How to keep your online profile out of the ditch

Today online profiles are equivalent to your reputation in high school. Bad news or dirty gossip spread like wildfire and getting rid of that horrible nickname or bad rep is pretty tough to do. Luckily, there are things you can do online to either avoid getting yourself in a bind altogether or get out of one if in need.

Preparing for a brave new world

The reality is that no one is safe from possible Internet bashing, outcries or criticism. Be it companies (big or small) or just everyday ordinary people can be subject to some kind of content that can negatively affect their online reputation. With today’s pocket social media world it is extremely easy to have a client tweet in real time about his or her not-so-good experience at your store, share a humiliating story about you, or accuse you of something you didn’t do. It’s become easy, so we have to become aware and see how we can protect ourselves from the get go.

First of all, it’s important to spread out your presence on social media, not just the obvious ones, but the ones related to your particular field of expertise. By having various channels of communication you can also set things straight a lot easier and reach a larger audience. Now, if you open it of course pay attention to it! If you have a profile on a social media, always check it regularly assuring that you know what’s being shared, tagged or posted about you. You can also increase web presence by creating positive content, blogging and posting as often as you can or consider necessary. This presence will help when search engines look you up.

Some companies have this one person that has become the face of the company. Be sure to protect that image above all. Since that person’s image will most likely be directly linked back to the company, you should be applying any and all reputation management strategies to both the company and this key player.

Image courtesy of Mark Hunter at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Mark Hunter at Flickr.com


When getting your online reputation off the ground be sure to start off on the right foot. Be sure to not mix business and pleasure. If you are managing a personal branding profile or if there is an employee that needs certain visibility be sure to separate this personal life from his work life. Who wants to find pictures of you partying when trying to find your experience? This goes hand in hand with choosing your online name carefully. Similar names or other user names on other networks may cause confusion that can deteriorate your online profile.

One the damage is done

Initially, even the blow can be hard to handle, we have to realize that in this day and age it is impossible to completely erase. We have to learn to handle it and manage the situation in the best possible way. So, when the damage is done explore your options carefully, but initially always make contact. Make the connection with whatever was written or shared about you, because silence can be a slow death. When you reach out, keep in mind it may simply be a mistake that can be retracted or corrected. In fact about 95% of bloggers are willing to retract, delete or correct any information that was misleading or incorrect. When establishing contact with the blogger, client or whoever brought on the negativity be sure to be clear about your expectations, what you would like them to do to assure your online reputation is not affected. Do you want them to retract themselves, correct it or simply delete it within reasonable requests?

Your reaction will be as important as the actual event that affected your reputation. Be pro-active not re-active by staying one-step ahead. Make use of the available tools out there to protect your interests. Don’t wait to hear about it from a friend, get alerts or set up software that can analyze your online profile ever so often. Stay in the game by being informed on what’s being said about you. It goes without saying arguing online with clients or bloggers will not lead anywhere. Always treat negativity with genuine concern and make amends if necessary. At the end of the day if you are getting complaints, listen to your clients. They could be helping you grow and improve, if you’re willing to listen and grow.

Staying alert when the calm has set in

Remember you can never truly erase anything in today’s interconnected world, so always watch out for any ripple effects from past negative experiences. Also, if you hadn’t already put in place reputation management strategies, this is the moment to do so. If you’ve survived some negativity, make sure you’re prepared for future situations by taking the necessary measures.

3 Types of Reputation-Ruining Content that You Need to Know About

The rise of the Internet has changed the way that people and businesses interact, altering communication styles, marketing habits, and collaboration methods while promoting our ability to conduct quick, effective research.

Search engines like Google and Yahoo have also opened individuals and businesses up to a domain in which their success can be significantly impacted by the state of their online reputations. While many factors can result in a positive image the web, the following issues are the most likely to negatively affect your online reputation:

Poor Business Reviews

thumbs down disagreeUnfortunately, statistics show that a negative experience is more likely to be shared by a customer online or by word of mouth. According to one study, a poor experience with a business was 50 percent more likely to be discussed on social media than a positive experience, and 52 percent more likely to bring their story to a review site like Yelp. Additionally, a survey conducted by Zendesk in 2013 deduced that 90 percent of customers who read online reviews were swayed by their content, and factored them into their purchasing decisions.

A business owner who does not pay attention to the negative reviews that his or her company receives online may be significantly impacting sales numbers and the potential success of the company. However, the damage done by negative reviews does not need to be permanent.

