This is Day 13 of our new series: 30 days to a better online reputation. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a single important lesson!

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” John E. Southard

repped-day13There are two words that are vital to include in your vocabulary if you wish to build a better online reputation. The first is “sorry” and the second is “thanks.” Later in this series you’ll learn how to say sorry when you mess up—yes, there are best practices for apologizing. Today’s focus is on the importance of thanking your supporters and the tremendous benefits that come from showing your gratitude.

Give them an ROI

Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their generosity or kind words. While you should never do something nice for someone just to earn their praise, there’s no doubt that all of us appreciate it when a kind gesture earns us a “thank you.” So why is it that in social media we often overlook this simple token of appreciation?

When someone takes the time to share your press release, tweet out how much they love your company, or leaves a kudos-filled comment on your blog post, it takes just a handful of seconds to reply with a simple “thanks.” When you do so, you demonstrate that you don’t take their public praise for granted. You signal to them your understanding that their endorsement just helped you to raise your reputation a little.

Saying thank you is so important to your online reputation, I want to spend some time walking you through how to find praise, how best to respond, and some pitfalls to avoid.

Say Thank YouEyes wide open

Whether you’ve decided to use a social media monitoring tool or are focusing your efforts on your centers of influence, you should keep you eyes wide open for any form of praise.

If you’ve done your homework, then you’re already an active participant in the social networks where your stakeholders tend to hang out. This means that most of the kudos shared about you will be done so directly with you. A customer will tweet using your @username or perhaps they’ll post a glowing review directly to your Facebook wall and not their own personal one. That’s awesome! That direct interaction makes it easy for you to identify that a thank you is in order.

Just as likely, someone will share your amazing content or mention your latest video, without directly bringing you into the conversation. That’s when a social media monitoring tool earns its keep, by alerting you to a conversation that you might otherwise have missed. You now have an opportunity to engage that person and thank them for their reputation-boosting comment.

How to say thank you

Hopefully some of you just read the above heading and mentally asked, “do we really need to be instructed on how to say thank you?” If you did, you’re one of the smart ones. Unfortunately, far too many individuals and companies overlook not only how to say thank you, but how best to do it. With that in mind, here are some techniques you can use to express your gratitude:

iStock_000011410801XSmallTwitter – for the most part, you need simply to reply to the tweet with a brief thank you. If you’re fortunate, you may earn the love and affection of someone that tweets about you often or retweets you on numerous occasions. You don’t have to say thank you to each instance, but then again no one ever complained for being thanked too much!

Facebook – again, a reply to a Facebook post or comment with a note of thanks will always earn you reputation points, but even just the act of clicking “Like” signals that you appreciate what was written.

Blog Comments – if someone writes a blog post that includes praise for you then you’ve hit the reputation jackpot. The post doesn’t have to be on the Huffington Post or USA Today in order for it to help build your reputation. At the very least leave a comment thanking them for their kind words. One step better, why not share that post via your own social networking channels? The author will appreciate you amplifying their audience and it helps spread the kudos to other key stakeholders.

Email – there’s no cost to send an email to someone. It takes less than a minute to send an email to the person that just bragged about you online. It shows your appreciation while cementing their positive sentiment towards you.

Personally – if you ever bump into one of your supporters in real life, don’t miss the chance to thank them in person. I once sought out a Trackur fan at a conference and specifically stopped him to thank him for all the retweets and social sharing he does of our online content. Paying for lunch or dinner is another easy way to express your gratitude to someone who’s helped grow your reputation.

A Note – what’s the value to your reputation, if someone writes a glowing review about you? I bet it’s worth at least sending a thank you card, a hand written letter, or a small gift.

A word of caution

Before you rush off and start thanking everyone that has ever mentioned you online, there are a few areas of caution to which you should pay attention. First, while it’s okay to share someone’s praise with your own network, do so sparingly. Too much retweeting or Facebook sharing of someone’s praise can appear as though you are bragging and lack humility. There’s no hard and fast rule, but reserve the re-sharing for the praise that others won’t blame you for wanting to share.

In addition, tread carefully when joining conversations about your brand where you weren’t directly invited to join in. A J.D. Power & Associates survey shows that consumers are still not sure if they want you to eavesdrop on their conversations or not. It’s roughly a 50/50 split between those that want you to join in and those that find it to be creepy.

Now that you have a better idea of how to go about thanking those that share praise for your reputation, let’s take a look at how we can generate that positive buzz in the first place. That’s tomorrow’s lesson!

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