6 essential steps to improve your online reputation

Whether you’re a multinational company or an individual, it’s vital to protect your online reputation. Here we examine some common sense measures all of us should be taking, whether we’re trying to reach new customers online or impress prospective employers. If you think this advice doesn’t apply to you, you’re sadly mistaken. A poll by ExecuNet recently revealed that a staggering 90% of recruiters admitted to searching for background on potential candidates online. Online footprints can make or break careers, not to mention the dangers of online security threats like identity theft.

Questionable tweets, Facebook photos and out-of-date LinkedIn profiles can have a direct impact upon a candidate’s employment prospects. Negative search results appearing at the top of the page can be very persuasive in putting off potential customers or employers.

#1                   Google yourselfGoogle yourself

This isn’t vanity. There’s no point spending hours polishing your CV if negative press is the first thing a prospective employer will see when they search for you. Always presume that potential employers will Google you – you need that first page of Google to say only good things. When Googling yourself, make sure the personalized search result setting is turned off (this tailors results to those Google thinks you’ll find most relevant taking into account criteria such as social networks and your location). You should look through all of the search results: though most customers or employers won’t bother looking past the first page of Google if page 1 is positive, there’s always the risk that content on page 2 could bounce up to page 1 suddenly. If that content reflects badly upon you, this could cause you significant problems.

#2                   Be proactive

It’s far easier to deal with any negative press if you’ve already taken the time to build up a strong online presence. Ideally, a prospective employer searching your name should find a number of positive results, such as LinkedIn endorsements, projects you’ve worked on – even your charity work. The next best thing is not finding anything about you online at all, but be warned, where you have no online presence at all, any negative press is going to go straight in at number 1. Online stories or social media profiles might not relate to you at all, merely someone of the same name. Of the recruiters polled by ExecuNet, only 27% raised concerns about material found online with candidates and gave them the opportunity to explain.

#3                   Own as many slots as possibletwitter account

Reputation Defender recommend building profiles on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Search engines like Google view these results as authoritative, meaning they have a strong chance of hitting the first page of results. By setting up, optimizing and maintaining profiles on the main social networking sites, you can create a positive online reputation; even acquire a following. Claim your URL on Facebook to prevent others doing so, potentially diluting your search engine results, and reducing the risk of mistaken identity. Filling out your social media profiles as fully as possible and linking them to one another gives them yet more of a boost in the Google rankings.

#4                   Optimize your profileslinkedin profile

This is particularly important for LinkedIn. Marketing expert Nick Parham recommends writing your LinkedIn profile in the third person as this sounds more professional. By using your name in your LinkedIn profile you are reinforcing to Google that this page is highly relevant and helping it to feature highly in the search results. Your full name should be used at least twice in your profile; it’s important it features at the beginning. You can also feature your name in the headline. It’s vital that your profile reads naturally, so for later references stick with either your first or last name. Incorporating other keywords in your LinkedIn profile and headline which describe what you do is particularly helpful, as is getting others to refer to those keywords in their recommendations.

#5                   Buy domains that incorporate your name

When ranking content, Google gives a lot of authority to words contained in a URL. If the URL of a website, blog or page contains your name, the chances are that Google will rank it at the top of your search results. By buying more than one domain you’re preventing others from acquiring them, and reducing the chances of mistaken identity or identity theft.

#6                   Build an online reputation but share with caution

While we’re discussing building an online reputation across as many sites as possible, it’s important to remember that personal information such as your full date of birth and telephone number should never be incorporated in your social media profile – revealing too much leaves you vulnerable to identity theft.

Reputation Defender help millions of customers worldwide to build and maintain a positive online presence. Get in contact with us today to learn how our team of advisors use their expertise in online reputation management to achieve the best results for our clients.

 

Icons courtesy of Jurgen Apelo

 

4 handy tips for more professional social media profiles.

Remember when you were a kid and your mom always tried to teach you about the importance of sharing?  We were taught to share with others and while we didn’t like it sometimes, we still did it.  It’s 2016 and sharing has taken on a whole new dimension.  Social media has become a fundamental part of our daily lives.  We are constantly tweeting, posting, and pinning every detail of our lives. Normally, we wouldn’t pay too much attention to what someone is posting or how they feel on a certain issue.  We would just criticize or agree with the person and move on.  This however, is not true for talent recruiters or companies looking to fill an important post.  Your online reputation can have a direct effect on how likely you are to get hired or be passed up.

