Remember the book 1984 by George Orwell? The premise was that we are constantly being watched and there was a total end of privacy. We now live in an age where many of us can relate to this situation. Social media today is starting to feel as if there are too many eyes and ears are on everything we say and do. We may think we have control online and that our privacy settings are top notch but sadly we cannot rely on technology. Quite simply, social media is an invasive practice that many of us do not always feel comfortable with.
The internet can be a difficult terrain to navigate. We have to be careful sharing our opinions, thoughts, and beliefs because once it’s out there, it’s out there for good. There is also the potential of anything we say offline could end up on the internet too.
If you are a public figure (or a business owner) there is something very smart about censoring yourself to avoid unwanted attention. It’s hard to believe that in this day in age we have to constantly monitor what we say but we also have to monitor what is said about us online too. Keep in mind that the whole social media thing is not that old. When sharing online became the norm, we were not really taught how to conduct ourselves online. We had to learn by trial and error, by following online trends and by following what the “experts” were saying. Not all expert advice was good in the early days of Facebook and Twitter.
A good rule of thumb: if you are not sure you should share something online then you should follow that doubt like a parent and don’t.
There is an upside to all this. It is possible to control the way we are seen on the internet to some degree. Online reputation management or ORM involves monitoring what is said or seen about a person, brand or company on the web. This encourages the visibility of positive information and suppressing any negative information. It’s good to know that we have resources to smooth things over if issues arise.
Monitoring Your Online Reputation
Monitoring works by keeping an eye on all of your mentions on the internet. This means keeping careful track of search engine results for key terms like your name, address, company name or brand name. Anywhere that your name could show up is a place that needs to be monitored and not just on Google. Remember that there are many social networks we belong to and other search engines that can turn up different results.
The Basics of Building a Good Reputation Online
As you steadily build your reputation online, there are things to remember:
Focus on positive content
You need to make sure that the information that the world sees is the best content that you can provide. Regularly publishing your own content in a variety of places increases your visibility online. This lets people know who you are and what values or messages you represent. Alternatively, by sharing posts by others online, you help build your community. As they say, sharing is caring!
Keep your private information private
Your best line of defense against problems online is to keep all your private information hidden from the public eye. The best advice you can follow is to NOT post that type of information online in the first place. Set aside time every week to check your privacy settings everywhere to make sure you are limiting who can see your details.
Deal quickly with any negative information.
If you find something inappropriate, negative or unflattering about you online, you will need to counteract it fast. Never let a piece of negative content get so entrenched in people’s minds or, even worse, go viral on the internet.
Go for positive humour!
Simply put, good honest down to earth humor is hard to dispute.
Look to see if anything odd or negative comes up in your search. On the upside, when this is done you also will see all the good things and testimonials folks are talking about too. That is invaluable information that you can use!
Sadly, it’s hard not to have negative things show up about you somewhere at some time that you don’t want anyone to see. It could be a bad review, a complaint or the very common online trolling for attention. We never want to be a target for someone’s bad mood or bad day. We certainly do not want to argue with anyone online either. It may not seem earth shattering or destructive, but it’s definitely not something you want out there lingering without you being able to control how others perceive it.
What are your options?
Contact the person complaining.
Ask them why they put out a bad opinion or complaint. Listening and offering to help can be an incentive to make amends that can work in your favor. This could lead to you eventually gaining a good comment or review. It can’t hurt to ask.
Address it online. Be open.
By discussing an issue openly, it lets your audience know that you care and have the professional chops to step up to the plate and admit a mistake. It’s human to make mistakes and it is also human to empathize with those who made them. Look for the common ground by connecting with those who will see your posts. Honesty is a really great image to portray. This builds trust.
Get it removed.
If this negative spotlight is beyond your control you can try to delete it or to push it down in the search engine results. Those who have spent time online can spot a troll and someone who steps over the social media line. Sadly, not all will be convinced so it’s best to get rid of useless information about you or your business. Anyone in your position would do the same. Do not feel like you are doing something wrong by getting rid of it. No one wants bad ideas being spread about us or our professionalism.
Kill them with kindness
Dominate your search results with positive content, and testimonials so people will be far less likely to see that one item that might embarrass you or cause the wrong impression. This is probably the best approach to dealing with negative posts. Think of it as killing them with kindness but with social media. This positive content should shed a light on your values, business beliefs and what you stand for as a working professional. We all want to be lifted up, inspired and enlightened online so this kind of content can go a long way to help stifle that bad stuff floating out there.
It doesn’t matter if you are an individual, a small business, or a large company, you still need to be concerned about your reputation on the web since everyone uses the internet to search for information. One negative review, comment or photo can affect you for many years down the road. Be proactive today by monitoring your online reputation carefully and take control of how the world sees you.