We live in a world of first impressions. The moment you meet someone, whether you want to or not, you’re sending a message to them. And while first impressions aren’t everything, they are the groundwork of our relationships. This is true with job interviews, first dates, and casual bump intos with your neighbors. But, as the world continues to digitize, it’s important to remember this is true online, too.
As a result, you need to do everything possible to ensure your organization’s web presence elicits the best possible first impression with your target audience. And this starts with a comprehensive audit of your current efforts. So here’s how to do it:
Start By Identifying Anything Negative
While making sure everything is on-brand is certainly important, we’ll get to that in a minute. Because while off-brand messaging might give people the wrong first impression, negative content about you might give people a bad first impression, and this is much more damaging to your brand image.
Start by performing a Google search of your organization and some of its key members. Scroll though way more pages than you need to, and check in the news and image sections. You may want to do the same for Bing and Yahoo!, although it’s unlikely you’ll find anything there that Google didn’t come up with first.
The goal here is to find out if there is anything that could harm your image. And if you do find something negative, there are three approaches you can take:
- Do Nothing. Sometimes the best strategy is to just leave things as they are. Knowing this content exists is useful, but you don’t need to act on it. This could be the case if you find some obscure story involving someone with the same name as you or someone in your organization. You don’t or can’t change your name, and there’s not much else you can do about it, so why call it to people’s attention?
- Make Contact. If what’s out there does involve you and you’re worried it might have a negative impact, then consider reaching out to whoever is talking about you to see if you can address their concerns. This could be someone writing a blog post about a poor customer service experience, or a less than ideal interaction with your brand, and sometimes explaining your side of things can get them to calm down and remove whatever harmful content they’ve loaded onto the web.
- Run a Counter Campaign. If you can’t change the conversation, then maybe you need to start a new one. This could include a PR campaign designed to reshape your image, or it could be an SEO campaign that works to simply push whatever negativity there is about you further down in the search results and therefore further from people’s eyes.
Another place to look for negativity is review sites. Check on Google, and on Trip Advisor or any other travel site, and look to see if anyone is leaving really nasty reviews about you. If they are, then respond to them. You may not change that person’s mind, but at least you will provide context for anyone who sees that review in the future.
Check For Brand Consistency
Okay, now it’s time to evaluate how “on brand” your messaging is. But to do this, you need to start by asking yourself the following question: what kind of first impression do I want to make?
When answering, try to be as specific as possible. Obviously you want to make a “good” first impression, but what will that look like to you? Does it mean coming off funny and personable? Socially conscious and aware? Artistic and creative? You need to define which qualities you want your online presence to convey about you, and then you need to make sure this is actually happening.
Go through all your social media profiles and look at each post, always asking yourself it’s reflecting those core values that you want to communicate. And if something isn’t doing that, change it or delete it. It’s that simple.
Everything you do with your business needs to be for a reason, which is why the last step in your audit is to take a look to make sure what you’re doing is even worth it. Start by determine what the purpose of your digital presence is, and then narrow this down by defining your intentions with each platform. And your goals may vary.
For example, you may be interested in driving sales and engagement on Instagram, but on Facebook you may only be interested in engagement, for Facebook is how you get people to Instagram.
But no matter the purpose, to audit your web presence, you need to be sure everything you’re doing is achieving its aims, or at least on track to do so soon. And if it’s not, then you need to think about either abandoning that part of your approach, or at least changing it so that it can have a more positive impact on the organization.
Audit Today. Evaluate Constantly.
If you haven’t done an audit of your digital presence in the past six months, then you need to do one as soon as you can. But after you’ve done this and made the necessary adjustments, it’s important to instill evaluation into all of your processes. This will make your organization better equipped to respond on-the-go and always make the best first impression with its audience.