Online reputation management is not just for business. It's for you too. When last did you google yourself? What did you find? Your online reputation can affect your future employment, the success of your business, your friends, your family and even your relationship with your employees. You have to remember that anything you say online could live forever. EVEN IF YOU DELETE IT.
Think of yourself as a journalist whenever you are posting something online and ask yourself these three questions before you click 'post';
- Would it get past your editor?
- Would you want your editor to see it?
- Would you be ashamed of it if it went viral?
Now, some steps to take to correct the past and manage your way forward to a squeaky clean online reputation!
- Run a Google search on your name and look for any articles and photographs that appear in the results. Make notes of anything that you'd prefer to be hidden and then go to those sites to see if you can hide them in settings or if you can request that friends or family remove them. You may need to contact website managers in some cases to ask if content can be hidden or removed.
- Set up Google Alerts so that you receive notifications when your name is mentioned or a photograph of yourself is posted online. This will help you keep track of new information posted.
- Don't be scared of social media. Get with it! Social media platforms are flexible and can be used to portray anything you choose - so there is nothing to be worried about if you have two brain cells to rub together. Pick the platforms that appeal to you most, fill the profiles out to the best of your ability and get connected! People like to do business and share information with people that they know (even if it is through 6 degrees of separation!). Social media platforms are here to narrow the gap between you and the opportunities that await you!
- Connect your profiles to one another and your website to your social media platforms. Most social media sites allow you to connect with other platforms that you have a presence on. Doing this will allow for search results to push you further to the top. Think of it as a verification exercise - the more online presence you have the more legit you look and the higher your ranking will be.
- Customise your domain names to make yourself discoverable. Managing your online reputation is not just about hiding information that you don't want seen, it's also about putting positive content out there to be associated with. For example - your Facebook profile, when created will allocate a domain name that reads www.facebook.com/(number) - you should change it to www.facebook.com/johnsmith. Now we can find you!
- Don't take for granted that people will know who you are, remember, you're not the only John Smith out there. When you run a Google search on yourself you may find that there are articles, news reports and pictures of another person with the same name. This could be good or bad information. Either way, you want your name and your information to come up first in search results (Obviously if the other John Smith is a serial killer you want to deal with this very urgently). Post regularly on your social media platforms and if you have a website you should make an effort to mention your own name on it in some of the posts. New and legitimate information will be given preferential treatment in Google searches and will push those results that you don't want seen off the first page of the google search. This is great, because nobody goes to the second page of a google search. Ever.
- This may seem obvious, but it must be said because to this day (unbelievable I know) people are still burying themselves online - Don't ever swear, post nude photographs or say anything racist, sexist or insulting online. Basically, if you can't say it to your boss or do it in front of your boss (and keep your job), then best to leave it unsaid. There are enough examples out there of how devastating this can be, you don't need to be the next.
- And finally, don't overestimate your privacy settings on social media platforms. You're sharing information with (on average) one hundred friends and acquaintances every time you post something. And while your settings might only allow for them to see it, it doesn't stop them from sharing it, taking a screenshot or posting it to another platform. Think of everything you post as a world broadcast, because usually it's the one thing that you don't want to go viral, that does!
These steps should go a long way to helping you manage your online reputation, but if you feel you still need assistance you can contact the JoziTown team.