Online reputation management
Protecting one’s online reputation – personal or professional – is extremely important in this day and age. The power of the Internet should never be underestimated. Dissatisfied customers, bitter co-workers and disgruntled employees alike have the potential to seriously damage one’s image on the web.
In order to protect one’s reputation, it is crucial to exercise self-control and censorship when posting content to the Internet. Social networks are an easy place to get carried away and share comments or opinions that might later be used against a person.
One should never forget that content published in an online platform such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs can be viewed by anyone: This means potential employers, recruiters and clients. Most networks are directly associated with one’s name and will come up in an online search.
Many forget that content posted online cannot only be found, but it has the potential to stay there permanently.
Personal censorship is an easy thing to control online. If it seems like something that could be potentially embarrassing or damaging to one’s reputation, it is probably best left unsaid. But what other people have to say about a person or business on the Internet is an entirely different and much more difficult situation to manage.
The beauty of the Internet – and its inherent danger – is that anyone has the power to post anything they want. This means that satisfied clients can rave about a business or its products, whereas cynics and disgruntled customers can just as easily blow off some steam in a blog or review.
Businesses should monitor such online conversations to find out what people are saying about them and to discover which issues need to be addressed. After determining which comments could turn into potential problems, the next step is to resolve them.
A common solution in dealing with online criticism is to simply delete the comments. Although this might be an easy short-term answer to the problem, it’s not always the best idea. In doing so, this conveys to the online community that a person or business has something to hide.
The best thing to do in this situation is to respond to the critical commentary in an apologetic and understanding manner. The customer is always right, and unfortunately, this translates to the social sphere as well. Most dissatisfied clients will appreciate the time and attention they received with a response to their issue, which may even lead them to remove the comment and gain a new perspective on the issue.
Another way to respond to negative online comments is through a blog. Creating a blog with one’s name in the URL will create favorable search engine result pages (SERPs) when people look up the name of a person or business. This will help to push some of the negative content down on the list of results and keep the blog at the top.
Blogs also give the receiver of negative commentary a chance to defend him or herself in a respectable and legitimate online platform. Frequently updating the blog will help the positive content to be viewed before the criticisms. Google responds well to fresh content, and by tagging keywords that are relevant to the issues that need to be resolved, the content of the blog will be more visible in search engine results.
Ideally, all potentially reputation-tarnishing issues online could be resolved via direct communication with the person or organization that originally posted the comment. However, there are unfortunately a lot of people out there who are bitter and quick to jump at the opportunity to criticize.
If a problem can be solved through an apology or explanation, this is the best way to handle it. When you’ve exhausted all other avenues, however, the best way to increase your positive presence online is to create new, engaging content.
Berline, Amanda. “How To Protect Your Online Reputation” Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/01/online-reputation-protect-leadership-careers-networking.html Accessed 10/17/11
Carracher, Jamie. “4 Ways to Protect the Reputation of Your Small Business Online” Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/10/15/protect-small-business-reputation-online/ Accessed 10/17/11
Weinberg, Tamar. “Manage Your Online Reputation” lifehacker http://lifehacker.com/357460/manage-your-online-reputation Accessed 10/17/11