Women in Tech panelists agree – Boosting your reputation online starts with quality content

This morning, the panelists at the AZ Tech Beat Women in Tech event put some spice in everyone’s coffee with a side of real and raw discussion about managing your reputation online. In the digital world, we have our personal and our professional image, and the panelists offered advice on how to best manage these while remaining true to oneself.

From left to right: Francine Hardaway, Aly Saxe, Lauren Strait, Tishin Donkersley and Monique Hoffman.
From left to right: Francine Hardaway, Aly Saxe, Lauren Strait, Tishin Donkersley and Monique Hoffman.

Moderated by Chief Editor of AZTB Tishin Donkersley, the panel included Francine Hardaway, co-founder and CEO of Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator for tech and healthcare entrepreneurs; Aly Saxe, CEO and founder of Iris PR Management, a software company created to cure the headaches found in the world of public relations; Monique Hoffman, creator of social media management firm QtheBrand; and Lauren Strait, mommy blogger of Macaroni Kid.
A common theme throughout the panel was an emphasis on producing transparent, quality content when managing and promoting a brand’s image and reputation — personal or otherwise — online.
“It’s all about quality content,” Hardaway said. “If you are a person publishing with personality for a brand, you’ll be fine.”
How do you know if the content is high quality? Do what technology is supposed to do and test to see what works, Hardaway said.
Entrepreneurs need to test the social landscape to find out where their audience is engaged and act as a content mixologist to discover which material quenches their thirst.
“Consumers want to be educated, but they don’t want to be told what to do,” Strait noted, adding her suggestion to pair posts, especially Facebook, with a pin-worthy photo.
Besides photographs, quality content rules and it could be anything from answering questions from the audience to linking useful information that captures their attention. This strategy of testing and mixing content works to provide value to the target group and promote engagement between the brand and audience.
“People are choosing what they want to see in their feeds and if you put out good quality content, they will want to see it,” Saxe said. “If you are not getting engagement, then you’re not making quality content.”
Besides using obvious social media channels or splurging on a PR agency to promote content, blogs are a great way for women and their companies to reach their target audience.
“Not all startups can afford a PR agency, but everyone can afford a blog,” Hardaway said. “Unlike media relations that are not always in your hand, a blog is something where you’re always in control and can develop a voice and personality.”
AZTb Women-2But what about the trolls or unhappy customers who are waiting to launch a personal attack at any given moment? The panelists agreed to acknowledge the individual publicly, then take it offline as fast as you can to diffuse the situation. However, if the person is just plain inappropriate, don’t be afraid to delete ones that don’t add value to the discussion.
The conversation turned to ones’ personal versus private life and how to deal with the overlap. A few years ago — and even for some today — the idea was to create multiple social accounts to separate your personal life from your entrepreneurial business; the panel agreed that this system becomes unrealistic as both brands, especially if you are the brand, are likely to grow and merge together over time.
However, while you may use the same Facebook and Twitter account for yourself and your brand, it’s important to treat the online environment as a networking event rather than as a diary or rant outlet.
“I look at Facebook as one giant networking event, so I wouldn’t post something that I wouldn’t tell a stranger,” Saxe said.
This also goes for what pages you like on Facebook, Hoffman added. Your “friends” or “followers” will see what you prefer and that could be a piece of information you may not want out there.
One of the main points of advice the panelist emphasized was the importance of keeping the “you” in your online persona instead of trying to please everyone.
“For the most part, I am me, and I am a mom,” Strait said. “I am who I am, and not everyone is going to like me.”
The next digging, real-talk Women in Tech breakfast is scheduled to be held in February 2015.
Thank you to our sponsors of Women in Tech breakfast Fall 2014

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