you work on your personal brand reputation.
“I have also worked a lot with SEO,” Kedi Siade said. “I make sure the content I created — namely on my blogs — gets the attention they need along with my name. Yoast SEO for WordPress is a terrific tool.”
Business is a two way transaction, which means you have to listen to customers’ feedback. Then come back with improvements as needed.
“This works for business as much as for personal brands,” Kedi Siade said. “Once you get out there, you’re not alone anymore. You need to listen to your community.”