I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve all googled our name and were shocked to find pages of search results returned, include links to your personal social media accounts and maybe even to a past bylined blog. Whatever the search results return, it is clear that your digital footprint is searchable to others, and your personal reputation is something to consider managing carefully online.
During this article, we’ll touch on key personal reputation management practices, including how to build a positive online reputation and what to do if you spot negative conversations. The result? You’ll never be embarrassed by search results when googling your name again!
Why is personal online reputation management so important?
In a nutshell, your personal reputation is your brand, and it should be protected at all costs. The act of personal reputation management involves reducing the impact of negative conversations while simultaneously working to generate favorable ones online.
These days, thanks to digital media, our individual personal reputation and our professional reputation go hand in hand. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to monitor conversations mentioning your name, as failing to do so means you run the risk of an HR representative at a company you are interviewing at finding something that portrays you in a negative light.
Any your personal reputation or brand quickly becomes intertwined with the company you work for the higher you are up the corporate ladder. Research by Weber Shandwick found a staggering 49% of company reputation is attributable to the business owner or CEO, which makes online reputation management (ORM) particularly vital for these job titles.
The benefits of online reputation management
Aside from being an invaluable corporate asset, having a favourable online reputation can also help:
- Increase credibility
- Improve trustworthiness
- Attract better opportunities
- Offering protection if you ever find yourself in a reputation crisis
So how can you go about creating a positive individual brand reputation? Let's explore some of the tactics you use.
How to build a positive reputation?
A personal reputation management system is a plan set in place to ensure your online reputation looks as good as possible. There are several simple things you can do to help avoid or manage an individual PR disaster, let’s explore some reputation management tactics.
- Carve out thought leadership positioning for yourself
- Decide which channels or networks you want to prioritize
- Consider the role of SEO in reputation management (remember those Google search results we mentioned in the beginning)
- Ask people for endorsements and personal reviews
- Protect your online reputation by investing in a media intelligence tool
1. Kick start reputation management by carving out thought leadership positioning
Our first online reputation management tip is to invest in thought leadership.
What do you want people to see when they type your name into a search engine? The good news is that you can control the narrative of search results and your reputation to some degree through thought leadership tactics.
The first step in this process is identifying the topics you want to "own" and position yourself as an expert in. We’d recommend running an industry search in your media monitoring platform to spot both trends and the areas your competitors haven’t yet hopped on. Then use an audience insight tool to understand if this topic is relevant to your community.
It’s worth mentioning that while being data-driven is important, so is making sure that you’re genuinely interested in the subject area before committing to this as your profile niche. If the data matches your professional business goals or personal passion, run with that thought leadership angle!
This leads us nicely onto our next reputation management tip…
2. Decide which channels or networks you want to prioritize
Once you know your thought leadership area, it’s then time to think about the best marketing channels to discuss the subject matter on. For reputation management, this will likely be a mix of trade events, editorial publications and social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter & Quora.
A social media tool can help you determine which social media networks are the most relevant to your target audience. Using social media listening you can also surface relevant conversation on the topics of interest to you so you can contribute thought-leadership content. By monitoring these online conversations you can also identify journalists or other thought leaders in the community that you could partner with. Proactive engagement will help enforce your reputation and keep you top of mind.
3. Consider the role of SEO in reputation management
90% of Google traffic is generated by the first page of search results, so by having an SEO strategy that aims to push neutral or positive content to the top (and bury domain names with negative results), you can drastically reduce the chance of harmful content being seen and impacting your online reputation in a negative way.
Whether it’s scattering relevant keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile or ensuring your blog contribution is Google-friendly, you should be thinking about SEO whenever you write content. In most cases, you can’t delete a negative search engine result unless you reach out to the author (which can be very awkward), however, generating more positive content and getting this to rank in search engines is one strategy that’ll help you combat this. Our third online reputation management tip is to brush up on your SEO skills.
4. Ask people for endorsements and personal reviews
As the age-old saying goes, “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” If your aim is to profile yourself as an expert, ask people that you have worked with to validate your skills.
LinkedIn is a particularly useful professional social media network for boosting your online reputation. Not only can you highlight your awards, certifications and skills, but you can also have others vouch for you through either the "Endorsement" or "Recommendation" features. Third-party endorsements would typically be considered to be more trustworthy than any statements that you yourself created stating that you’re an expert.
For each skill endorsement you receive, you’re making your online reputation more credible in the eyes of potential clients, job recruiters and your wider industry peers.
5. Protect your online reputation by investing in a media intelligence tool
Negative conversations can badly affect your personal and professional reputation, harming everything from relationships to your bank credit rating. So, our final online reputation management tip is to monitor the thousands of online conversations held every minute online for mentions of your name. Sounds impossible, right? Actually, it’s not!
I’m a big believer in the mantra “you can’t manage what you can’t measure," and it’s impossible to fix something if you don’t know there is an issue. A media intelligence tool mitigates reputation risk by acting as your eyes and ears, scanning thousands of digital editorial and social media conversations daily, surfacing only the most relevant ones. That way, negative conversations relating to you are identified and accounted for, so you can save time planning your approach rather than wasting your day scanning Google and social media for negative mentions of your name.
If you do happen to spot a disgruntled comment about yourself that’s sure to skew your reputation online, don’t panic. It’s not too late to change their opinion, but firing off a response right away might result in them becoming even angrier. To help you respond to the bad review in a thoughtful manner, check out this "Complete Guide to Crisis Communications" to work out what to do next after discovering a bad review.
A strong personal reputation takes years to build, and only seconds to break. By following the above personal branding and online personal reputation management tips, you’re much better placed to protect your online image.
Want to learn more about reputation management? Watch our on-demand webinar, “How a Powerful Personal Brand Can Improve Your Bottom Line” or contact us on the form below to explore reputation management services provided by Meltwater.