Your event’s online reputation is precious and fragile. It takes very little to mar it. Protect it as if it was all that you had (with these tips) because someday it could be.
Do you remember middle school and high school where a rumor of you doing something uncool could kill your rep in the time it took to eat lunch? For me, the embarrassing moment came when I was 11 and Seventeen Magazine (which I wasn’t even allowed to read at the time) published a Q&A column. The column featured a question from someone who had the same initials as I did asking about what another set of initials meant.
The question was a little unsavory so I’ll skip the details. Needless to say, everyone in my all-girls junior high was convinced that I wrote it. I told them I didn’t read the magazine and had no idea what they were talking about. The girls decided the only true way to tell whether it was me or not was to ask me the same question the author had asked.
In junior high logic, the girls decided if I knew the answer I hadn’t written the question. After all, who would write a question they already knew the answer to? My argument that if it was me and I had read the answer, I would know the answer, fell on deaf ears. Needless to say, I didn’t know the answer. I couldn’t even pretend. I was a woefully naïve 11-year-old and the afternoon entertainment was at my expense.
Those sort of actions are part of growing up and I smile at the memory of the day now. But at the time that was the kind of stuff that made you want to move far, far away. You don’t want your event to suffer the same fate of someone maligning its reputation or telling others that it’s something it’s not. You must protect your event’s online reputation because unlike my example that cost me only a few hours of burning red cheeks, especially when someone finally explained to me what the acronym meant, an event’s ability to attract attendees hinges on its online reputation.
Tips on Solidifying Your Online Reputation
Branding is especially difficult these days because it’s no longer owned by the hosting organization or the event. The attendees and influencers are as much the constructors of your event’s reputation as you are. That’s why the first step in maintaining a strong online reputation is to make your target demographic happy. Be of value to industry influencers and reviewers and address issues early.
You need to listen year round on social media. Set media alerts so you know every time your event is mentioned. When you have your session schedule, create alerts for your keynotes and other peripherals affecting your event, including the venue. This way, you know of any issues or things that could mar your reputation early enough to get in front of them. There is nothing worse than starting from the reactive position and then needing to run responses past several layers of management. This can delay your response by days, which in social media years is the length of junior high.
Create Content That’s in Keeping With the Reputation You Want to Foster
This is a little bit of their word against yours, but the best defense is a good offense. If you are creating good quality content and it’s getting shared, your organic ranking should be growing. By doing so, you are improving the return people get when they search about your conference. Try to rank for long-tail terms too like “<Your event name> reviews” and “Things to know about <your event name>.”
Keep Your Website Up-to-Date
Always feature fresh content on your event site. If someone “hears” your event is outdated and then checks out your website and it’s listing info on last year’s event, guess what you just proved? If you run your event site through WordPress or another CMS, updates are as easy as keying into Word. Take advantage of that and keep your content fresh.
Run Searches that Hurt
Maybe I’m not very trusting but as good as Google Alerts and Mention are, the Interwebs is a big place. I’m always concerned that I’m not hearing everything that is being said, so occasionally I run “searches that hurt.” These searches are things you never want to hear about your event, things like “<Your event name> sucks” and “Why I hate <your event name>.”
If you uncover any results that fit those searches you want to do two things:
- Go to that article and leave a helpful comment when possible and try to address their concerns in an honest and straightforward way. This is not to win them over but to show others who stumble across the post that you are listening.
- Create content that is very similar. Hopefully, there won’t be a lot of results so it should be easy to place for the same search terms by creating your own content with a similar title or keyword and a positive message.
Avoid Grammar Mistakes
It’s hard to see someone as a thought leader or an event as a world-renowned happening when there are typos in the copy. Triple check your work and then run it through Grammarly. There is never an excuse for mistakes. I’m not saying they don’t happen. They do, and they will, but know that every mistake detracts from your reputation as a top event and organization.
If you are helpful to your target audience, if you make their lives easier in some way, you will find they will reward you with their attention and kind words. They will also be more likely to “forgive” transgressions and mistakes—the first time. So go out of your way to make them feel special.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Some people have nothing nice to say and by feeding them with ire and hate, you’ll only make them more powerful and excited. If their complaints have merit, address them. If not, feed them from the polite spoon. It won’t give them anything to use and your audience will be there watching, admiring your restraint.
Your event’s online reputation is a lot more important than what happens in a junior high auditorium. You need to monitor it like it was one of your most valuable resources. And remember, good content in your Twitter stream may disappear in the blink of an eye but a negative review remains on everyone’s mind until Kim and Kanye do something noteworthy.