The most useful action a company can take when it receives a bad review is to respond with a well-constructed, professional comment. Within the comment, business owners should offer the customer an apology and outline the way in which they will make sure their business avoids the problem in future transactions.

To demonstrate to people reading the review that they value customer satisfaction, companies should refrain from using accusatory language or placing blame on the person who left the review, no matter the circumstances.

Bad Press

When a company or individual becomes involved in a significant dispute of any kind, it may end up on the internet in the form of a news article, court document, post on a gossip website, or scandalous picture.

Among the most common types of bad press on the internet are legal disputes, scandals involving an individual’s personal life, and reports on customer complaint sites, which allow anonymous posters to post commentary – honest or otherwise – about a business’ services or products. In comparison with more general customer review sites like Ye;[, which requires posters to identify themselves for the sake of honesty, customer complaint sites do not offer potential customers a fair look at a company, yet still rank high on search engines.

Similarly, smear sites that are designed specifically to air personal grievances also allow commenters to remain anonymous while authoring posts. When a name is mentioned on these websites, Google’s algorithm ranks them as important due to factors such as a high click-through rate, the age of the website, and a steady growth rate in comparison with its years of operation.

Though personal requests for the removal of this information from such sites are rarely granted, individuals may want to consider enlisting the help of a reputation management service in order to explore their options.

No Web Presence

As damaging as scandalous content and negative reviews can be, having no content available on the internet at all can be a major disadvantage to both businesses and people. As a business, establishing a web presence increases both visibility and the reach of advertising initiatives, driving sales through the procurement of a larger customer base.

With the Internet now playing a dominant role in American consumerism, it is highly likely that competing businesses will establish a web presence, which puts companies without a website or online presence at a distinct disadvantage. Having a strong website and marketing platform on social media sites lends companies a degree of trust and credibility from potential customers. While a business with a website may not automatically be seen as reliable, but a company without a website is likely to be seen as undependable or risky.

As with businesses, individuals who choose not to participate in social media may find it difficult to secure job interviews. Recruiters frequently use search engines as a preliminary screening tool for potential job candidates, and a lack of presence online may tell potential employers that an individual does not place importance on being contemporary.

To begin establishing a presence online, businesses can create a basic website that provides the company’s name and logo, contact information, and a short description of the product or services that it provides. This kind of website should be used as a starting point, and can be expanded upon as time or budget permits.

Individuals would do well to establish themselves on professional sites like LinkedIn, providing the details of their work experience and any schooling or certifications along with a professional headshot. To make a greater professional impression, job seekers should consider authoring a blog which showcases the individual’s knowledge and capabilities with regard to his or her professional industry.

5 Online Reputation Management Tips for Legal Professionals

When searching for a product or service to accommodate even your smallest of needs, consumers often turn to the Internet in order to help them make an educated decision about where to take their business. In situations where consumers need assistance in a matter that will significantly impact their quality of life, they can also use the Internet as a resource to help them research the quality of the professionals who can provide them with services that will yield the most positive outcomes.

Few professions focus on services that impact a person’s quality of life more than that of the legal industry, where investing in the wrong professional could result in significant monetary losses or even jail time. A lawyer can help clients in many areas of their lives, and those who have the financial ability will choose a professional with the best reputation for winning cases in a particular field of law.

As a result, lawyers and other legal professionals could benefit significantly from the practice of online reputation management. In order to foster greater professional success, legal professionals should consider the following online reputation management tips:

Establish a presence on popular legal directory sites

Although many prospective clients will use search engines to find information about professionals in the field of law, online legal directories are still considered a viable resource for locating attorneys, and many allow individuals to search either by name or legal issue. The most popular online directories include well-established sites such as FindLaw, SuperLawyers, Avvo, and Lawyers.com.

Legal professionals can strengthen their online reputation by signing themselves up on these websites and filling out the profiles as thoroughly as possible. Additionally, it is important to include a picture of oneself on each site so that potential clients can put a face to a name. Adding a picture to these sites makes each profile look much more professional, and may make a potential client more inclined to enlist your services.

lawyer business suit and tie

Claim your name

Since lawyers’ names are often also their brand, it is important that they claim domains and social media handles with their names in them. Purchasing a .com domain with your first and last name in it will help prevent others from buying the domain to use against you and will also help you to remain on the first page of search engine results, since a URL that contains a search term ranks more highly on websites such as Google and Bing.

