As we usher in the new year, you might have made a wide variety of resolutions related to losing weight, spending less money, or drinking less, but if you own a small business or work as a freelancer, a resolution you might have neglected to make is to build up your online brand. So many times our resolutions are geared toward reducing the negative effects of something, and not increasing the positive effects of something else.

Building a brand online requires a multitude of incremental steps that start with your acknowledgment of the importance of having a clean bill of health. There are a wide variety of services out there, such as, that can help you dispel slander or negative reviews. But when it comes right down to it, you need to proactively manage your image you put out onto the Internet. Here three ways to take control of your online brand:

Use your Facebook fan page to make personal connections with your fans and customers

If you’re a one-man/woman show this is easier, but if you have a big personnel, it’s time for you to designate one person, or even a team, to handle your social media relations. This is a big part of PR now. The position is often called Social Media Director, and this person(s) is responsible for using sites like Facebook to reach out to customers. A Facebook fan page offers an incredible opportunity to create one-to-one friendships with your followers. If you run a business, this could translate to excellent word of mouth. Take, for example, the Southwest Airlines ‘free tickets’ meme that has spread like a wildfire through Facebook.

Tweet it up

Twitter is billed as a micro-blogging site, but it’s also a great way to micro-manage your online perception. A dicey article about you on can yield hundreds or even thousands of negative comments. Counter this by Tweeting a brief explanation or just something positive to lessen the damage. This should in turn yield a fresh wall of positive Tweets that will be seen as more current than the original article. Twitter is way to stay on the offensive and to be seen as working in real-time communication.

Use viral video to your advantage

In the aftermath of the disastrous BP oil spill, the company took to the TV and the Internet with videos in which the CEO made personal appeals to the public, claiming that the company was going to do everything it could to fix the problem. While the videos might not have convinced everyone, they received thousands of views on YouTube and probably lessened the public outrage over this horrific accident.

There dozens of ways you can approach your company’s online identity, too many to list here. However, they all revolve around the core idea that social media is a storm of energy that can and must be harnessed. Staying active on these sites is an incredible way to evolve your PR strategies and refurbish your online brand.

About the author
Guest post by Nick Jameson. He is a freelance writer specializing in business and marketing

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