A new white paper from Homes.com takes a look at best practices for using online directories, review sites and social media platforms to manage a brand’s "online reputation" and keep tabs on competitors.

"Maximizing Your Online Reputation: A Playbook for Engaging Consumers and Winning their Business" is also a plug for Homes.com’s social media marketing service, Social Impact, which is offered at a 30 percent discount.

Before diving into best practices, the 23-page report calls attention to the importance of maintaining a polished image on directory, review and social media websites.  

Citing marketing software developer HubSpot Inc., the white paper said 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Information technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. has found 74 percent of consumers rely on social networks to make purchasing decisions, the paper said.

Given that so many consumers use online chatter to learn about brands, those that cultivate an attractive online image may reap significant rewards, the Homes.com report said. The white paper pointed to a Media Post News report that said that brands with the highest "social media activity" boosted revenue by as much as 18 percent.

Developing the infrastructure for building an attractive online reputation, first and foremost, means creating an online footprint that spans the most popular directories, review sites and social media platforms, the report said. Those include Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and business directories on major search engines, it said.

After carving out footholds on those websites, businesses should be sure to post on them and engage followers on a daily basis, the report said. Most importantly, a company must flag negative reviews or comments, and tactfully engage their authors to quell frustration and stanch the possible spread of negative sentiment.

The report also recommends monitoring competitors’ social media activity. Keeping tabs on competitors by subscribing to their newsletters, following them on social networks and targeting them with Google alerts, can help a company identify successful marketing strategies and teach it ones to avoid, the report said.

A company should consider creating a "reputation management" team as well, the report said. The white paper ends with a plug for Homes.com’s social media marketing service, Social Impact.

In addition to providing a suite that allows an agent to post to different social media accounts and display those posts to websites, Social Impact offers a "concierge service" that provides agents with a "social media assistant" who performs tasks that include developing content and producing videos.

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