Additionally, legal professionals should consider claiming any available social media handles that contain their first and last name for similar reasons. Regardless of whether or not you plan to be active on a given social media platform, it is highly likely that someone else will eventually own the handle if you choose not to claim it. Claiming a handle can also help you avoid impersonation or sabotage from competitors or other individuals who may want to see your online reputation deteriorate.

Monitor your reviews

One of the most important practices in online reputation management is routinely monitoring the conversation that goes on about yourself and your business practices online. When attorneys fail to periodically perform a quick search of their names online, the posts and comments left on review sites about them go unanswered and their online reputation can decline sharply or portray an image that does not match their business’ practices.

Regardless of whether a comment is positive or negative, the best course of action is to respond in a way that showcases your ability to remain professional under any circumstances. While positive feedback should be acknowledged with a simple show of gratitude, negative feedback offers an opportunity to show anyone reading your reviews that you value client input, and that you will use any negative feedback to make your business more effective.

Consider running a law blog to strengthen your image

Strategic, original content is highly effective in making its way onto the first page of Google search results and is an excellent way to maintain some control over what shows up when a client or other legal professional searches for you on the Internet.

In order to command more space on the first page of Google search results, consider investing your time in a blog that discusses common legal issues or that provides information about your practice. Professionals in the legal industry have specific guidelines for what can and cannot be legally posted online for prospective clients, so discretion should be exercised when writing articles on legal topics.

Practice mindful social media habits

When legal professionals choose to incorporate social media platforms into their online reputation management strategies, it is important that they be mindful of what their posts may communicate about them and their businesses to potential customers or professional partners. Consider how a picture or comment will be perceived objectively before posting it, and stick to subjects that are informational or neutral in nature, avoiding controversial topics.

Another important aspect of curating a positive online image is to remain consistent across multiple social media platforms. You should aim to be consistent in the language, subject, and degree of professionalism for each website in order to have the greatest impact on your online audience.

Have your company be one with the world, not be the only one in the world.

Every time there are more and more companies that are incorporating into the 2.0 world through their profiles on social networks. Many of these companies have not traced previous goals but they sense that “they should be there”. Others, however, resist, because they consider that it is a way to provide a platform of expression to dissatisfied customers. Those that still resist are the same ones that are unaware of the mechanics of the 2.0 because the dissatisfied customer continues to express himself in other forums that, perhaps, they are not aware of.. Therefore, isn’t it better to have one or several profiles and be able to control part of what is being said about my brand.

1. The power of honesty

Experts in Social Media state that when you are honest with your community there is an impact for your own benefit: “If you add value, whether it is by responding to complaints or problems effectively, or simply by the fact that you care about the customer even though you cannot solve his problem at the moment, you still let him see that you become involved and do not cease to attempt fixing whatever troubles him.  This customer will surely put on a good word for you in the future.

2. The power of coherence

Consistency is closely related to honesty and it is safe  to say that if we follow a line, not only what we say but how we present ourselves, what topics talk about, with whom we dialogue, etc., the customer assumes what we are and what we want to be for him, regardless of whether he is interacting with us online or offline, if we follow the path of coherence, we will also give coherence to brands arising from my company, or for the ones we work for in the future.

Now, the brand as such gets stronger the more consistent we are, but we must be clear on that consistency is not always doing the same thing being consistent does not mean being closed and cling on to the monotony of our own activities.

3. The power of professionalization

Let take into account that the reputation of the brand must be managed in a professional manner, for example, community managers are essential to the management of the online reputation of companies and organizations. It is essential that they are exceptionally well trained given the impact of their work, let’s not let the last person in our company to manage our reputation. We are playing too much by doing that and the role played by this professional can even create a before and after in the managing of our relationships and our target audience engagement.

Image courtesy of Dennis Hill at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Dennis Hill at Flickr.com

4. The power of the apology and the problem resolution

We must not forget that the new era of communication is determined by the constant immersion in a continuous dialogue. We assume that we want strong relationships with our environment and our environment will apologize in advance for its (future) errors. To do this, we must adopt a humble attitude and recognize our faults when they occur, but also we must take into account the apology before any rupture in the relationship happens, and not try to evaluate if we only have a small or large responsibility in the problem, the real aim is to reassure the customer, and so a proactive and conciliatory attitude is fundamental in order to resolve, within our means, the situation.

5. The power of planning.

In this field it is better to prevent than to try and cure. Repairing the reputation of a person or a company is much more costly in time and money than a proactive prevention strategy. And that’s the key: we must plan to have options, when we find ourselves in a reputation crisis for our brand name, we must either avoid it or moderate its impact. So, it is necessary to establish a plan that will always be our frame of reference.

