The internet is littered with reputation management tools, but social media tops the list when it comes to quick wins. When properly optimized, your social profiles are ranking powerhouses within search engines. Therefore, establishing and maintaining these accounts can protect your brand’s online reputation from negative press, and helps you put your best foot forward with customers.

Don’t limit yourself to the top five social networks either. Although maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter should be your top priority, lesser-known sites within your industry can also rank favorably in Google. You’d be surprised by how many different networks there are to leverage. Here’s a list of over 60, and finding others is easy. Simply Google ‘social networking websites’. If you add a keyword, such as “food” or “pets,” you can narrow down the results even more.

Company websites are usually optimized for traffic and conversions, so social profiles may provide a better opportunity to develop your brand’s online narrative. Also, publishing positive news about your brand is a snap because you manage these platforms yourself.

How to Use Social Media to Manage your Reputation

Social media is powerful, but it isn’t a magic bullet. In other words, you can’t simply register several profiles and expect them to immediately begin ranking on the first page of Google. To maximize the reputation-boosting benefits of social media, you’ll need to do some work to set up your accounts and keep them active.

1. Choose your name carefully

Experts recommend being as consistent as possible when it comes to branding your social properties, but this doesn’t mean that each of your accounts should look like carbon copies. In fact, the opposite is true. Sprinkle some diversity across your profiles to reflect the user base of each platform while keeping your brand’s voice, name and logos consistent. This will help your customers—and Google—identify your social media accounts.

An excellent way to build customer trust is using similar handles across your profiles. However, this may not be possible due to character limitations and username availability. Before deciding on your official handle, make sure you can use it on several social platforms. If someone else already owns the name you want you could make them an offer to buy it or choose something similar.

2. Populate your profile

Your social profile is more than simply a photo and a username. Take full advantage of all fields, including description, location, and contact information. Leveraging these features will boost your legitimacy with users and help Google understand the connection to your brand.

3. Verify your accounts

It’s definitely worth taking time to…