Google both your company and personal name right now. What comes up?
In this digital age, it is vital to have an online presence. Websites, squeeze pages, social media, and online forums provide more opportunity than ever to market your business. On the downside, all this great exposure makes it easier for others to find out more about your personal life or things you’d rather not have public.
Just think, are you prepared for a motivated seller to Google You? They are just an example of one group of people you’d like to do business with. How about a potential investor?
Online Reputation Management
If you own a business, a good reputation—online and offline—is clearly vital to your success. When it comes to online content, here are two major categories you should be monitoring:
Personal Shenanigans: These are the silly things you’d rather not share outside of your friends, family, and people who know you well. That YouTube video of your painful belly flop at the family party doesn’t make you a bad person to do business with, but it’s not the best first impression a future contact can have of you. (Or is it??) The same goes for online photo albums.
Negative Content: This type of content is just plain detrimental. Google any phrase or company with the word “scam” after to see what I mean. Then, there are the Personal Shenanigans which turn into Negative Content. For example, a couple years ago when we were interviewing for the Office Manager position, I Googled a candidate’s email address. This is a screen shot of the top search results:
This girl hid her Facebook profile from searches, but didn’t think to include the group she was administrator of. She probably created the group with her friends to be funny, but after that, there was no way we were going to take her seriously.
What can you do?
There are reputation-monitoring services, where you can constantly monitor your brand/name value. Here are some alternatives to obsessively stalking yourself:
- Google yourself. Every 6-12 months, search what others are saying about you out there. Much like scanning an annual credit report for mistakes, you can’t fix something until you know it’s wrong. Also, search the usernames you commonly use for random accounts, forums, usernames, etc.
- Be thoughtful and deliberate. Whether it’s writing a scathing movie reviews on RottenTomatoes.com, or ranting on a political forum—you risk looking like a jerk and/or insane. These posts can easily go under the radar, but there is no guarantee. Also, if you mix business with personal on Facebook, remember that jokes and sarcasm don’t translate as well in text.
- Take the lead. Always be proactive with your reputation management strategy. One of the easiest ways in managing your reputation online is to control and have high rankings on the search engine result pages for your brand. Control your company’s image by being the person who provides the most content on your company. Be an active participant in your industries conversation. Start a blog!
Should You Pay for Online Reputation Management?
ReputationDefender, RemoveYourName, and IntegrityDefender offer pricey packages to help you take on your online reputation. Such companies may be worth looking into, but there is no magical way to erase content from the internet. Once something is uploaded to the web, it’s impossible for you or a third party to remove it without help from the administrator of the website where it appears. It’s even harder to remove content from search engines that cache their results and enable surfers to view content that has been “removed.”
Why not keep it simple? See Google’s instructions for managing your online reputation. Google also allows you to set up alerts for when you or your company is mentioned on the web. For these alerts, start with their “Me on the Web” section.by