A lot of marketers will tout the benefits of social media marketing for businesses: You’ve probably heard that businesses actually have two different reputations, online and offline. The same goes for individuals – everyone who’s a member of a social networking site has an online presence.
When dealing with the Internet, you have to be proactive when it comes to online reputation management, both personally and professionally. We’ve written a blog before about online reputation management and the importance of managing your Wikipedia page. We’ve all heard the horror stories about people getting fired for things they say or do on the Internet, getting passed over for jobs because of their MySpace or Facebook profiles, and serious backlash against businesses from bloggers (NBC, anyone?).
Hence the importance of online reputation management. Online reputation management actually combines two things: marketing and PR. Whether as an individual or business owner, online reputation management should be a regular part of your life – like paying the bills or filing your taxes. Luckily, online reputation management can be done fairly easily.
Here are 3 tips to keep your online reputation in check:
1. Google yourself! That’s right – the best way to see what people are saying about you or your business is to regularly Google your name. Better, yet, set up a Google alert for yourself. Just go to http://www.google.com/alerts, type in your name or your business’ name, and Google will automatically email you daily (or weekly) updates any time your name appears on the web.
2. Use Google Alerts to generate good PR. Your online reputation affects you in many ways – it can make sales plummet or soar, it can land you a job or get you fired. Check your Google alerts diligently and then … respond. That’s right: Say you see that an unsatisfied customer has posted a blog about how horribly rude your sales rep was when they called to place an order. Don’t just sit there and let the blogger – and all of her friends – wallow in their newfound hate for your company.
Instead, be proactive: Comment on her blog. Apologize, offer her a discount, or ask her to call or email you – whatever you would normally do to appease a dissatisfied customer.
The same rule can apply to good press: perhaps someone posts a positive Twitter message about you or your company, or a glowing product review on their blog. You don’t have to keep mum – friend them, message them, thank them for their time and let them know you’re available if they have any questions. When it comes to online reputation management, responding to the bad AND the good can help build positive relations.
3. Make the decision to keep your social networking profiles public or private. For individuals, it’s probably safest to have all of your social networking profiles private – you never know who’s going to find those pictures from last Memorial Day (your boss) and what he might think about it (my employee is an alcoholic idiot). If you choose to keep your profiles public, be sure not to post anything that could potentially be damaging – stuff like racial or sexual slurs and incriminating photographs could come back to haunt you.
If your business is on a social networking site, you probably need to keep the profile public for anyone to view. You should only be posting business-related items on your profile – no personal updates!
So what to do if you are your brand? Many self-employed and independent contractors have two online personalities: a public and a private one. Make a professional Facebook or Twitter page, and update them to help you with your marketing and PR. Any personal stuff should be kept separately, like on a private Facebook blog. This prevents any potentially damaging crossover.
Have you had any experience where your online reputation management helped – or hurt – you? Tell us about it, or let us know if you have any other tips to keep your online image in check!
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