  1.    Check who and what you are following.

One of the most beautiful things about social media is that it allows you to connect with communities where there is a common interest or follow the things and people that we enjoy and admire respectively. You can bet that recruiters are looking into what and who you follow.  This is arguably the first step they take in getting insight into what kind of a person you are.  Do you follow any industry leaders? Are you double tapping things that don’t have anything to do with your field?  Are your favoring trivial tweets?

You need to address those questions.  Your social media profiles should show people that you care about staying updated with everything that is happening in your career.  Social media is not just about fun anymore.  It’s quietly becoming your business card. Following industry related content is crucial to establishing yourself as a serious player.

  1.    Do some house cleaning.

Once you’ve added some industry related likes and double taps it’s time to start working on your profiles.  The first step is to roll up your sleeves, have a cup of coffee, and get ready to do some cleaning.  It is essential that you go back and review what you have posted all across your social platforms.  Check and double check that any photos you’ve uploaded or any comments you have made to see if they can be sensitive to some people.  Some of these can include religion, politics, gay rights, and other controversial topics.  If you have any strong feelings on these issues then you might want to take them down or change the viewing settings so that only you and a select group of people can see.

Right now you might be thinking, “Wait. It’s my right to express myself freely.  Why should I hide my opinions?”  The answer is very simple my friend.  A company might not want to be associated or hire someone who could be seen as an extremist (no matter what side of the argument) since this could tarnish their reputation and they usually work very hard to make sure it isn’t tarnished.

  1.    Choose your words carefully, they will be held against you.

Cleaning’s all set so now let’s consider your future posts.  Just like what you’ve posted in the past can come back to haunt you, what you post in the present can close many doors. Post and comment about things you find interesting in your industry.  The comments should be as insightful and respectful as possible.  And if you still want to comment on controversial topics, do so with respect.  Show people (and possible employers) that you can compromise and are able to understand other points of view that may differ considerably from yours.  If you don’t agree with something, make your argument and support it with facts.  Ensure that your supporting ideas don’t come from any radical opinions or from raw emotion.

  1. Image courtesy of Stanley Zimny at Flickr.com
    Image courtesy of Stanley Zimny at Flickr.com

       Images are worth more than a thousand words.

Do you like to party? Are you constantly posting images with all of your social activities?  Do you like and share images with controversial opinions?  You might want to change your privacy settings in case you’ve answered yes to any or all of the previous questions.  This is similar to what you comment.  You’re pictures can tell a future employer just how serious of a person you are.  We’re not saying you shouldn’t have fun.  The issue might be when you have too much fun.  If you participate in charities, post images of how you help.  You might want to make an album with a collection of infographics that explain or talk about the latest trends.  Like and comment pictures from industry leaders.

If you want a job with the big boys, you can bet they are going to do a thorough background check to ensure you are the best fit for the company culture and that you are a low risk to affect the company’s reputation.  It might not be fair but that’s how many companies are going about their selection process nowadays.  It’s not just about your qualifications, skills, and references anymore.  Your social reputation and behavior is equally as important to a company.  Spruce up your profiles and make them more professional every day. Here’s to a new more professional social you. Cheers.

Click here to read Reputation Defender’s new blog post on how social media can help business strategy.

How employee loyalty or boredom can affect your online reputation?

Many companies focus all their energy on Online Reputation Management (ORM), knowing that in this day and age it is an essential part of their business that can either make or break them. But what some don’t realize, is how an employee can be the one to bring their online reputation to a standstill. Sometimes an unhappy or bored employee can vent through social media networks and this way give off an image about your company that can be very difficult or impossible to erase.

Some companies have already suffered at the hands of an employee posting an inappropriate comment like the case of an IAC employee that tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”. She thought the post was going to be hilarious, but it actually cost her her job right once she got off the plane. The post instantly created an online furor and the “Just kidding” didn’t help. Now, at least this person was not directly associated to the company. There have been tons of other cases where employees post a picture of them bored, angry or simply being silly with hashtags that not only refer to the company, but their feelings like #ihatemyjob, #bored, #akahell, #hell, #hateit or like in one particular post which said #hidinginthebathroom. So, now when a client searched for the company name what they find is an employee post that associates them with hell! There are reported cases of threatening violence, simply being offensive, saying they are going to participate in an illegal activity or being racist are just some that companies are facing in the social media era.

Instagram for example reports 312,631 posts with the hashtag #boredatwork, 37,857 of #ihatemyjob, 30,852 of #hatemyjob, 5,389 of #myjobsucks, 1,318 of #ihatemyboss and 1,078 of #hatemyboss. Now, if this hashtag is coupled with the company name you can start to imagine how this would affect your company’s ORM.

