Online reputation management, also called rep management, is the strategy you adopt to create the persona you wish to project to internet users. Why is this important? In today’s times when online social media has a greater impact than any other channel, good or bad reviews, discussions about your products, and other blog posts can make or break your business. Yelp reports that 85% of consumers search for product reviews online before making their decision on whether or not to buy it.

As an individual, if you’re looking to land that dream job or impress a prospective partner, you’ll want to make sure that when they search for your background online, they see only great things being said about you. A publication titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World,” released by Cross Tab, reveals that 75% of companies in the US have official policies in place directing recruiters to search for candidates online when screening them. Take your online reputation into your own hands, and implement the following steps of the system to let internet traffic know that you’re real and who you really are.

Step 1: See What Already Exists Online

According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, over 65% of Internet users see an online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other offline source. So if you want to paint a clear picture of your online reputation, then consult a major search engine results.

Type your name (or your company’s name) into the Google search bar and check the results. Are your details associated with negative press articles? Do you share details with an infamous murderer or public figure? Have you got some “skeletons” in your closet that have made it onto the internet? Google may know more about you that you’d like.

Other tools to broaden your search for both positive and negative publicity include:

  • Social media analytics
  • Monitoring blogs that follow your work
  • Twitter feeds
  • Forums that cover topics either you or your business are involved with.

Once you’re aware of what’s being written and posted about your brand, you can counter-attack with carefully designed content to reverse your negative press. More about that shortly.

Step 2: Own Your Domain Name

Buy the domain name that matches best with your name as an individual, or with your company’s brand name if you’re a business.

Use domain search engines and registry companies such as GoDaddy to assist you with your searching. If you have the option, try to get a dot com domain address first, as the major search engines still give preference to these extensions over others. Use this domain name to create a website where you can post pictures, a short biography, your CV, and any other information you want to share with your viewers.

If you’re a business, your company’s website needs to be more detailed and should include complete information about the business and its products and services, along with regular blogs and articles that are relevant to the industry that you specialize in.

Create a great website by using tools like WordPress, Tumblr, or About.me. Choose from their collection of templates and put together a smart, professional-looking web page. You can post all the interesting content you want to about your company or yourself.

Step 3: Post Interesting Content

“58% of Americans perform online research about the products and services that they are considering purchasing.”

~ Jim Jansen, Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 2010

With 58% of Americans looking online first, you need to ensure you’ve got something worth finding. Once you’ve got your own site up and running, think of this as your own personal advertising space. You can use it to publish anything you like, but it’s best if you keep content relevant to your personal qualifications or field of expertise. Content needs to engage your audience.

  • Quotes, anecdotes, statistics, and referenced information
  • Videos and images rich with easy-to-decipher content
  • How-to guides and informational articles
  • Testimonials and personal anecdotes
  • Biography and story of who you are
  • Portfolio of your work
  • Case studies of the results your business has achieved
  • Updates on new products and services

Pages of your site should be updated frequently to show search engines that you’re “alive” and are providing up-to-date, relevant content for your audience. Aim to add new content at least twice a month.

If you receive an alert informing you about some negative post or article about the company or its products, you can post an article of your own that answers the negativity and clears it in the minds of the readers. It will interest you to know that statistics published in the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer say that 63% of customers, on hearing a piece of news or information at least three times, are likely to consider it to be true. If you have online reputation management professionals assisting you, you can rely on them to take care of the negative publicity removal.

Step 4: Use Social Media Networks

“Over 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week. Roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature.”

~ Source: Touch Agency

The most influential tool by far in our 5-step online reputation management system is social media. Why? Because according to CrossTab’s “Online Reputation in a Connected World,” “85% of U.S. recruiters and hiring managers say positive online content influences their hiring decisions.”

And the cheapest, easiest way to get content to a global audience in today’s online marketplace is by using social media networks.

Popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and Tumblr are among the most authoritative personal reputation websites on the web. If you have a Facebook profile and you decide to “Google” your name, chances are the first page of results will show a link to your social media profile. Considering only 8.5 % of online search traffic makes it to the second page of Google search results, it’s clear that if you want to be “seen”,  then the first page of search results is where you need to be showing up.

Without paying $1,000’s on SEO and marketing of your own website, a free social media account really is a huge advantage. These sites allow you to create visible, authoritative, positive content that can boost your job prospects and increase client retention rates significantly.

Other advantages of social media networks include:

  • The ability to answer the concerns and queries of your customers in real time.
  • You can join forums related to the particular industry you work in. You can use this space to network with other users, and attempt “soft-promotion” of your products and services.
  • You can use the content from other related business or individuals to post to your own account. Although the content isn’t yours originally, social media users find value in finding useful information through you. It’s what’s known as the “sharing economy,” an age of information sharing that we find ourselves in. Use it to your advantage.

Insider tip: Link your social media accounts to your personal website to increase your personal website SEO ranking, and provide people with yet another way to find good things about you!

Step 5: Filter Your Content Before Sharing

According to CrossTab’s “Online Reputation in a Connected World,” “70% of U.S. recruiters and hiring managers have rejected candidates based on information found online.”

Clearly, if you don’t take steps to manage content about you online and attempt to suppress negative press, then this unflattering, publicly visible information can potentially impact your career track significantly. Always keep this in mind before you publish images, posts, or any other information online. Once it’s up there, the effort to undo the fallout is work that you just don’t need to have.

Social media compounds the effect, since it’s never been easier for anyone – your friends, family, and sometimes even total strangers – to find and share content that concerns you. As such, “81% of Internet users feel “not very” or “not at all secure” using social media sites when they want to share private information with another trusted person or organization.” (Pew Research’s “Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era”). In other words, what you or anyone else says on social media – even privately – is liable to get out, with potentially serious consequences for your reputation.

It is possible to have problematic, negative publicity removed of course, but that’s only good if you catch it before damage is done. So a good idea is to request that you are not tagged in their content or for them to not post the content at all.

Considering that 65% of online users trust that the information on the internet is true and believe it (2014 Edelman Trust Barometer), you can’t be cautious enough. Make sure you’re diligent in filtering information before it sees public eyes.

Speak the Truth, And Be Heard

Use the 5-step system outlined above to increase the positive publicity circulating online, and raise your brand awareness in the process – personal reputation included. Your reputation requires a well-planned, diligent system in place to be managed effectively, and that’s where we come in. Titanium Marketing can work with you and your business to build a powerful online presence, and repair it if needed. Contact Us to see how we can help you build a thriving online reputation.