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Digital identity and digital reputation - what are they?

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have you ever googled your name to see what information comes up about you? If you run a business you should try doing the same to answer some questions: Who are you on the internet? How do people see you? Do you project a positive or negative image?

If you are unfamiliar with the concepts of "digital reputation" and "digital identity" or if you don't know how to ensure that the image you project on the web does not negatively affect your marketing strategy, don't miss this post.

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are 'identity' and 'digital reputation' the same thing?

According to the national cybersecurity institute , 1 out of every 2 companies is on the internet, either actively or because of what customers or users say about it through comments or reviews. Therefore, managing a company nowadays involves dealing with the existence of a physical and a virtual life and, as a result of the latter, new circumstances to take into account and concepts that we must know and manage arise.

When the Internet first appeared, information was transferred in a unidirectional way, i.e. website administrators controlled the whole process and users and customers only intervened as mere spectators.

However, as technology and the Internet evolved, the role of users changed and spaces such as chats and forums appeared, where those who until then were only spectators became the ones in charge of creating and sharing content. Little by little, until today, users have been taking control towards a multidirectional system that encourages the exchange of information.

The concept of multidirectionality is a key piece to understand why our "digital identity" is important but, above all, to understand the concept of "digital reputation"; because although they are closely related, they are not the same thing.

> The digital identity is the set of information that we ourselves generate on the Internet. The corporate digital identity is, therefore, the image that a company projects on the network through the content that it creates and controls .

Aspects such as the design of your website, the appearance of your social networks and the tone you use to send your messages in different ways affect your digital identity.

Companies create their digital identity on the different platforms in which they participate (website, blog, social networks, etc.). Taking care of your image and the relationship with your users on each of them is fundamental and can positively affect your digital reputation.

> Digital reputation is the opinion that the online community has of a brand and which is expressed through comments on different platforms or reviews, whether positive or negative.

Brands have no direct control over this content and forms of control (e.g. disabling comments on networks) can work against them when it comes to connecting with the public, as they can always find other ways to express their opinion in the vastness of the web.

According to Vilma Nuñez, digital reputation is an abstract concept referring to the image or perception of our business, while digital identity is a tangible concept, which refers to concrete elements that build the brand, such as the logo or typographies.

In short, we could say that digital identity is what we say about ourselves on the internet, while digital reputation is what others think of our brand.

As a company, you can manage your corporate digital image so that it positively affects your digital reputation, although the opinion that users have about your business is not only based on your online performance. The overall performance of your brand and the satisfaction of your customers offline also have an impact, as they can use the internet to share their experience - positive or negative - with your brand.

By not taking your business online, you are not preventing a negative image of your brand from being generated online; on the contrary, users are online regardless of your online presence and can build your digital reputation by leaving you out of it.

Leaving your online channels unattended can be a big mistake, but as Dr. Magda Rivero explains, reputation is one and is influenced by both online and offline reputation. Your actions in the physical world will have repercussions in the virtual world and vice versa.

Risks to digital identity and reputation

> Attacks on corporate identity

Your brand's corporate identity can be attacked in several ways, one of which is identity theft, which Inteco defines as the usurpation of a company's corporate profiles by malicious third parties acting on its behalf, i.e. someone starts using your company's name and identity, for example, to send emails in your name.

One of the reasons for resorting to these techniques is to steal information from the brand's users, using techniques such as phishing (impersonating the brand in communications via email or social networks) or pharming (when accessing the brand's page, the user is redirected to a fraudulent website).

> Online reputation is cumulative

The digital reputation of a brand, as explained by the National Institute of Communication Technologies in its Guide to identity and digital reputation, does not work in a linear way, but cumulatively over time. The risk this entails is that the network does not easily allow for forgetting and each online action leaves a digital footprint that marks the trail of your company. Therefore, it is important that you start taking care of your online actions from the beginning, and do not stop doing so at any time.

> The impact of negative comments

Nowadays, through social media you can get direct feedback from your customers and users, but this means that when these opinions are negative, your brand's reputation can be damaged.

Twitter is one of the most common ways for users to air their grievances. Through hashtags, information is transmitted and grouped quickly and, if several users start commenting on the same topic, they can create a trend (trending topic). In addition, with the rise of the networks, the figure of the troll has appeared , a type of user whose aim is to fuel the flow of negative comments through mockery and insults.

Correct management of this flow of negative content can benefit your brand. It is a matter of actively listening to networks and trying to solve possible failures. However, in the case of false information or offensive comments, companies may be protected in some cases by the law, through the right to honour and the right to be forgotten .

Tips for managing your online image and reputation

To manage your online identity and reputation you must clearly establish the core values and principles of your brand, by which you want it to be recognised and differentiated from others. What are your values as a company? How do you want to convey them to your audience?

Then, every action should be aimed at achieving your chosen objectives. Here are some examples to help you get your actions right.

1.Take care of the content you publish online, from publications on your website to responses on social networks, and make sure they correspond to the values of your brand. To do this, correctly define the tone of the messages and establish the topics on which you will support your users.

2. Keeptrack of your competitors' digital identities and any problems they have encountered to avoid making the same mistakes.

3.Be active on social networks, take care of their appearance, publish content regularly and answer the doubts that users may express through them. Do not open a profile on a platform if you are going to abandon it later and establish a calendar to avoid this happening.

4.Focus your efforts on generating relevant and timelyconversations and create quality content in as many media as possible.

5.Segment your content based on your users' preferences: establish groups within your social community, covering different topics.

6.Set up autoresponders and automate network processes whenever possible.

Now that you know the importance of your brand's online identity, make sure you are acting in the right direction and don't waste the opportunity to build a good digital reputation.


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