Image courtesy of Kelli at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Kelli at Flickr.com

Now, the complete opposite can also occur. A sense of loyalty after being at the company some years can actually turn them into advocates. By simply sharing how happy they are with their job, co-workers and overall sense of the company they are demonstrating a whole different image of the company that will gain more client loyalty. The platform of choice for executives and work-related connections for your company is LinkedIn, since it is viewed as the most credible professional business website. Once people and companies start interacting on platforms like this you are showing the world the loyalty and quality of employees that are related to the company. Some companies leave the door wide open to employees to promote themselves and even to discuss the company’s brand. By trusting the right employees, you can actually be creating such a positive influence for potential customers that you can gain so much more than you expected. So, if the impact of an employee is so important to ORM, then this should be something to keep an eye for in human resources recruiting process. Especially, when studies have shown that most people look to websites and posts from other sources different than the company to find references. These “voices” from behind the brand are essential because everyone wants to get the inside scoop on a company and hear what the real deal is.

Here are some ideas as to how you can improve your online reputation through your employees.

Monitoring: We normally focus our energy on customer complaints, but we should also be looking out for both positive and negative feeds that are coming through the different channels. Have someone at your company keep eyes on this at the very least during working hours.

Responses: In many cases the response can be the trigger to even more criticism than the initial controversy. So be sure to always respond promptly, openly and honestly. Everyone makes mistakes, and as long as your client can relate to you and the issue at hand there should be no further complaints.

After it’s all said and done: Once the situation has passed, be sure to assess the damage and to figure out what went wrong and needs to be changed. After every complaint there is some truth, something must have gone wrong, be it because a wrong was done or that the way it was handled was inadequate. Regardless, it’s worth reviewing to correct for next time.

Online reputation management is tricky business, but as long as you have a good corporate culture that trusts employees to post and promote their personal profiles, then you can actually turn them into advocates. The reality is that having these voices online will give your clients more trust and in the same way create a stronger and more loyal network of people to support your brand, both internally and externally.

 

Online reputation management: who needs it the most?

With the extensive and continuous growing of internet, almost half of the world population has access to the online information posted everyday on internet. Thus, when we talk about reputation management, we have to talk about ORM (Online Reputation Management). At this moment, there can be someone in the other side of the world posting any sort of information that will affect someone else’s reputation. Even though an unknown person is less likely to be affected by bad online reputation than a well-known person, both of them will need reputation management at some point. However, it is also clear that the amount of information online about an industry leader, a celebrity or a politician is larger, and their names are highly frequent on online search engines. Below, you will find a list showing why some people absolutely need to manage their reputation.

Entrepreneurs

Normally, people who are just starting a new business do not care about their personal reputation. They believe all the attention has to be turn to the company itself. Nevertheless, specialists in reputation management suggest that entrepreneurs need to pay attention to their personal and professional reputation equally. Starting a new business is already extremely difficult, but it could be worse if entrepreneurs have an unattended personal or professional reputation. Therefore, entrepreneurs need reputation management even before starting the company, and during the whole setup process.

CEOs

As entrepreneurs, CEOs (Chief Executive Officer) have their personal and professional reputation closely connected to the company they work for. The process here works both ways: the business reputation affects the CEO’s, and vice versa. Customers, shareholders, media, and business partners are going to search the company CEO’s reputation before doing any kind of purchasing, investment, or commercial arrangement with them. On the other hand, if a company reputation declines drastically, this will immediately affect its chief executive credibility. That’s why CEOs should use all the time an online reputation service to avoid any of these situations which might end up in an awful termination of their careers.

Job seekers

Since the majority of people are going to look for a job at some point in their lives, this category covers almost every person reading this post. With the blossom of social media, we can find practically everyone’s personal information on internet. Personal opinions, leisure activities, pictures, or likes and dislikes, all this online info is there for everybody to see and potential employers are not the exception. They are going to use this data to decide whether an applicant is good or bad for a position in their companies. Even a candidate with a great résumé can be dismissed due to a deficient online reputation. People applying for higher positions in a company are more likely to need an online reputation management. But this does not exclude the rest of job seekers which need to pay more attention to the content they publish on social media.

