Contributed by Dave Buesing, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Protecting your reputation can seem a lot like protecting an invisible friend – you know full well they’re worth your time, but they never really express their gratitude verbally.
Your online reputation can be particularly tough to control because anybody with a keyboard can attempt to disparage your name. It’s becoming easier than ever, though, to make sure you look the way you want online.
These are the top 10 ways to protect your reputation online:
10. Google your name
The first step is seeing what your online reputation actually looks like – this will help you decide what steps to take. The easiest way to see what material already surrounds your personal brand is to search for your name in a popular search engine like Google or Bing.
9. Use social media
Profiles on popular social media sites can help outrank the negative results that may appear when you search for your name online. Opportunities include profiles on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. For a business, social media is a great opportunity to interact with consumers and showcase what their brand is truly about.
8. Create your own website/blog
There are many advantages to this move. For starters, your own website allows you to completely control the message and potentially offer a counter-argument to gossip about you. At the same time, you can potentially purchase a domain with your name in it, again increasing the odds that searches for your name will lead to results you approve of.
7. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mom to see
Although those Halloween party photos of you as a sexy nun might seem like a fun thing to share on Facebook, it’s not hard for potential employers to find you – and to find almost all of you when they do. You don’t need to conceal every sign that you have a life (in fact, you shouldn’t), but remember there’s a line.
6. Google alerts
You can set up your own personal reputation management system by having Google Alerts … well, alert you every time a new story has your name in it. Again, just knowing what is out there is a useful start to managing a reputation.
5. Create valuable online content
If you’re the creative type, consistently sharing great writing/drawing/video etc., will give people a high opinion of you. If there’s a blog post online disparaging the quality of your work, share some of what you’ve done online and let the results speak for themselves.
4. Remember – You are what you Tweet
Twitter’s great for a lot of things, but it’s also dangerously easy to share hostile or sarcastic thoughts you’d normally keep to yourself. As an easy rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want the comment to come up in your next job interview, you probably shouldn’t tweet it. Your joke about organic bedding and dirt naps likely isn’t quite as funny as you think anyway.
3. Don’t overreact
A really negative and damaging online rumor can hurt. I get it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make, though, is reacting quickly and angrily towards the source. If people see you spitting fire at something discrediting your name, they’ll assume there’s a hint of truth in the rumor, or at least that you’re prone to angry outbursts. The best thing you can do is take your time making all the right moves; eventually, the positive will far outweigh any negative.
2. Be polite … then sue
You can kindly ask the source who has damaged your rep to remove any damaging and false posts. If you do this through e-mail, save the paper trail. That way, if they refuse, and you wholeheartedly believe they have slandered your name, you can pursue legal action. This is definitely an unpleasant road to go down, so make sure it is truly the best and most practical way to protect your reputation online.
1. Listen to criticism
If people are literally just making up rumors about you (and you swear you have no idea why they’d say you’re sexually attracted to elephants), then ignore this step. But if we are not just dealing with rumors, and are instead looking at complaints and critiques, it’s likely in your best interest to listen carefully. This is not an easy process, but once you listen to your harshest critics and figure out why they’re bashing you online, you can consider appropriate adjustments. It could make you – or your business – stronger in the end.