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.
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.