They say reputation is everything but what about in the digital age? Let’s face it, social media has changed the world. That’s true when it comes to business, and it’s true for in your personal life, as well. It is so much easier to express a viewpoint today than it was before the World Wide Web introduced us all to a different way of doing things.
Even the language is changing. Branding is no longer just about business. Personal brands are what get you noticed. Ninety percent of recruiters admit to conducting online research of potential job candidates as do 70 percent of employers.
Reputation is everything, and in today’s high tech age, it’s your online reputation that can either sink you or bubble you to the top of your field. How can you go about managing this critical aspect of your personal and professional life?
What is the Goal of Online Reputation Management?
When you hear the word, “reputation” chances are you get a queasy feeling because it involves how other people see you. That’s true both online and off. When someone says something negative about you over the phone, though, it’s a one-off for the most part. They say it and then it’s over. When someone says something negative about you online, it is in the cloud for everyone to see forever.
The goal of online reputation management is two-fold:
- To stay connected with people in a positive way
- To elevate your personal brand
How you go about that is complex.
What Shapes Your Online Reputation?
Google’s magic algorithm takes what it sees online and spits out a blueprint of your life using:
- Social media posts
- Personal blogs
- Name mentions
There is probably more, but no one really understands how Google works. It’s safe to say anything you add to the online has an impact. What shows up during that search is the sum of your online reputation.
Studies show that 91 percent of people trust what they see when Google works its magic, so what they see in an organic search defines you. It’s up to you to manage your online reputation to ensure the conclusions people draw about you work in your favor – that is the goal.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
It starts with understanding how important it is and what influences it. Then you can do more than just manage it, you can shape it yourself.
If you don’t have personal social media pages, what are you waiting for exactly? Social media allows you to connect with friends and family, but it also increases your online presence. That becomes important when you understand that no online reputation is almost as bad as a negative one. Anyone hoping to be a thought leader or an influencer needs to have an online presence.
Make your social media pages high profile, too. Join groups, create posts and post comments. Like pages that interest you and are related to your professional life, as well. The more you do, the better.
Always answer a comment with one of your own, so people know you are active but keep it positive. Online arguing, inappropriate comments or behavior, and temper tantrums work against you in a big way.
Make sure if people talk about you online that what they say is positive and accurate. There is no sure fire way to accomplish that but keeping it semi-professional is a place to start. Don’t:
- Diss colleagues
- Talk about your boss
- Talk about your last boss
- Gossip about others
This isn’t the water cooler, so keep your posts relevant and positive.
Quality content will overshadow anything terrible that you can’t erase, too. It may take a while, but you can repair a damaged reputation by keeping your social media persona upbeat and positive.
Create a Blog
While it’s not necessary for everyone to have a blog, it does help build your reputation by creating more pages to pop up in an organic search.
Write about anything that interests you. If you knit, then blog about knitting. If you love your elderly cat…talk about it. It’s not really about what you write, but just getting your name out there.
If you can develop a theme related to your personal goals, that is an added plus. If you hope to own a bakery one day, write about cooking, for example.
You can also blog about industry-related topics. A businesswoman working in finance might focus on budgeting or learning to manage money. Industry blogs get your noticed in your field. For tips on writing, read How to Write a Business Blog.
If you do keep a blog, post regularly. Otherwise, it won’t have much of an impact on your overall personal brand.
If you don’t already do regular searches on your name, you should start. It’s the only way to get a real impression of your online reputation. Don’t just search Google and move on, though. Search various versions of your name in mainstream search engines like:
Search social media sites, too. It’s the best way to spot someone using your name and polluting your reputation.
Beef Up Your Reputation Based on Your Goals
If you want to be an industry influencer, the first five search results of your name should be about your business. For artists, the first five results should relate to art. If that is not happening, you need to create online assets that get you there. Here are some tips:
- Start an industry-related blog
- Write guest blogs whenever possible
- Ask others to write guest blogs for you
- Take advantage of online posting resources like Medium or Linkedin’s Pulse. You can publish articles on these sites to increase your online presence and get more attention in a vital industry.
- Follow industry influencers on social media. Make comments on their post and try to get their attention. One retweet or like will boost you up.
- Consider setting up another Facebook page for business posts
- Cater the content you do post online towards an audience that will move you up the industry ladder.
If you do have a poor online reputation, you might have to hire a management firm to refocus it. It should be a last resort, though, or for a special occasion like if you are considering changing jobs. A reputation management firm can ensure you have your best foot forward when potential employers search for you online.
Reputation is everything and, today, that means how people see you online. What do you see when you type in your name?