Your online personal reputation is the perception people have of you when they find you online. According to Internet Live Stats, on average, online users conduct 40,000 searches on Google every second. Think about it. Someone, somewhere out there could be looking for your profile to offer you a job, or even an exciting business opportunity. That’s why you need to ensure that the search engine displays your profile, and not that of your namesake alias who’s potentially been sent to prison.
And here’s another thing, of the 75% of Americans that have searched for their profiles online, at least half said that they weren’t impressed with what they found. If this is you, you’d be wise to consider managing your personal online reputation online. That way, your image as seen by others will be the way you really want it to be.
People Judge Based on Reputation
Your profile online is given merit based on your reputation according to key authority sites that you use. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google – these are all authority sites many people use, that provide strangers (or potential employers) with information about you and your history. To make sure these authority sites serve you well, it important to practice the following when managing your personal reputation within them:
- Eliminate Bad Information: You may need to undertake negative publicity removal steps to deal with any unpleasant posts and images of you that are circulating on the internet. Your old boss who fired you for no reason, a close friend you had a fallout with, or even a disgruntled customer – it’s entirely possible that your online reputation has contributed. Given the freedom of speech the internet now allows, it’s entirely possible for people to talk out about you in a negative way too, so diligence needs to be given to your online reputation if you’re looking to build a name for yourself – for the right reasons.
- Keeping Your Content Relevant: As a competitive business person, you’ll want your online persona to reflect your professional one. Any pictures and posts that take away from that “professional” persona are a definite no-no. A prospective business partner looking to collaborate with you will unlikely approve of pictures of your recent vacation in Vegas, so perhaps think twice before sharing these with a global audience on your social media. If you’re serious about your online reputation, and you should be, it’s best if you delete all such photos, and ask your friends and family members to do the same. If you’re tagged in pictures, remove them also. There’s a fine line between having an online personality and becoming an online personality. Make sure you draw a line in the sand.
As an example, almost 15 years ago, Robert Downey Jr. was the target of many a punchline for late night TV show hosts. At that point, his career had nearly disintegrated, and his personal life had spiraled out of control with substance abuse. So how did he build a new reputation for himself? He started making really good movies and giving top-notch performances. He flooded the world with all his good qualities, and as a result, very few care about his past. The quality of this new content overshadows everything else.
If It’s On The Web, It’s There For All to See
If you weren’t already aware, the internet is a sea of free-for-all resources that, with the right skills, anyone can gain access to. Infamous hackers have been exploiting security loop-holes in online content since the internet was created, and it’s going to continue. Despite strong security measures being taken by authority sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and the like, be wary of the potential for your information to reach the public realm. Practice diligence.
Take care that the blogs and pictures you post don’t reveal intimate details that can make you the target of cyberbullying and blackmail (yes, that happens too!). Statistics published by the Pew Research’s “Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era” say that 81% of Americans are wary of posting personal information on social media sites even when they want to share it with some person or organization that they are familiar with. Take a page out of their book. Be wary.
How to Improve Your Personal Reputation
So with all the potential for negative publicity that we’ve discussed, what about the good stuff? How can you increase your personal reputation profile online? What you really need is a reputation management system that outlines a specific strategy you can work on. That said, to begin with, you can try the following:
- Create your own web page after buying a domain name which closely matches your own. A dot com is best for SEO purposes.
- Sign up with social media platforms like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and any others. Build rich profiles which positively portray your personality, skills, and expertise to potential clients.
- Start a blog on topics that interest you or that are relevant for business you’d like to be a part of. That way, people searching for you will get the sense of who the “real you” is.
- If you’re looking to build up your professional image, use your web page to talk about past achievements, CV, job positions you’ve held, and so on. Having a rich, up-to-date LinkedIn profile is extremely valuable as well. LinkedIn works like a virtual CV or resume, so it’s naturally indexed by search engines and ranked highly in job search results.
- Seek testimonials from past companies. You can do this via email, posting the results on your own website, or LinkedIn has an excellent feature allowing you to request feedback from clients and employers you’ve worked for.
Good Reputation Management in Practice
Wondering what exceptional reputation management looks like? Here are two great examples of troublesome situations that have been skillfully downgraded by using targeted reputation management techniques.
Speciality grocery store Whole Foods, known for their natural selection of food, also became known for their political stance in 2009. CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal detailing his stance on Obama’s healthcare reform, which caused a controversy among Whole Foods customers.
Realizing how severe this could be for the company, Whole Foods provided a response statement (see above) on Facebook two days later, to manage the effect on their reputation. In the process, they also created collaboration and engagement by inviting a civilized discussion, and maintained their brand reputation.
Sometimes, examples of reputation management done right can be found in the most unlikely places. Places such as airline company social media pages.
It’s no surprise to anyone that one of the most inconvenient events to occur in a traveller’s life is to have your flight delayed, cancelled, or pushed back for no reason. When this happens, it’s safe to say that many of us have taken out our frustration on social media. But JetBlue is keen to respond to and help frustrated customers as quickly as possible – all for the sake of customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
Clearly, JetBlue understands the important role customer loyalty plays on their reputation, which is one of the reasons the airline has become so popular.
Need Help? Try These Reputable Reputation Management Companies
Managing your personal reputation online is an important step for any professional individual or business. Your reputation speaks louder than your words, so to make sure that the information people see reflects your true strengths and abilities, consider seeking the assistance of companies out there that specialize in online reputation management.
Here’s our top pick:
Reputation management is an important tool for the success of your brand, and may warrant the extra assistance from professionals to ensure your best face is projected to your future clients.
Your Reputation, Matters
Building and maintaining your online reputation is a must for business operating in this, the era of technology and a social media revolution. Every move you make is being watched, and a running commentary can be started at any time, on many platforms, that can damage your brand, and put a significant dent in your bottom line.
Personal reputation management should be part of any successful business strategy, and if you’ve not yet taken steps to address yours, then maybe it’s time you followed the lead of companies like JetBlue. Preempt your customers’ needs with meaningful and targeted interactions through an online reputation management strategy for your brand.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, here’s an extensive guide that provides more guidance on reputation management and how to approach it best.
What do you think? Do companies like JetBlue manage their online reputation well, or could they do a better job? How do you manage your reputation online? Share in the comments below!