What You Don’t Know About What Others Are Saying Online About You Online Could Ruin Your Rep
Google says this about your reputation: "Your online identity is determined not only by what
you post, but also by what others post about you -- whether a mention in a blog
post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update."
In a nutshell, your online reputation is made up of everything about your business which exists online. Regardless whom this information is posted by. The range of materials which could potentially impact your business’ online reputation is much broader than you might realize at first. Also, negative issues, which may have arisen through mistakes and the miscommunication of others, can ripple throughout the Internet in surprising ways which can change and/or damage your reputation overnight.
Says Google - Here are some components of your online reputation:
# Comments made by your competition on social sites and blogs
# Comments made by employees and customers
# Images of your business online
# Videos about your business (Good or Bad) on YouTube and elsewhere
# Posts and articles published online about your business by others
# Geo-location information broadcast through online services
Geo-location services includes comments and reviews posted about you or your business on sites like Foursquare and Yelp.
What does the phrase 'Good Reputation' actually mean today?
Although ‘good reputation’ is a phrase it would seem most people know and understand, “it ain’t necessarily so" in todays changed social world and the Internet.
Your good reputation is still the very foundation upon which your business and your life is built. It's made up of everything you and your business does. From the way you treat each customer, the care you give to maintaining your business, yourself. And, in fact, the way you treat job applicants and interviewees can affect your rep. To how you handle customer complaints and vendor-related issues.
It's shocking but true: Your reputation is no longer safe. And that is a fact, not a supposition.
Though you may not realize it, or forget it, search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing pick up every post. Every comment you make. Not to mention pick up every comment anyone makes about you. Not just selected posts, and comments. Everything. Clearly something the rich, the famous and the politically active have yet come to understand.
Good or bad. True or False. Add all these comments together with what you've painstakingly developed - the unique and professional work you've accomplished - and you have what amounts to your Online Reputation. Bogus or not this is your digital footprint.
A good reputation can:
Open your life to better opportunities for jobs, a better lifestyle, better clients and connections, better financial scenarios, promotions and more. Your good reputation is an asset you can continue to build upon. Can leverage as collateral.
On the other hand, a bad rep can build to such a point it's akin to a heavy ball and chain you drag around endlessly. Of no value to you at all. One which can become a serious liability you may never rise above.
Here are 7 excellent, yet simple tips, to help you perform a digital cleanup:
1. Search your name and your business on the top search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo (who now has its own search engine appropriately called “Search”).
Click each link you find to determine where it leads and what’s being said. Connect with whomever posted any negative info and ask it be removed. That done, do not overlook sites like Yelp and Foursquare if you have a service or business people might post a review for. Address negative Yelp and Foursquare comments posted. If the poster of the over-the-top comment does not respond, approach Yelp and ask that it be removed. There’s a 50-50 chance they’ll eliminate it.
First, it's absolutely essential every professional know what their digital footprint is. When you know what’s online, being said about you or your business, it provides you the opportunity to correct the info or delete it when possible. In short it provides you the opportunity to 'manage your reputation'.
Bottom line - when potential clients or companies, interested in hiring you, perform a search of your name you'll already know what's available about you on the Internet. And be prepared- not blindsided - when questions arise regarding what they’ve discovered.
2. Review your social site comments and info.
Needless to say, today companies considering hiring you will check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn posts to name a few. In fact, recent Pew research states 37% of potential clients and recruiters will 'friend' you if very interested in hiring you. Or may 'follow' you. That said, questionable or inappropriate comments you may have made about an ex co-worker or boss, ex-girlfriend or wife, may prove your undoing when it comes to a future job opportunity. It’s best to ‘clean up your act’ before that happens.
3. Update your social sites.
Remove negative or questionable comments or posts; eliminate family and personal photos too personal to have been shared. Remember anyone can ‘hover over’ a Facebook photo and discover the names of any individual who has a Facebook page; and track them down. This could be good. Or not.
4. Disconnect from friends whose comments could cause you problems.
Not only should you remove their comments, but their photos and videos uploaded to your social page. Also, remove posts, videos, comments and photos you may have taken of yourself and posted while drunk or in flagrante delicto (you'd be surprised how many people add these types of posts). Delete posts of you and/or friends partying in clubs or hoisting a cold one.
5. Remove, if possible, articles
and posts which no longer show your current expertise; or ask they be removed.
Post new. Use each new posting opp to build trust and authenticity; to build authority in your niche.
6. Review and/or revamp your blog.
Remove old blog posts and questionable blog comments. Ages ago you may have wound up in what in real life would be a ‘shouting match’. Unless you don’t care, clear all negative or questionable comments from the blog. Remember, your blog is for public consumption. And easy for potential clients and hiring pros to access. These are the type who look unfavorably upon this type of behavior.
7. Overcome the negative with positive.
Re-write your ‘About Us’ page; add better contact info to your site. Post new articles, add some new resources to begin overwhelming old, negative posts and information. Post recommendations and/or ask for new. Begin posting positive comments on other blogs and the social pages of friends and clients. In short, start a positive PR campaign to override your negative past.Says Warren Buffet:
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently".