As a business owner, managing your online reputation is an essential component of brand management. Today, when someone wants to know about you or your business, they don’t just look at your resume, or simply call your references, or even trust your testimonials on your website, as much as they trust their own Internet searches. From social media, to your webpage, to online review sites, you have a lot of buzz to manage.
Take a look at the feedback businesses are receiving on sites such as Yelp! and you’ll see that certain types of businesses can’t seem to get a good review if they try. Some business people have responded to bad reviews in a way that only makes matters worse. Other businesses seem to be managing their reviews nicely and seem to be on top of their game. Like most things in business, online reputation management is something you have to first know that you need to do, and then know how to do it.
Do a search on your own business name (or personal name) via Google Search, as you type, notice what is coming up in Google’s instant search. Is it what you want people to see, or is something else coming up that may give people a bad impression of you and / or your business? If the words that come up, and the sites that you see are good, be glad and work toward keeping it that way. If, however, the search results that are popping up are less than ideal, you know you need to work harder on online reputation management.
Have you combined your business social media with your personal social media? If so, you need to work toward separation as soon as possible. In addition, separate or not, if people know your name it is important to be careful what you do and say on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. In fact, even an innocent response to a news article can show up in search engines and alienate potential clients.
The days of Internet privacy may be over, but there are some things you can do to keep some semblance of privacy. Each email account, each social media account and each forum or group that you join offers privacy controls. Learn to use them on day one to avoid embarrassing issues. Also, don’t share anything, pictures or otherwise on social media that you wouldn’t tell your Mother. Don’t even forward a questionable joke, email, or photo of yourself if you don’t want it to be public knowledge.
Being careful about what you say in public sounds like censorship to a lot of people, but it’s truly in your hands, and up to you what you share and say. If you would not normally say something in publicly in a group, why say it online? If you know your opinions on a particular matter would alienate your target audience, why say it? If you want to do whatever you want and say whatever you want, perhaps you need a new target audience. Managing your online reputation is imperative to your success.