For too long, communication was considered an art—a nice-to-have skill you were either born with or not—rather than a scientific process that leaders and aspiring leaders could study in order to improve their influence, their reputation and their business’ bottom lines. Quantified Communications was founded on the premise that, contrary to this traditional belief, an individual’s ability to communicate successfully is not just a soft skill but one that can be measured and improved in a data-driven way. We have spent a lot of time thinking about how we can help C-suite executives successfully share their messages in front of live audiences.
Naturally, as consumers have grown to expect to learn about and interact with leaders and their businesses online, our work has extended into focusing on how those same executives are perceived online as well as in-person. And at Quantified, we are applying the same principles we’ve developed for improving in-person communication to help these leaders optimize their online reputations in a meaningful and measurable way.
Why Is a Leader’s Online Reputation Important?
A recent report from Weber-Shandwick and KRC Research found that as much as 60 percent of a company’s market value is attributed to its reputation. Notably, 66 percent of consumers say their perceptions of CEOs affect their perceptions of the companies they lead and the products those companies sell; and similarly, 59 percent of global consumers report that their opinions about companies are influenced by what their executives communicate.
It stands to reason, then, that businesses and their leadership should be laser-focused on building and maintaining a favorable reputation through effective communication with potential customers.
As far as the “online” piece of the equation goes, there’s compelling data that executives should be focusing on their online communication as much as their in-person abilities. Brunswick recently surveyed employees and readers of financial publications in the United States and the United Kingdom (a group that’s “emblematic of the stakeholders business leaders want to reach”) and found that the majority expect CEOs to be on social media, with both groups in both countries as likely or more likely to get information from social media than traditional media.
And it’s not just social media, either. Today’s consumers are consistently looking online for information, thought leadership and analysis of current events. For example, Wikipedia is the third most popular website in the world, with 2.4 billion visitors per month. But, for better or for worse, the public’s research is largely surface level and easily diverted by attention-grabbing headlines. 95 percent of people do not go past the first page of Google search results, and 67 percent of all clicks go to the top five listings on a search engine results page. Additionally, negative headlines on the first page of Google receive 63 percent more clicks than positive headlines. In short, today’s consumers are looking for insights online, but their heads are easily turned, and the executive’s challenge is to capture—and keep—their attention long enough to land their message.
Building an Executive Reputation Online
With the unprecedented transparency created by social media and the ever-increasing consumption of information found online, it is natural that executives and business leaders are thinking about their digital footprints in a more focused and nuanced way. But like in-person communication skills, online presence is easy to write off as some kind of “magic” that leaders can hope for but not necessarily control or build intentionally. And again, at Quantified Communications, we disagree.
We believe there is a huge opportunity for leaders to optimize their online presence to more effectively communicate their chosen narrative. Traditionally, online reputation management has been used as a crisis control tactic or as an effort to get bad headlines off the front page of Google. But given how important a leader’s online presences can be in building (or tearing down) a brand, those reactive efforts aren’t enough. Online reputation management can and should be a proactive process by which leaders shape the vast amount of information available about them online into a compelling and powerful piece of their overall leadership platform. Now more than ever before, executives have a vast platform from which to share their message, both offline and online—and we are helping them achieve quantifiable success on both fronts.
How We Help Our Clients
When we talk about developing in-person communication skills, we know the first step is to understand your current skill level, so we begin with a diagnostic that measures leaders’ overall communication effectiveness and benchmarks their skills against their peers, competitors, and best-in-class communicators. This baseline gives us a foundation for our development programs.
We’ve taken a similar approach to online reputation management by establishing a methodology for a digital reputation audit that combs through an executive’s online presence. Our audit scores them across five metrics including search engine results, social media presence, and biography accuracy and consistency, among others. We then compare their digital footprint to the greater landscape, and benchmark them against their peers—just as we do with our communication diagnostic.
This audit provides a starting point from which we can implement a reputation management program, incorporating thoughtful strategies such as content creation, online biography updating, LinkedIn improvement and search engine optimization (SEO).
In our experience, no one client is the same. A Fortune 500 CEO might need help updating his professional experience and well-earned accolades across online platforms, while a prominent business owner might benefit from SEO to ensure the first page of her search results are well-rounded, accurate and compelling. Regardless of the specific need, Quantified is here to help our clients incorporate their narratives into their online presence and meaningfully improve their digital reputations.
Today’s public—including current and potential customers, employees, and investors—craves “personal” relationships with the leaders behind the brands they support. In turn, leaders who want to garner that support can do so by presenting a consistent message in a consistent voice, through every channel. But to do so requires a proactive and intentional effort to craft and maintain that reputation. Here at Quantified, we’re ready to help leaders design and implement effective strategies for building and nurturing ideal audience perceptions—online as well as off.