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A good online reputation is an important factor in the success of any brand competing in any market today. The very nature of the internet means that your company is likely to come under global scrutiny. But there are steps you can take to help build a positive online reputation worldwide. Below are five key points to consider.
1. Translate your content for markets overseas
Language is always going to be an issue when communicating with an international audience. That is why translation is important. Free tools, such as TransPerfect and Google Translate are great for finding out what is being said in a foreign language. It will not come out in perfect English but you should be able to understand most of the time.
However, these tools are not ideal when translating your own words. They are far from perfect and have no awareness of context. Problems such as inverting sentence meaning are not uncommon, so you would risk your reputation in doing so.
The best option is to use a professional translator who is a native speaker of your target language, and if possible, lives in the country of your audience. It will cost more, but reduces the risk to your reputation. They would make sure that you are using the correct dialect and ensure that you will not misinterpret anything you read.
2. Research local social networks
Social media has become an essential tool in building a positive online reputation. Having a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profile are good starting points. These are generally the leading networks across the globe. In the second half of 2012, Facebook announced that they had over a billion active monthly users –more than any other social network.
However, Facebook is still not the number one platform in every country. The digital agency WeAreSocial reported that for 2012 Cyworld was still the biggest in South Korea, with 26 million, and Zing in Vietnam had around the same number as Facebook with 8.2 million users. VKontakte is still massive in Russia and Draugiem is the biggest social network in Latvia.
Therefore, you should find out what social networks are being used in the countries you will be involved in most and join them.
3. Be wary of social and cultural differences
You need to be wary of social and cultural differences between countries. There are obviously going to be variations in what is acceptable online behaviour. For example, some countries will not accept aggressive brand pushing and find it highly intrusive. You will have to be careful and be aware that you are not just in contact with your home country users. What is acceptable in America is not always going to be so in Japan.
4. Respond to feedback
From customer reviews on your website, to reviews in blogs or in magazines, feedback is an excellent way of seeing how you are performing in the eyes of your customers. It should be encouraged - even the negative kind. This is because you can use it to improve your brand and tailor it to the needs of each international market. Positive feedback will enhance your reputation and if you can fix the negative side you can boost your reputation as a brand that listens to its customers. Be reactive to all kinds of feedback and be responsive to it. It is therefore worth encouraging users to review your brand in all of the international markets you are involved in.
If you ignore your reviews, you will find that users there will ignore your brand. Having a string of one star reviews on Hotels.com saying the same negative things over many years, without any change, is a fine example of what you do not want. You can make a note on your website that you have changed some aspects of your business due to feedback from customers and encourage more of them to respond to the change and turn it into something positive.
5. Be active and use online tools to monitor your reputation
Finally, you should monitor your reputation. Now that you have established a new social media presence you need to have an active presence on every social network you are on and keep track of who is saying what about you and where. This is not to say you should be sending out hundreds of uninformative tweets every day - these will end up being seen as spam and you reputation will suffer. But do not let your Facebook page, your new Zing profile in Vietnam or your Cyworld profile in South Korea stagnate. Engage with people - this is what social networks are for.
You can use online monitoring tools such as Reputation.com and the social media search tool Whos Talkin. A lot of them are free, or offer a 30-day trial, so take advantage of them to protect and build your online reputation.
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, Inc. , a provider of translation services in New York and all over the globe. Launched in 2001, Lingo24, Inc. now has more than 200 employees spanning four continents and clients in more than 60 countries. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter: @Lingo24.