So you are, and possibly have been for a while, under online attack – online defamation to be exact – and you’re noticing a drop in actual business because of these malicious bogus articles and posts about your company. It’s costing you time, stress and worse of all, it’s costing you money.
You may have already contacted an Internet defamation pro, such as Cyber Investigation Services, and an investigation has, perhaps, been put into motion. But the reality of the subject remains that it’s all going to take time. Time to do the investigation. Time to potentially get a court order to have the defamation removed. Time and money that you no longer wish to spend. So what are your immediate options? What can you start doing right now to begin to protect your business and save your brand’s online reputation?
The fact of the matter is that, no matter what, it will take time. But the sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to see results. So, the following are some strategic strategies for you to begin putting into place right now, in order to save your brand from this online defamation that continues to cost you in more ways than one.
1. Develop your message
You need a strong, unanimous message across the board. One that says exactly what you want it to say. One that you will continue to communicate within all of your communications.
The following are guidelines to include within your messaging:
- Be transparent, honest and human. Explain what has happened and why. If you made mistakes, state what they were – don’t try to hide anything at this point. The more honest you are, the more points you will score with your market.
- What are the repercussions that this smear campaign have caused you and/or your market? What are you doing about it?
- Include relevant and complimentary links
- Tell your story – storytelling goes a long way
- Be credible
- Be consistent. Once you’ve determined your message, keep communicating it. Adapt it to different platforms and share it as much as possible.
2. Fight fire with fire
Content is being wrongfully published about your company online. It’s time to start sticking up for yourself and taking action. Use your blog and your corporate website to your advantage and begin to write and publish content that:
- Discredits the negativity (without being negative)
- Proves that the opposite is true
- Is optimized for high search engine rankings
This is a long-term strategy that you need to start doing NOW. It’s a proactive strategy to begin to discredit the defamatory content and prove the truth about your company. Different strategies for doing this include:
- An informative FAQ (include images, links, stats, etc)
- YouTube videos – published to YouTube and then embedded onto your blog or corporate website
- Blog posts, articles and/or web pages with detailed information
- Press releases republished to your corporate site and/or blog
3. Optimize your content for SEO
Once your content is created, you need to make sure that it’s optimized for maximum views and find-ability. The following are some strategic steps to accomplishing this:
- Choose your keywords strategically. What are the keywords and phrases that the defamers are using? What are the terms and phrases that are populating the search engines? Use these same keywords and phrases within your own content.
- Title your posts, articles, videos, etc the same title as the defamatory content, adding “brand name responds”, or “rumor:” to it.
- Make sure you’re using your header tags and on-page SEO effectively.
- The search engine crawlers crawl video content as well, so be sure to include the appropriate keywords and phrases within your videos.
4. Focus on your network of loyal customers and advocates
Hopefully you’ve developed a loyal following of brand advocates and still-happy customers prior to now. If so: get them talking! When you have a loyal following who believe in your company and message, they WILL support you.
If you haven’t: Work on this. Use social media, blogging, etc to get your message out and build real relationships with past customers, prospective customers and your market in general.
5. Go on the record
Research the leading news blogs and industry blogs in your market – the ones that you know will be interested in your story – and go on the record. Offer them an exclusive interview about the online defamation you’re currently facing and/or write a (or several) guest articles for their blog, telling your story and communicating your message.
These blogs already have a substantial following and high SEO rankings, which will help you get your side of the story heard, as well as offer high value backlinks to your own site and/or corporate blog.
6. Make it easy for others to find your content
- Adding visible links to important content that communicates your targeted message from your website’s top landing pages
- Sharing your message and links across all relevant social media accounts and sharing platforms
7. Be transparent, honest and human
People will relate. They’ll understand and they will support you.
8. When all is said and done, go a step further
Within your experience with online defamation, there are numerous lessons that you have learned and that others would benefit from. Share these lessons and experiences with your market and position yourself as a thought-leader and resourceful brand. This will help to connect you even closer to your market.
9. Don’t stop
All of this is a long-term effort. Once you’ve reached your goals, don’t stop. Continue to build your search engine rankings and strengthen your relationship with your market. Online defamation isn’t the online online crisis you may experience, so continue to build your brand and prepare your team for social media and online crises with a proactive social media and online crisis management plan. Build and protect your brand for the long-term and make sure that you’re never affected in the same way again.
Internet defamation and online crises are a high-risk issue that need prompt attention. The above should help get you on the right, proactive track to defending and protecting your brand. Remember that the sooner you begin to take the steps listed above, the sooner you will begin to regain control of your brand’s online reputation.
Melissa Agnes is a social media crisis specialist and consultant. She’s worked with National Parks, Universities and Global brands, helping them assess the risk that social media presents to their brands and developing custom tailored social media crisis management plans to protect them from those risks. Melissa keeps a daily blog on the subject of social media crises over at MelissaAgnes.com, is a co-host of The Crisis Show and the creator of The Social Media Crisis Academy. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter and Linkedin.