Image courtesy of Rich LoPresti at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Rich LoPresti at Flickr.com

Politicians

In this category we find the most controversial and difficult people for reputation managers. People involved in politics have many possibilities in which they can end up with a bad reputation, and we can assure that most of these possibilities are going to happen. As there are numerous reasons why politicians need reputation management, and a whole post will be need it to discuss them, here are mentioned just three of them. First, politicians have clear adversaries, personally and professionally, and these people are able to pull some dirty information if they need to do it. Second, they are always in the spotlight, so every little movement, opinion, action, or inaction is going to attract every ones attention. And third, journalists, reporters, anyone in the news business will want to dig deep into a politician life, and they might find some dirt to expose. In conclusion, politicians could be one of the people who need the most a reputation manager in their staff.

Celebrities

As politicians, people in the entertainment business have their professional career always open for public scrutiny, and sometimes they do not know how to separate that from their personal lives. Besides the entertainment business celebrities such as actors, singers, musicians or TV show hosts; we can find sport celebrities as well. Their infamous faces are all the time in our laptops, TV’s, phones screens, etc. The mass media is always looking for more information about them. Even if reporters cannot find news about them, they sometimes make up rumors that can damage a celebrity’s reputation for a long time. As a result, most of them have publicists in charge of the information they give to media, and to the social media arrangements. However celebrities, as we have seen, cannot control all the online information about them. That’s why they also require managers for monitoring, sourcing and creating strategies to keep clear their online reputation.

Struggling with your reputation? Take an active role

We all have expectations for many different aspects of our life, especially when it comes to building our own business. These expectations bring along the willingness of making sacrifices so that our project results the way we imagine or even better.  One of those sacrifices people end up making, when the goal is to be successful, is losing the freedom of acting in the spur of the moment or just following their gut without giving it a thought.  Situations and events tend to lead us to think twice before making a decision, changing our priorities, and redistributing our time and routine.  In other words, we might not be able to attend social events, family parties or just spend sometime in the gym because our business demands from us time to develop ideas.

Imagine how disappointing it can be for one of those devoted entrepreneurs to see their business grow, collect a great number of customers, run smoothly for a period of time and then, out of the blue, just notice that the company got stuck and it is not going as well as expected.  For instance, regular consumers stop requesting the company’s services; or they do request services but less frequently.  It is also possible that the company keeps its regular consumers but it seems not to be able to find new ones.  It has been proved that either of the situations mentioned above are due in many cases to the negative reputation the company has earned.

It is important for customers to validate the information offered by the company. Looking for information online has become a very popular way to find out whether the perception of the company is positive or not. Additionally, it has become a trend for customers to find a way to globally share their experiences. It is unavoidable that both parts end up visiting pages where they can write and read nice and ugly comments. This is how reputation is most easily spread out.

Although it could drastically affect the success of the business, not everything is lost when your company happens to have a negative reputation online. Fortunately for companies, there are actions to be taken in order to lower down the negative impact on regular customers and the new ones aimed. Not all the negative comments have to affect your company in a bad way. Some of them will actually help business improve if they are taken into account! Despite the disappointment, what really matters at this point is not to give up. Instead, it is the right moment to find out what the real reasons for this outcome are, take in what you think can help your company have a better reputation and, as for the rest, just let go.

What to do to reduce negative reputation among regular customers

Image courtesy of Henri Bergius at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Henri Bergius at Flickr.com

It is a great idea, and it has been proven to work, to find out customer’s perception internally, as a company quality process. It is known that customer perception surveys are challenging to carry out. However, companies should not be dissuaded by the feedback surveys will bring up. No company has ever regretted doing this process, even when the outcomes aren’t all good. Asking customers how they liked their experience and receiving their direct feedback on how they perceived the delivery of the service can avoid having customers share comments online. This feedback can be used to inform and influence your staff on internal issues that need to be addressed. It is important to make sure that any flaw in the internal processes of the company is not reflected on the relationship or delivery of the service with customers… It is very likely that unsatisfied employees provide unsatisfying services.

Do not doubt customers’ willingness to respond the survey. They welcome the opportunity to express their opinions. Being heard opens the possibility for a change and they will gladly wait for it to happen, which means, they might give your company another chance before going to the web to speak up their mind and let their dissatisfaction out.

As it can be expected, surveys will also bring up customers with a positive perception of the delivery of services or products your company offers. Make sure they share their experience with the rest of the world, as this will also have an influence on the reputation your company is earning every day.

Every company that wants to be successful for long time should be concerned about its reputation and be aware of how powerful its impact is. This is why, for companies, I would suggest to never take for granted the importance of the comments customers have. And as for customers seeking for the best option they can find online, I would recommend to give it a chance to companies that care about customer’s opinions and needs. And don’t forget… there is no need to believe everything you read!