The One Tool that Will Drastically Improve Your Online Reputation

When I worked in the conference world, one of the joys of my job was seeing online friends meet in person for the first time. It might seem weird to call someone a friend if you’ve never actually met them, but after reading one another’s blogs, exchanging tweets, and even having conversations on Skype, it’s easy for a friendship to build. You grow to know and like one another and even trust one another.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could build that same online friendship with every single one of your customers? After all, people are more likely to make a purchase when they know, like, and trust you, just as they do a friend.

Having a personable blog and sharing on social media are great strategies, but if you want to solidify that relationship, consider one more tool: podcasting.

With a podcast, you connect more intimately with your audience because people hear your voice. You also tell people you’re an authority on the subject and reach an entirely new audience since some people don’t read blogs or use social media much—they listen to podcasts.

Best of all, podcasting is not as hard as you think!

What You Need to Get Started

Technically, all you need to get started is a computer with a mic (or even a smartphone), some program to record your voice (many free options available), and a little time to record. I was the first part of a podcast in 2008, and that’s pretty much all we had for our weekly video game show.

Now, I highly recommend spending a little money to purchase a nice mic rather than using the one built into your computer, as well as some sound editing software so you can edit out any awkward pauses or other parts you don’t want to be in the final product you upload for listeners. But you don’t need to splurge. If you’re starting, you can find all the equipment you need for under $100.

Once you’re ready to get more serious about podcasting, I highly recommend checking out a couple of resources:

– the excellent overall article called, How to Start a Podcast: Ultimate Guide for Beginners

– the equipment advice from Podcast Answer Man (Cliff Ravenscraft). Cliff also has a free Learn How to Podcast training course available here if you want some training before getting started. (I’m not an affiliate for any of Cliff’s products; I think it’s top-notch!)

What to Podcast About

Resist the urge to start a podcast about your company. While you can (and should) mention company news on your podcast, people won’t listen to what equates to a commercial for your brand. You want a podcast that will better your online reputation by making you an expert on your industry or even a particular part of your industry.

For example, you own a small brick-and-mortar business, like a BBQ restaurant. You could podcast about:

  • The restaurant industry
  • Food, in general
  • BBQ
  • Your local neighborhood

And while you certainly want to mention your restaurant, the entire podcast should not be about your business.

A great option is to have at least one co-host. You’ll notice that radio shows typically have two or three people, sometimes with a fourth person who comes in for specific segments. It’s easier to play off of one another than talk to yourself.

You can also have weekly guests on your podcast. This is key for helping you promote since guests tend to tell their audiences when they are on someone’s podcast. It’s also a great way to build relationships with key people in your industry: have them on your podcast.

The Dark Side of Podcasting

Podcasts can also ruin your online reputation if you’re not careful. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Rants and angry comments: It can feel SO good to slam someone acting like an idiot or saying things about your company that aren’t true but resist the urge. Rants are one of the fastest ways to change people’s thoughts about you online, not for the better.
  • Personal rambling: You do want to let people into your personal life a bit with your podcast, but too much gets boring to other people. Share that your sister just had a baby, and you’re a new aunt/uncle. Avoid the play-by-play retelling of the labor…unless, of course, you have a pregnancy podcast!
  • Off-topic conversations: We all get off-topic sometimes, and that’s okay. Just be aware that if you spend more time off topic than on topic, you’re probably going to lose some readers. People come to your podcast because they have a specific interest in the topic you’re covering, so make sure that you’re talking about that topic most of the time.
  • Mistakes: If you want people to see you as an expert in your field, you must give them the correct information. If you’re unsure about a fact, say that and fact-check it later for your show notes. Don’t BS your way through a conversation, because people will call you out on it.

Common sense, right? Right!

Podcasting can be a lot of fun and a great way to improve what people think about you online. Look into starting one today—or at the very least, start listening to some of the podcasts in your industry and building relationships with the hosts so you can be a guest on their podcasts.

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When I worked in the conference world, one of the joys of my job was seeing online friends meet in …