The importance of online reputation management for companies is obvious — customers and clients want to know they can depend on the company, and online reviews have become a strong tool for building trust. A positive online reputation is just as important for individuals, however. Entrepreneur reports that 75 percent of human resources departments have a requirement to check out all job applicants online, and 85 percent of them say what they find impacts their decisions. It isn’t just job applicants who need to understand why online reputation management is important. The same report found that 43 percent of adults have looked up their significant other, an ex, or a potential date. In fact, 48 percent of those who checked out a potential dating partner before the first date found a reason to cancel the date while 51 percent found enough to confirm their decision to go out with the other person. Take some tips on how to improve your online reputation.
How to improve your online reputation
Start with the status quo — clean up what’s already there. Begin by searching your name with Google and other major search engines. Delete any negative comments under your control, but don’t respond publicly to the rest.
Next, set all social media accounts to private. Delete potentially damaging or controversial posts or comments or flag them, according to the social media platform’s process. Once you have removed the negative posts, return the account setting to public.
Learn how to manage an online reputation by publishing regularly
Sometimes, there is no way to delete negative comments made by others. However, publishing new blog content or social media posts will push those comments down the page, so they aren’t as noticeable. Followers will see the more complimentary posts and comments first. By the time they get to the negative ones — if they even read that far — they will already have a more positive view so that derogatory comments won’t have as much impact. Also, posting and commenting regularly on social media creates a stronger authenticity to the impression readers get of you, which also helps with personal online reputation management.
Monitor for personal online reputation management
An easy way to track an online reputation is with Google Alerts, and with Internet search software. Set up alerts with your full name and nicknames and variations used by friends and family. Then, an email goes out whenever new content appears with your name, you can then use home automation hubs and systems to notify you. Use other tools like Naymz, Yext, Hootsuite, and others periodically to be sure of what others are posting.
As part of the monitoring, ask friends and family to avoid tagging you in photos that might be damaging, both personally and professionally. Besides those pictures that would be personally embarrassing, include photos or memes that send a potentially controversial or objectionable message.
Practice proactive online reputation management
Make it a goal to only post things that are fun and productive, things that will improve online communication overall. Once establishing a positive reputation, the work to keep it that way has only begun. Tips for maintaining that positive approach include:
- Never post when angry
- Avoid negative comments about co-workers, business associates, or customers, no matter the privacy settings on the account; stay away from defamatory or degrading content, including embarrassing pictures of anyone
- Walk away from sharing dirty jokes or crass comments
As part of creating a good impression, check for spelling and grammar errors. It isn’t necessary to use a formal register on social media, but the posts should still reflect correct usage and syntax. Also, use photo editing and graphic design software for the best quality photos to post.
The best online reputation management strategy is to think twice before posting anywhere. Remember, what you share on the Internet stays online somewhere forever. Ask, “Would it be OK if my parents, my grandparents, my spouse, significant other, or boss saw this?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes,” don’t post it.