What are the building blocks to a great online reputation?
In order to increase your reach and improve your reputation, you need to think of your website as your home base for your business online. Even as an independent contractor or small business, this is your identity.
Align your staff with your vision and voice. If you have a team, make sure you're all on the same page in terms of customer responses, status updates, and blog posts. One of the toughest acts to recover from is when a rogue employee responds rudely or posts a status update that doesn't align with the company's mission or voice. Put a plan in place and make sure protocol is followed. Also discuss consequences for thoughtless posting and commenting.
You must create unique engaging content. I've had clients who have flat out refused to give me any content to work with. I've had to attempt to manufacture a following from other people's links, photos, videos, and blog posts. It just doesn't work. Unless you're putting something out into the world that is of some value; whether comical, informative, inspiring, or authoritative, it just won't work. Before you even begin to use social media, have a plan in place for content. Ultimately, you want to drive visitors to your website where they'll find frequently updated, relevant content.
Listen to the web around you. Keep an eye on your niche and others related to it. Who are the top influencers? What are the questions being asked on Quora? Who is doing most of the talking on Twitter? What is your take on the topic at hand? How does the morning news relate to your brand? Listen to the web, it will give you great insight into the movement of your industry as well as provide loads of content ideas.
These building blocks will allow you to invest in the real estate of you, online.