6. The power of customer service

Most people rely on social networks to express their feelings, both of joy or frustration. As we pointed out earlier, many companies are reluctant to creating profiles on social networks to avoid precisely that: that their clients express themselves. But, aren’t they aware of the fact that customers will be also expressing in other forums, moreover, forums that we can’t control? Therefore, loos at this situation as an opportunity: we must be prepared to accept the opinions of customers and provide them with a better service. This way we can even humanize our brand.

7. The power of being open minded

The world is changing and we have to change with it, accept trends, accept new ways to express yourself, accept new ways people express themselves and even use it to your advantage by building campaigns that make use of this changes that are all over the world.

Tips you need to handle bad reviews and gain reputation

There’s no such thing as bad publicity! A phrase many have said as consolation in moments of negative press.  How wrong they are. Negative comments, press, or scandal can doom or severely damage any brand, Volkswagen still pops to mind.  Companies spend millions of dollars trying to make sure they are reliable and that customers are one hundred percent satisfied.  However, there is no way to make everyone happy.  Everyone is a critic as they say, and when someone is not happy they will go out of their way to make sure the whole world knows it.  Internet is the fastest most visible way to get through to people nowadays.  So what can you do to make sure you come out unscathed when the negative bug bites you in the butt?

A little good goes a long away

Positive feedback is possibly the most effective way to handle negativity.  Think about the following case.  You’re planning a trip to an exotic island and you’re stuck on hotels.  You go online looking for a hotel right for you and boom, you think you found it.  Everything looks nice, they’ve got a lot of pretty pictures and you’re almost ready to decide.  You go to the comments and reviews sections and you start reading.  It seems that people have had many pleasant experiences, but all of a sudden you find a negative one.  Is one negative review going to overcome ten positive reviews you just read?  Probably not.  It is human nature to follow the crowd and the better people think of you the less likely negative reviews will hurt you.  Making sure you give reasons for your audience to be happy and engaged.  Ask them to take the time to tell you what they liked and make sure those comments get exposure.  And under no circumstances do you offer your audience money or incentives for positive feedback; it’s a big no-no and extremely unethical.

You are not rubber

Back when we were kids it was common to deal with an insult or criticism with “I’m rubber, you’re glue.  Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” Another dandy was “I know you are, but what am I.”  We’re not in middle school anymore, so don’t let your inner teenager out.  We are prone to take things personally and when we don’t like what someone writes, blogs, or says it’s only natural to answer in kind. HUGE mistake.  Answer negative comments with a kind, professional attitude.  And for reputation’s sake, take it outside.  E-mail the disgruntled reviewer and get to the bottom of things.  Get as many details as you can, and once you’ve come up with the solution let the community know.  Reply to the review with the solution you offered, being as transparent as possible about the whole process.

Keep an ear to the ground

Image courtesy of Jeff Stvan at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Jeff Stvan at Flickr.com

 

You’re internal reviews are what you can control directly. What about what others say online?  Do you have the time to go through every review site and browse?  You probably don’t.  There is a cornucopia of tracking tools available for you to stay on top of what’s being said online about you and make sure that you’re reputation isn’t being tarnished by others.  Deal with negative reviews as you would if they were on your own site.

Give me an S! Give me an E! Give me an O!

Search engine optimization has for a while now, one of the greatest aids in improving positive perception about your business in order to avoid those pesky one stars which can really bruise your reputation, especially if you’re just starting to get known in the market.  SEO helps websites understand what works best for them. It serves a wide range of functions, for example:

  • Researching, analyzing and picking keywords that will give you a better chance at bringing in traffic.
  • Optimizing your content to make sure it is interesting and worth sharing.  This will ultimately lead to credibility and authority, two pillars of reputation management.
  • Building relationship with others in your field than can validate and vouch for you.

You can be the nicest, most generous person in the world and you might run an important and credible site or business, but someone will always have a bone to pick with you.  There’s no escaping the fact.  Dealing with it accordingly, preemptively and when it happens is key to make sure negative comments don’t affect your reputation in a way that will drop you out of the page 1 and into the no man’s land of page 2 and beyond of search engine results.  Take steps in making sure you have a strategy to deal with negative comments both on your site and external review sites, use SEO to your advantage, and stock your pantry with positive feedback.  Good publicity is the only publicity you want and you should strive for it.